TO KNOW HOW TO DISAPPEAR

The sudden absence surrounding a referent grows weak to strong, its fading echoes feedback, intermodulate new shapes, thoughts & make-up in the mirror, proliferation in the spaces left by someone who made them possible. Or,

dying is pointless, you have to know how to disappear

– Jean Baudrillard

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>> Pushing his argument into even more contemporary issues, Baudrillard urges us to recognize the degree to which the “real” Gulf War, for example, was not actually fought in the Middle East but rather in the trenches of CNN and the global media. The Gulf War (and by implication, almost every other major event of the past two decades) was about images, representations, and impressions at least as much as it was about guns and oil and other “underlying” material conditions. He looks back to the Watergate break-in the same way, stating that “before, the task was to dissimulate scandal,” that is, to lie about it, while today “the task is to conceal the fact that there is none,” that what appears to be a scandal is actually the normal workings of the American government. As always, Baudrillard (hyper) flamboyantly overstates his point to drive home the importance of his overriding argument, that something profoundly different is happening today in the relation between the real and the imagined, creating an epochal change in how we comprehend the world and act within it. However one sees it, reality is no longer what it used to be.

Baudrillard’s persistent and often purposeful exaggeration has angered and frustrated many of his readers. Many, especially on the Left, dismiss his work for its seemingly stultifying political implications, its apparent call to sit back and live with the irresistible world of simulations rather than struggle against it. But underlying his more fanciful flights is a powerful critique of contemporary epistemology (the study of how we know that our knowledge is true and useful) that deserves notice for the new insights it brings to an understanding of the restructured urban imaginary… << - from Edward Soja, Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions

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7 thoughts on “TO KNOW HOW TO DISAPPEAR”

  1. sad. a fantastic thinker – I always considered him the pop star (in the best sense – relevant, catchy, necessary) of critical theory/cultural studies. and his ideas got better with age, and they will continue to do so.

    I can only imagine how graduate students are feeling today.

    also, On Kawara died today.

  2. uum On Kawara didn’t die. I just got some silly NEW MEDIA related email and it botched my day. congrats to me on reading the entire message. sorry if I freaked anyone out.

  3. “a powerful critique of contemporary epistemology”

    hmm… it’s quite interesting that it’s probable that the closest that most contemporary epistemologist’s got to engaging with Baudrillard’s work is watching the Matrix.

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