The vanishing of Jean Baudrillard

Abstract

The Vanishing of Jean Baudrillard examines the question of Jean Baudrillard's desire for his own disappearance as theorist. The thesis is an evaluation of the philosophical significance of his work. This is only possible by disengaging his writing from the problematic of 'postmodernism'. The category as applied to his work serves to justify perceived frivolity and aesthetic indulgence. The age of post-modernity is understood to herald a civilization of the image, or of simulation. Baudrillard's analysis of the simulacrum is often brought to bear as a theoretical justification for this argument. However for Baudrillard the simulacrum is not an image. As he conceives it, the simulacrum has the effect of undermining basic principles of reason and causality. The simulacrum qua model has the structure of anterior finality. Ultimately it renders problematic traditional conceptions of theory and its relation to the world. The transformation of the question of production provides the key to his work. Production as the fundamental logic of political economy and representation is superseded by the process of reproduction and simulation. The scene of the real and representation gives way to the exacerbated representation of the obscenity of the hyperreal - the absolute proximity of the more real than real. The hyperreal is not the simple destruction of causality or the production of ends and values but their excess. According to Baudrillard all critical discourse is a function of the previous order of representation. It only serves to sustain the myth of the real and the values of subjectivity. Through his elaboration of the processes of seduction and the fatal strategy Baudrillard attempts to access events which absorb the subject, the real, value and all sense. In this way the vanishing which Baudrillard aspires to can be perceived, though not as a project. His writing becomes the attempted elucidation of an impossible event, without reason, use or future. It is an event that cannot be reconciled to any form of subjectivity

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