File spoon-archives/baudrillard.archive/baudrillard_1995/baudrillard.07-95, message 8


Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 22:50:44 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: translation of "Gulf War article"


Ryan,

At what point does a dicussion of Baudrillard and postcolonialism stop
being a discussion of Baudrillard? In rejecting fatality, symbolic
exchange, the focus on death, what do you leave of Baudrillard to take to
the the engagement? Why can the discussion of Baudrillard - and
Baudrillard in particular - be "worthwhile" in that context?

I ask because it seems that identifying the mass(es) and the "postcolonial
subject" conflicts almost across the board with the argument JB is making
in "...Shadow..." - where he argues against trying to identify the
mass(es) with any group of subjects. 

Based on your previous posts, it seems clear that the inertial "power"
that JB attributes to the mass(es) is not going to answer your call for
struggle and resistance. But must we be so activ-ist in our criteria for
resistance? Or can we credit the mass-as-resister, as what reduces the
flow of power (perhaps to nothing)? It seems to me that the only way that
Baudrillard can be "worthwhile" in the sort of political context you're
suggesting is if we can indeed credit this radical passive-ity (which is
not a pacifism - but that might still be an opening to talking about the
sorts of things you want to address...)

I'm inclined to want to take the Baudrillardian account of the non-active
power of the mass(es) quite seriously. It is an alien, but no less
effective "strategy" for "I"s reduced, if we want to put it that way, to
participation in a sort of "spongy" object-ivity. But I want to also work
along another line, that of subjects still attached however
anachronistically to their "I"s, and still consciously bound anxiously
into webs of political power of the sort the we generally (and however
anachronistically) recognize. The more or less spinozist discourse about
the divisibility of bodies and a politics in some sense "beside" the
subject - i'm thinking work by Hardt, Negri, Deleuze, Guattari - seem to
open a space in which we could understand Baudrillard's view as at least
one moment of our contemporary political reality. 

That won't be enough for some folks, I'm sure - particularly as sketchy as
it is in my mind at this point. It will be too much for others, who prefer
to think of Baudrillard as post-political. I'm personally not inclined to
look for a comprehensive answer to any question in JB's writings, but
value the ways in which he manages to take my own attempts at philosophy
and politics out of their comfortable courses. 

A thought: list-owners fantasize about the sorts of interactions that
could go on on their lists (not a great deal, but a bit, particulary when
all is quiet. ;) One of the possibilities that stikes me in my most
wishful thinking is the possibility a sort of extended, "seduced/seducing"
reading of Baudrillard's work - that is, a reading that follows its logics
down into the black hole, and doesn't flinch when the going gets a little
uncomfortable. This is, of course, both a dream and a nightmare...

-shawn






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