[iDC] Re: iDC Digest, Vol 29, Issue 23
mrzero at panix.com
Thu Mar 15 10:38:47 EDT 2007
A small response to guibertc at criticalsecret.com
I have in fact read all of Baudrillard's major
texts and nearly every line Debord ever wrote.
And the Debord I read in French; the Baudrillard,
which is of modest interest at best, is not
terribly accessible in the US in French, though
translations are legion.
Your analysis makes it seem that you did not read
any of the later Baudrillard as he clearly moves
away from his alignment with early Barthesian
watered-down semiotics which work was only of
modest interest at the time and is of nearly no
interest currently, despite its persistent
fashionableness in American Academic circles as
it seems to justify a personal subjectivity in
tone. And beyond a vague reference to "spectacle"
your analysis shows no evidence of having read
anything by Debord.
As for Lefebvre, to call him Debord's master in
Marxism is ludicrous. While they did exchange
ideas, Debord was very deeply grounded in Marxist
theory long before he ever met HL.
The claim that Baudrillard is Debord's master in
sociology is even more preposterous. The only
encounters I know of between Baudrillard and
Debord were when Baudrillard was Lefebvre's
graduate assistant and Debord attended a few of
Lefebvre 's lectures. Debord was always
antagonistic to Baudrillard and Baudrillard
responded in kind.
B's notion of the simulacrum--which postdates his
abandonment of semiotics by a decade--is an
attempt to exceed Debord's aggressive critique of
the spectacle, but only manages a kind of
nihilistic end game where action is excluded in
favor of a kind of dandified contemplative
Debord was himself on the barricades in 1968 and
was constantly committed to the destruction of
the state; where was Jean Baudrillard, servant of
the state, during that time? Where are his
declarations against the world of the spectacular
commodity, or even his own hobbyhorse, the
simulacrum? Baudrillard's work remains solipsist
and contemplative. Debord's work was an adjunct
to a clear attack--written, physical, on film,
via audio works, and in graphic works--on
existing conditions in society. Let the dead bury
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> 1. Bey vs. Baudrillard, are either "Doing Theory"?
> (tobias c. van Veen)
> 2. Re: Re: iDC Digest, Vol 29, Issue 21 (A. G-C)
> 3. Re: Inventing America (Ryan Griffis)
> 4. Baudrillard and Debord (Merrin W.)
>Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 16:08:08 -0400
>From: "tobias c. van Veen" <tobias at techno.ca>
>Subject: [iDC] Bey vs. Baudrillard, are either "Doing Theory"?
>To: iDC <idc at bbs.thing.net>
>Cc: Charles Esche <charles.esche at vanabbe.nl>
>Message-ID: <C21DCE68.19914%tobias at techno.ca>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="ISO-8859-1"
>Charles Esche wrote:
>> Here his apparent resigned, cynical indifference to the fate of the world
>> and its inhabitants permitted a use of his writeings that is largely
>> His writings have given permission,certainly in the art
>> world, for a similar cynicism and acceptance of the status quo as
>> long as it works for one's personal benefit.
>+yes, you are quite right, these kinds of statements are "unforgiveable" --
>to equate the effects of a work with the work itself is the first mistake of
>the one-eyed man in the land of the blind & to repeat, unforgiveable -- for
>nothing has been given, first and foremost, to the gift of the work. For
>similar reasons we should dismiss Nietzsche? And so on. Others have better
>writ Baudrillard's depth on this list than I have, so I will not repeat, but
>I would suggest that there is a certain, oh, IRONY to all those so
>negatively dismissing Baudrillard -- that's where the negativity is at, with
>all these so-easy critiques. Alas, the pot, the kettle, its simulated colour
>of the void.
>In any case, statements above are also, according to the one source I can
>cite, factually and historically incorrect. As for Baudrillard & the art
>world and how he, according to Sylvere Lotringer, turned his back on the
>whole boondoggle and also had absolutely nothing to do with ART FORUM (np.
>his statement: "there can be no art of the simulacra"), read the following:
>"Doing Theory," _French Theory in America_, ed. Sylvere Lotringer,
>Hopefully some research can now supplement this interesting play of
>(meaningless? doxic toxic?) opinions -- the kind Baudrillard would have so
>justifiably smirked at. Let the prankster/s play--!
