File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 95

Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 06:25:08 -0500
Subject: Re: the Goths

steve.devos wrote:

Baudrillard has always been extremely open in aknowledging the roots of
his theoretical practice, but they are very broad, ranging from the
above to Surrealism, Situationism, Lefrebvre, Hegalo-Marxism and
Saussure's Anagrams with references to Freud, Lacan and Althussar, I am
by no means certain that it makes much sense to interpret, to attempt to
understand his work through Mauss and Bataille.


I recognize you are very right and, of course, Baudrillard has had many
influences. However, in my post I wasn't talking about Baudrillard in
toto, but about his theory of symbolic exchange. Furthermore, I am
certainly not alone in this point of view. Here is what Douglas Kellner
says about Baudrillard's theory: "precapitalist societies are governed
by forms of symbolic exchange similar to Bataille's notion of a general
economy, supplemented by Mauss's theory of the gift and countergift,
rather than by production and utility."

Certainly it is possible to critique this point of view (as Lyotard did
in The Libidinal Economy) but since you and Glenn both raised the
specter of Baudrillard, I was working within that theoretical
perspective.  From the historical differentiation Badrillard sets up,
societies of symbolic exchange are clearly governed by a playlike
structure while societies of production in turn are governed by work.
The open possibility in Baudrillard is that the societies of simulation
may witness the return to something like play, albeit in a banal and
debased form. At any rate, in my reading of Baudrillard play remains a
central component and I also think the idea of play has many
implications above and beyond Baudrillard.

With regard to the frogs, are you aware that Sir Thomas Browne worked
out a metaphor like this, namely that man is an amphibian. The
possibility of some radical transformation, whether to frog or
butterfly, has always governed the religious mentality. (The greek word
'psyche' also means butterfly.)

I am aware that the subject of religion appears to be a hot button for
you and I am willing to let this thread die (perhaps to be reincarnated
in another form elsewhere).  However, I just want to allude to several
trends that indicate for me something like religion is still at work.

1. In your last post you refer to technology.  Certainly, you are also
aware of interactive forms such as virtual technology. I think this has
the potential to develop greater different states of awareness once the
technology has been developed.

2. When I suggested that drug laws might be a form of religious
persecution, your response was simply one of question marks. Personally,
I find it somewhat incredulous that you don't want to acknowledge the
political implication of current drug laws. (it reminds me of the
sixties and the traditional response of the old left - what do drugs
have to do with class war?)

Again, I will simply remind you that there is a good amount of
historical evidence that suggests a relationship between drug use and
religion and, just as with VT, drugs have the potential to radically
transform consciousness, which is for me the main reason they have been
banned. "How do you keep them at the office after they seen the white
light and raised their kundalini?"

For some good pop perspectives on this topic, I would recommend Terence
McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson.

3. From studies of Shamanism, scholars like Eliade have pointed to what
they call "archaic techniques of ecstasy", methods for entering altered
states of consciousness. These techiques have been disseminated and the
hidden structures of esoteric techniques for changing consciousness have
now reached a much wider audience.

The point I am trying to make is that something is going on here,
whether you call it religion, the evolution of consciousness or Hegelian
dialectics of history. The old hippie ideal, for all its faults, had
some things going for it. Simplify our lives, tranform social
relationships into play and use our new found freedom to explore the
hidden dimensions of consciousness and enter into states of love, joy,
peace and ecstasy. That is the form of religion I have been arguing for
and I think it still has vast political implications.  In fact, I would
go so far as to say, significant political change will not take place
until people first have a radical shift in their awareness.     

"When the doors of perception are cleansed, we will see all things as
they are - infinite."


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