Excuses, Excuses

There are so very many reasons that I haven’t posted in a week:

  1. I was out of town
  2. It’s spring break, and blogging is a lot like work
  3. I’ve been busy busy with search committees, pilot projects, and classes
  4. I can’t find a sofa that I like to replace the one that I have
  5. My dog ate my homework

You get the idea.  All of these pale in comparison, however, to an excellent excuse for not blogging: mourning the passing of Jean Baudrillard, pre-eminent postmodern theorist.  Everytime I teach my seminar on postmodernism, I ask a student to introduce the class to Simulacra and Simulation.  Of all of the theories that grow out of postmodern insecurity and ennui, hyperreality is the one that students connect to almost immediately.  Somehow, unlike Jameson’s “logic of late capitalism” or Lyotard’s postmodern sublime and “incredulity toward meta-narratives,” both of which feel like interpretations of a past era, Baudrillard’s writing feels as if it still has its finger on the consumer turbo pulse.

So that’s what I was doing.  Paying homage to a great theorist through blog silence.

hat tip: Clancy for posting the news.

2 thoughts on “Excuses, Excuses

  1. There should be something clever to say about how Baudrillard never died. Well, he didn’t until this story broke, right? Did this story even “break” at all? I wouldn’t have known this if I hadn’t read it here. Pathetic matter of fact = I didn’t realize he was still alive, at least, not beyond the Gulf War years. Condolences to those who were close and really knew him. This is much more real and not celebreality for them. How does his death affect those who weren’t close to him anyway (beyond knowing the author by his works)– ie, the reading public? How “real” are any celebrity deaths (How many blogs joke about Anna Nicole?)? Do the achievements, spheres of influence, and nature of respect differ for different celebrities?

    Furthermore, for the reading PUBLIC (and forgive me if this is all too obtuse), is the biggest concern ‘who’s going to fill those shoes’? Who’s going to engage like that? Who will have the nerve to make such bold claims as he has about 9/11, the Gulf War, etc?

    What are the implications of this announcement beyond the passing of celebrity versus deep personal mourning for family and friends? For the rest of us, do the lives of such influential people ever end? Doesn’t writing grant the author some immortality?

  2. Whoa. There are any number of questions to answer there, Corey. I’m most struck by the alignment of Baudrillard with Anna Nicole. To some extent (and one that would both horrify and amuse ol’ Jean, I expect), both are celebrities in their own respective contexts. I keep waiting for someone to write about the “theorist rock star” phenomenon, along the lines of “Ladies and Gentlemen, Terry Eagleton has left the building!”

    As to how his death affects the reading public: to the extent that I’m one member of a reading public, I suppose that I’m a bit saddened by the deaths of celebrity theorists. When Said died last year (the year before), I remember being shocked. This is hokey, but I’d describe it as the feeling that an important voice had gone out of the world. If the role of a theorist is to reveal the world, society, injustice, being, etc., then it is a loss to readers and communities of readers when one dies. As you say, their past writing bestows on them a kind of immortality (Marx, for instance, isn’t getting any less important). We’re robbed, however, of their thoughts and interpretations of contemporary events.

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