File spoon-archives/baudrillard.archive/baudrillard_1994/baud.May94, message 10

Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 09:02:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: interpretation and praxis

	At the risk of having someone ask "what would Baudrillard
think" (because I'm not too interested in what the man, Baudrillard,
would think), I'd like some critical feedback from members of
this community on what seems to be the hyper overinterpretation
of words.  Obviously, we can all use a dictionary, but any good
lexicographer will tell you that denotations are based on usage
and are subject to constant and rapid change as long as a language
lives.  Most of us don't use words like "strategy," "resistance,"
"emancipation," etc., to refer to military struggles.  These
words have assumed new connotations.

	It's all very interesting on a psycholinguistic level, I 
know, but do you think we're interpreting to death -- avoiding
praxis?  I'm personally concerned as a teacher and a scholar
about postmodern nihilism.  Do we have to avoid individual or
social praxis, values deliberation, or even lively conversation
because we can't get beyond semantics and interpreting one another's

	When Madeley speaks about a theory's "emancipatory
potential" to promote critical thinking, or about how one might
"proceed" or "succeed," do we have to ask "proceed where" and
"succeed at what"?  Praxis is always informed by theory or some
ilk; but individuals and communities decide for themselves what
the praxis will be.  "At what" and "where" will be different
for different groups and individuals.  As people interested
in what Baudrillard has to say (rather than in what he might
think, approval-wise), let us talk about "how" his theory
informs our praxis.  Calling into question our metaphors and
our word choices can be useful, but I wish we could call them
into question and then move beyond them.

Beth Baldwin
University of North Carolina at Greensboro


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