File spoon-archives/baudrillard.archive/baudrillard_1994/baud.May94, message 17

Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 16:07:05 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: interpretation and praxis

I would like to respond to  Beth Baldwin's post by supporting her 
contention that we are all engaging in hyperplay concerning the origins 
of certain words such as "emancipation" and "resistance", without 
acknowledging the fluid nature of language. The meanings of words change 
over time and within various contexts. Our over-interpretation of words 
is beginning to prevent us with obstacles on the way to discourses on 
Baudrillard and ________.

I would however like to differ with Ms. Baldwin on her distinction 
between theory and practice. Is it not possible for the writing or 
speaking of theory-theorizing-to be an action, for example in the 
Nietzschean sense, where philosophy becomes philosophizing- a dance on 
the edge of our postmodern abysses, filled with laughter (ecstasy?)?
Is it not possible to live language rather than treating it as an object 
for further study?- Philosophy as an aesthetic activity.


On Mon, 23 May 1994 wrote:

> 	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
> metaphors?  
> 	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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