Friday, March 09, 2007

Adieu Baudrillard

Postmodern philosopher Jean Baudrillard dies Alarab Online French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, whose provocative, paradoxical style was reflected in the title of his 1991 work "The Gulf War did not take place", has died, his publisher Galilee said on Wednesday. He was 77.
Well-known in the United States, and reportedly courted by the makers of "The Matrix" who wanted help in their futuristic film trilogy, Baudrillard was usually classified as postmodern. But he did not belong to any clearly defined school. He had an iconic status in certain sections of the French intelligentsia, illustrated by the left-wing Liberation daily which carried a full front page photograph of Baudrillard on Wednesday, and covered his death over three pages inside. Baudrillard argued that mass media and modern consumerist society had built up such a complex structure of symbols and simulated experience that it was no longer possible to comprehend reality as it might actually exist. His dense, allusive style, peppered with expressions such as "hyperreality" and "simulation" was typical of the rarefied world of French cultural theory, but a mordant sense of humour underpinned his criticism.
He said that the 1991 Gulf War had been so artfully and comprehensively filtered and interpreted by television that the event apparently unfolding before the eyes of CNN viewers was a "simulacrum" (another favourite word) rather than an actual war. His works on cultural theory and consumer society from the 1970s are still widely read and respected, but he attracted more criticism with later works. These included "America", a high-speed travelogue seeking to lay bare the "banality" of American culture, or articles on September 11, 2001 in which his theoretical reflections seemed to display a lack of sympathy for the victims. Reuters

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