>Also a side note on Bey vs. Baudrillard: the later Bey is perhaps much more
>of a conservative than Baudrillard. PLW now rejects most technologies and
>has revised the TAZ to a pre-technological festival for initiates only
>(nonpublic, secretive, the Tectrum Theatrum) -- see his article:
>Tectum Theatrum,¾ The Fifth Estate 38:2 (361) Summer 2003
>Here, Bey advances Immediatism at the level of absolutism -- Every music
>recording is the tombstone of a live performance¾ (31) and proposes the
>Tectum Theatrum¾ or Secret Theater,¾ quite conventional and old-fashioned
>in form¾ that would remain strictly within the confines of åmedia-free¼
>art¾ (dance, ritual, performance, live¾ music). Thus Tectum Theatrum might
>be called luddite art.¾
>Is there a relation between Bey and Baudrillard via a certain Luddism? Or
>yearning toward? Perhaps. And many differences too. A more interesting
>discussion could happen here than debating Baudrillard's apparent "real" or
>"exchange" value, inside our outside of academia.
> Need I write that if one writes of unforgiveness toward the other's gift
>then one should dodge a certain knife-edged critique on the return.
>tobias c. van Veen -----------++++
>McGill Communication & Philosophy
>Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 20:49:33 +0100
>From: "A. G-C" <guibertc at criticalsecret.com>
>Subject: Re: [iDC] Re: iDC Digest, Vol 29, Issue 21
>To: IDC list <idc at bbs.thing.net>
>Message-ID: <C21E105D.3B201%guibertc at criticalsecret.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="ISO-8859-1"
>Sorry if I have so much difficulty to speak English (more to write it).
>I'm sorry but there is no common point as corpus of research between Debord
>and Baudrillard, whatever they have both worked on the commodity, but just
>regarding themselves in mirror - or complementary.
>Read such a thing gives the idea that you would not have read one of them..
>If you knew properly the new Marxism coming from the sociologist Henri
>Lefebvre just leaving the FR communist party of which he was the central
>theorist till 1958, both directly master in Marxism to Debord and in
>sociology to Baudrillard, you would know of the different approaches of the
>daily life from these meetings..
>All the question of the thesis by Baudrillard's is a tribute to the new
>Marxism in the sixties coming from the predictable transformation of the
>system of the equivalence of the value trough the increasing system of the
>commodity more the increasing importance of the general equivalence (money
>getting out of equivalence with the gold in these years). What is not the
>proper object at Debord, whose research concerns the subject in space time
>as spectacle coming from the commodity, not the abstract question of the
>Baudrillard worked for the beginning on the proper statement of the
>commodity from the system of equivalence of the value crossing the
>Baudrillard had worked with Barthes, a great Marxist having written "Le
>systËme de la mode" from an idea at Simondon's on the individuation
>attributed to the industrial objects.
>At least has transferred a semiotic approach to political philosophy that
>could run much more far for struggle than the system of the spectacle which
>is closed at the moment the entropy is realized.
>>From the system of equivalence of the value he has observed the problematic
>of the language and their inherit significations can working as well in
>political economy as well in political philosophy. From this point both
>more: having observed that the system of equivalence was concretely
>disappearing, he had the genial idea to apply to theory of the signs to the
>emergent theory of the post the production (the signs emerging from the
>disappearance of the symbolic relationship) the statement of the concept
>from Saussure having worked till the linguistic structuralism: arbitrary
>statement of the sign regarding its concrete referent...
>An so on
>On 14/03/07 18:13, "Keith Sanborn" <mrzero at panix.com> probably wrote:
>> I find myself very much in Sympathy w/ Mr. Esche. Baudrillard's work was
>> essentially a collection of bitter lesser footnotes to Debord. If you know
>> Debord you realize B's references even through
>>the haze of weak translation. B
>> set himself up as a kind of Nietzschean destoyer of accepted French left
>> political values, but he only managed to be an
>>apologist for a lack of values.
>> His views of the US are the smug colonialism typical of upper middle brow
>> European intellos. His use as a justification for Peter Halleyism in the 80s
> > was at least as debased and fashion conscious as his use by the British art
>> I did not mourn for Ronald Reagan; I do no mourn for Baudrillard.
>> Keith Sanborn
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: idc-request at mailman.thing.net
>> Subj: iDC Digest, Vol 29, Issue 21
>> Date: Wed Mar 14, 2007 12:49 pm
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>> To: idc at mailman.thing.net
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>> Today's Topics:
>> 1. Re: Some thoughts on Jean Baudrillard and cultural studies
>> (Charles Esche)
>> 2. RE: Some thoughts on Jean Baudrillard and cultural studies
>> (Judith Rodenbeck)
>> Message: 1
>> Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 10:41:04 +0100
>> From: Charles Esche <charles.esche at vanabbe.nl>
>> Subject: Re: [iDC] Some thoughts on Jean Baudrillard and cultural
>> To: iDC <idc at bbs.thing.net>
>> Message-ID: <357CC7DA-F367-437D-9BB9-1B8247CC50ED at vanabbe.nl>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; delsp=yes; format=flowed
>> Dear all,
>> I've been a lurker all this time, fascinated by the discussions at
>> times and always happy with the dynamism of the conversation. So,
>> thank you to all. For the record, I am responsible for a middle sized
>> museum in the Netherlands that I am trying to equip as a more
>> politically and locally engaged institution and co-editor of Afterall
>> Books that are quite widely distributed.
