transpolitics
  ---- by Diane Rubenstein
  Transpolitics designates Baudrillard's recognition that 'Things have found a way of avoiding a dialectics of meaning that was beginning to bore them' (FS, 25). The transpolitical world is an extreme one of escalating and paradoxical potentialities; both ecstasy ('the quality proper to any body that spins until all sense is lost, and then shines forth in its pure and empty form' (FS, 28)) and inertia ('frozen forms proliferate, and growth is immobilized in excrescence' (FS, 31)). Each of these states has implications for Baudrillard's theory. Simulation is an 'ecstasy of the real'. Inertia provides the catastrophic form specific to an era of simulation in the earthquake; seismic events are poeticised as 'requiem[s] for the infrastructure' (FS, 40). As framed by these evocations of catastrophic inertia and ecstatic involution, the transpolitical marks a radicalisation of Baudrillard's analysis of the object world. Whereas earlier discussions (SED, S) stressed secrecy and the object's enigma, transparency irrupts in the transpolitical:
  transparency and obscenity of all structures in a destructured universe, the transparency and obscenity of change in a dehistoricized universe, the transparency and obscenity of information in a universe emptied of event, the transparency and obscenity of space in the promiscuity of networks, transparency and obscenity of the social in the masses, of the political in terror, of the body in obesity and genetic cloning . . . (FS, 45)
  Baudrillard's three transpolitical figures correspond to these disappearances and mutations. The obese stages the 'end of the scene of the body' (FS, 45), the hostage/terrorist marks the 'end of the scene of the historical' and 'of the political', the obscene is the 'end of the scene of fantasy' (FS, 45). But they also exemplify other paradigmatic aspects of transpolitics. The obese represent not just the disappearance of the body, but also a lack of limits characteristic of an anomalous quality. For Baudrillard, politics is anomic; there are crises, violence, madness, revolution and possibly (revolutionary) transcendence. Anomie is that which escapes the jurisdiction of a law. Baudrillard discussed modern forms of anomie in The Consumer Society (1998a [1970]), commenting on the Manson murders, serial killer Richard Speck and the Watts riot. Anomaly is that which escapes the norm's jurisdiction; its figures are less 'critical incidences' than 'mutants', exemplified by Andy Warhol and Michael Jackson. American obesity is exemplary of the lack of limits or transcendence to the external world that is literalised as a digestion of 'space in its own appearance'. There is a secondary (meta-level) obesity in the simulation of information systems 'bloated with information that they can never deliver'. Obesity is thus the figure for a social body that has lost 'its law, its scene and its stakes' (FS, 49).
  The hostage also designates the victory of an anomalous (terror) over an anomic form (violence). For Baudrillard, hostages (and terrorists as their symmetrical figure) represent the transpolitical par excellence (FS). Objectively, '(w)e are all hostages' as we can all serve as a dissuasive argument as in nuclear deterrence. But in an era of increasing securitisation, we are also subjective hostages. The transpolitical spaces of terrorism are 'fractile' zones: airports, and especially the embassy, an 'infinitesimal space in which a whole country can be taken hostage' (FS, 59). Terrorism and hostage taking as a generalised activity ('on the part of all nations and all groups') is no longer the political act of a determinate 'desperate oppressed'. Many of Baudrillard's transpolitical examples are from Reagan's America (the US holding the Olympic Games hostage) and the former Soviet Union (USSR taking Sakharov and Afghanistan hostage). These work via a mechanism of dissuasive blackmail ('If you don't do it . . .') far more effective than interdiction and sanctions as it substitutes the suspense that is peculiar to terror.
  Terror underwrites Baudrillard's last transpolitical figure, the obscene. The hostage is a prototype of the pure object we will see in Baudrillard's later writings (IEx, LP) as well as what was already prefigured in the masses. A pure object is one that is torn from the circuit of exchange. Hostage taking thus experimentally stages an impossible exchange or the 'historical loss of the scene of exchange . . . and the social contract' (FS, 73). Paradoxically, this loss of scene is concomitant with both media overrepresentation and the disappearance of a necessary minimal illusion that could frame a politico-historical event of consequence.
  Baudrillard made two important specifications to this presentation in his lecture, 'Transpolitics, Transsexuality, Transaesthetics'. The transpolitical is recoded as a 'fractal stage of value' (Baudrillard, 1992b: 15). As in America (1988b [1986]), Baudrillard also evaluated the transpolitical as an 'achieved utopia'.
  Passwords
   § America
   § masses
   § object
   § obscene
   § terrorism

The Baudrillard dictionary. . 2015.

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