"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Anti-Zen? Jean Baudrillard is Dead: What Does it Mean?

French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, perhaps best known here for his quote, "Welcome to the desert of the real," used in The Matrix, is dead. From the BBC:
He argued that spectacle is crucial in creating our view of events - things do not happen if they are not seen.

He gained notoriety for his 1991 book The Gulf War Did Not Take Place and again a decade later for describing the 9/11 attacks as a "dark fantasy".

Perhaps they didn't happen for him. For anyone who survived the Gulf War or 9/11 attacks, or did not survive them, they of course did happen. This kind of self-referential silliness -- which is arguably the way that many people do in fact experience the world (and that is his point, I think)-- is the opposite of Zen.

On the one hand:
“All of our values are simulated,” he told The New York Times in 2005. “What is freedom? We have a choice between buying one car or buying another car? It’s a simulation of freedom.”
“The Spirit of Terrorism: And Requiem for the Twin Towers” was published just a year after 9/11. In it, he argued that Islamic fundamentalists tried to create their own reality; the resulting media spectacle would give the impression that the West was constantly under threat of terrorist attack.

The current American invasion of Iraq is an effort to “put the rest of the world into simulation, so all the world becomes total artifice and then we are all-powerful,” he told The Times. “It’s a game.”

On the other, well, he did think Disneyland was paradise.

Perhaps the best obit, at the Guardian.

1 comment:

SB said...

Giving French philosophers a bad name? How serioux was he, and how self-promoting?