>> Trebor asked me to respond to Baudrillard, something I don't feel
>> able to do in detail but this critical turn in the conversation is
>> refreshing - we certainly do not need encomiums.
>> It seems to me that Baudrillard's influence is almost entirely
>> negative on all forms of emancipatory thinking. If we are looking for
>> a critique of economic conditions in the world, of representation, of
>> simulation than we cannot find it here. Even if his basic position
>> were as an engaged world citizen who did acknowledge the travails of
>> people who are powerless to shield themselves from the consequences
>> of a world of simulacra - as I am sure he was as a human. It is the
>> use and effect of his work that has to be judged. Here his apparent
>> resigned, cynical indifference to the fate of the world and its
>> inhabitants permitted a use of his writeings that is largely
> > unforgivable. His writings have given permission,certainly in the art
>> world, for a similar cynicism and acceptance of the status quo as
>> long as it works for one's personal benefit. I'm thinking for
>> instance of his indirect but significant effect on the British
>> Goldsmiths generation of the early 1990s. This elevation of personal
>> interests and desires over collective or ideological concerns can be
>> laid at his door, even if he only performed the role of convenient
>> excuse for an always existing set of motivations. In is for his value
>> as a legitimising agent that of the cynical new world order that I
>> would reject him, not for his personal ethics, whatever they were.
>> I am showing an Allan Kaprow exhibition at the moment and the
>> attempts by the estate (sadly) and the gallery (predictably) to
>> aetheticise and depoliticise his work is at such a profound level
>> that it beggars belief. I see the work of this significant artist
>> during the long gone heyday of American experimentalism dying before
>> my eyes. It is true that it has become a simulacrum but that
>> knowledge does absolutely nothing for me...and nor does any of the
>> rest of his thought.
>>> Dear Charlie, everyone -
>>> This is damn interesting for an outsider:
>>>> One of the more depressing aspects of teaching cultural studies is
> >>> the
>>>> degree to which it becomes increasingly self-referential. Theory
>>>> is used
>>>> to teach students how to analyse media products and advertising. The
>>>> choice of which such products and advertising are chosen to be
>>>> rests almost entirely on the degree to which they seem fit for such
>>>> analysis. The same students then go and work in advertising and
>>>> producing exactly the kind of products that can be, and in fact are
>>>> designed to be analysed using the same theoretical techniques they
>>>> themselves learnt as students.
>>> I actually don't watch TV but I have noticed this kind of thing
>>> quite a bit on the billboard advertisements here in France, and
>>> also in American movies. A weird demand for theoretical
>>> interpretation that's basically going to generate a lot of
>>> lingering over the image in question. What's impressive is the way
>>> the academic relation becomes a kind of social law, not in a hard
>>> authoritarian sense, but as a kind of repetition compulsion that
>>> adds another layer to the usual dreck. Honestly (I don't mean any
>>> personal offense) despite what seemed like the great initial
>>> promise I always really disliked the overall effect of cultural
>>> studies, because it seemed to me it legitimated what I still
>>> consider dreck, all the garbage on TV etc., actually stuff like the
>>> Inman show you talk about in your post, which we were told was real
>>> life after all, made by real people after all, and full of all
>>> these nuances which, though of course compromised and needful of
>>> interpretation, were still really our culture, the only one we
>>> have, stuff that matters. So linger over it. Baudrillard was pretty
>>> much the perfect capper to that kind of story, because he said,
>>> well, if you take a very distant view, everyone is totally
>>> hypnotized! With no possible escape! So you might as well get into it!
>>> I think commercial culture is a very effective ideology, and the
>>> best thing one can do is turn it off and focus on more important
>>> problems, and more intense pleasures too. I don't think we're all
>>> hypnotized but I do think there's a lot of noxious effects from the
>>> efforts of a gigantic advertising industry that deeply influences
>>> most media production. It's actually one of the important problems!
>>> I am curious whether a reflection like yours above is widespread
>>> among your peers, whether there is maybe something new on the
>>> horizon? Have people written about this loop you describe? Is there
>>> a cure for this circular malady?
>>> all the best, Brian Holmes
>>> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity
> >> (distributedcreativity.org)
>>> iDC at mailman.thing.net
>>> List Archive:
>>> iDC Photo Stream:
>> Message: 2
>> Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 09:58:09 -0400
>> From: "Judith Rodenbeck" <jrodenbe at slc.edu>
>> Subject: RE: [iDC] Some thoughts on Jean Baudrillard and cultural
>> To: "'iDC'" <idc at bbs.thing.net>
>> Message-ID: <00d901c76640$ccb91450$0202a8c0 at rodenbeck>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
>> Charles Esche wrote:
>>> I am showing an Allan Kaprow exhibition at the moment and the
>>> attempts by the estate (sadly) and the gallery (predictably) to
>>> aetheticise and depoliticise his work is at such a profound level
>>> that it beggars belief. I see the work of this significant artist
>>> during the long gone heyday of American experimentalism dying before
>>> my eyes. It is true that it has become a simulacrum but that
>>> knowledge does absolutely nothing for me...and nor does any of the
>>> rest of his thought.
>> I'd be curious to have more detail. Allan was a slippery fellow, both
>> anti-aesthetic and profoundly formalist, a deep anarchist and very
>> comfortably middle-class. He would have said the work was already dead the
> > minute it was over; but then towards the end of his life he got interested
>> in remakes (or retakes), not a la Abramovic re-do but in re-thinks. The
>> problem, for an un-artist interested in blurring, became one of legacy. And
>> Allan, always interested in gossip, transmission, and legend (like Pecos
>> Bill) would (did) welcome a certain contentious confusion.
>> On the iDC reception of Baudrillard, I am in some sympathy with William
>> Merrin. Derrida wrote a little book, The Ear of the Other, on Nietszche that
>> seems a propos, about the necessity of careful distinction between a text
>> and its reception. We're moving out of the foggy haze of a certain early
>> 1990s theory fetishism (or at least substituting new Proper Names--Agamben,
>> Ranciere, who this year supplant Hardt and Negri--for the old ones), but
>> that's no reason to forget how productive certain analyses were in their
>> moment, or how useful certain concepts--sign-exchange value, for
>> example--still are.
>> iDC mailing list
>> iDC at mailman.thing.net
>> Institute for Distributed Creativity (iDC)
>> The research of the Institute for Distributed Creativity
>> (iDC) focuses on collaboration in media art, technology,
>> and theory with an emphasis on social contexts.
>> End of iDC Digest, Vol 29, Issue 21
>> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity
>> iDC at mailman.thing.net
>> List Archive:
>> iDC Photo Stream:
>Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 17:40:20 -0500
>From: Ryan Griffis <ryan.griffis at gmail.com>
>Subject: [iDC] Re: Inventing America
>To: idc at mailman.thing.net
>Message-ID: <86A9AEC5-9729-458D-8C18-A94A8944929D at gmail.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; delsp=yes; format=flowed
>> Who else could have imagined the last decade, where
>> the American people finally gave up their outrage at the Bush coup
>> and the lies, killing, and global destruction in their name?
>What "American people" are you referring to? Lots of people in the
>Americas have not "given up" any outrage, and do not accept what is
>going on as being "in their name".
>We should be careful of reproducing the consensus myth, or that the
>situation is one wholly explainable through a representational analysis.
>> You need to see America while driving a Ford Galaxie on an
>> interstate at
>> night, the neon glow of the city lights reflecting the low-hanging
>> clouds on a sultry steamy summer evening. If you do not see this,
>> if you
>> cannot imagine it, you do not understand America.
>> Everybody understands that America is an illusion, a wonderland of
>> flamingos and purple velvet.
>> But it's /their/ illusion. It belongs to the people; it was created by
>> the people. They /do/ remember driving their cars on the interstate,
>> listening to the DJ, their futures riding on four wheels and a dream.
>> They /made/ this; everything in America was /made/.
>The other side of that "illusion" would be the memories of the
>thousands displaced and ghettoized by those interstate highways.
>These "illusions" belong to us/US as well.
>Don't so easily invoke an image of "America" as a slick surface of
>shiny, shifting mobility. Even as an "illusion".
>Not in my name.
>(Also, using America as shorthand for the US, i thought, had been
>problematized via postcolonial theory... apparently not for
>Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 13:37:32 -0000
>From: "Merrin W." <W.Merrin at swansea.ac.uk>
>Subject: [iDC] Baudrillard and Debord
>To: <idc at mailman.thing.net>
> <9F7FA2E0294A934CA0CD9E97BD580F84D6220B at CCS-EXCHANGE1.brynmill.swan.ac.uk>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
>So 'Baudrillard's work was essentially a collection of bitter lesser
>footnotes to Debord'?
>Yet more lunacy! It's another one of those undergraduate claims that's
>widely accepted and seems to hold true ... as long as you don't think
>too much about it ...
>Luckily another commentator has already demonstrated the different
>theoretical project Baudrillard developed and the path of his work as he
>moved from a semiotic critique of consumerism to a reconsideration of
>the system of value that underpins generalised political economy and its
>semiotic reality principle ... and that's before we get to the rest of
>his work and the different paths it takes and subjects it tackles ...
>Clearly Baudrillard was so much more than his apparent debt to Debord
>suggests. Even if you could reduce Baudrillard to such a simplistic
>formulation it's interesting to see how with his later pessimistic
>comments on the integrated spectacle Debord in 'Comments on the Society
>of the Spectacle' becomes a poor shadow of Baudrillard who does it all
>so much better...
>The claim also seems to suggest Debord was such an original thinker when
>actually he was a wonderful plagiarist: the most interesting parts of
>his work are those that rewrite (and often don't even rewrite) Hegel,
>Marx and Lukacs. More importantly we could question whether Baudrillard
>really was so in thrall to Debord. Baudrillard's first major discussion
>of media simulation in 'Mass Media Culture' in 'The Consumer Society' is
>explicitly based upon Boorstin's 'The Image' and Debord isn't even
>mentioned, so the importance of the concept of the spectacle for
>Baudrillard could be questioned. Boorstin's work was more obviously
>influential upon his theory of simulation and Debord widely lifted that
>too in 'Society of the Spectacle'. However, whilst all Debord does with
>Boorstin is directly employ him whilst critiquing him within his Marxist
>perspective, Baudrillard takes Boorstin's ideas on pseudo-events and
>pseudo-reality as a starting point, combines them with McLuhan and
>Barthes and historical debates on the simulacrum and radicalises them to
>develop an original social and media theory.
>We could also reconsider Baudrillard's debt to and position within the
>avant-garde. Instead of seeing him as coming out of Situationism you
>could make a better case for the influence of Dadaism (Johannes Baader -
>'Superdada' - wrote in 1920 that World War One didn't exist and that it
>was 'a newspaper war' ...) although the strongest influence is
>undoubtedly Alfred Jarry. Whilst Baudrillard took elements of
>Situationism (along with McLuhan, Barthes, Marcuse etc.) for his
>description of the contemporary world, Jarry's life, provocations,
>writings and method all infused Baudrillard's critical position and
>theoretical methodology so he is a far more influential figure on
>Baudrillard than Debord.
>But to finish with this argument once and for all we only have to look
>at the radical Durkheim tradition, running through Mauss and Hubert,
>Durkheim, Bataille, Caillois and the College of Sociology etc. Their
>ideas of the festival, sacrifice, the gift etc. are explicitly
>reconceptualised by Baudrillard under the rubric of 'symbolic exchange'
>as the basis for his entire critical position. He also develops their
>critique of political economy (see Mauss's attack on 'homo economicus')
>and their historical critique of the loss of this 'sacred' mode of
>relations and meaning, employing Barthes, McLuhan, Debord, etc. to
>describe and lay out the contours of the contemporary semiotic system
>that continues this historical destruction and indeed expands it beyond
>anything Bataille or Caillois etc. ever conceived of. Interestingly
>Lefebvre's critique of everyday life takes up the idea of the
>'festival'; Situationism came out of the Lettrist movement with their
>journal 'potlatch', named after Mauss's study of the gift; Debord writes
>in SoS about reversible time (echoing Caillois' 'Man and the Sacred' on
>the festival) and Raoul Vaneigem writes in 'the Revolution of Everyday
>Life' about sacrifice and gifts etc. It's remarkable how much the ideas
>of radical Durkheimianism infused Situationism and western marxism. But
>they took these ideas only to deploy them as a tool in their Marxism -
>Vaneigem seeing the gift etc. as a means of reconfiguring relations in a
>post-revolutionary world. Thus all the radical and violent energy of
>these ideas was reduced by their incorporation into Marxism, being made
>to work for the great revolutionary project. From this perspective we
>can see Baudrillard as the true heir of radical Durkheimianism,
>extending and reviving it for the contemporary age and we can see
>Situationism and Debord as reactionary plagiarists of another, earlier
>theory whose power and force they didn't understand ...
>Debord? A footnote to Baudrillard.
>Dept of media and Communications
>University of Wales, Swansea
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