culture

culture
  ---- by Richard J. Lane
  Consumer, postmodern, popular or mass-media culture: all these are synonyms that describe the same phenomenon, one that Baudrillard calls 'cultural consumption' (CS, 99). If culture is thought of simply as 'an inherited legacy of works, thought and tradition' (CS, 101), one which undergoes dynamic and productive self-reflective critique, cultural consumption is something quite different: it is the resurrection through caricature and parody of that which has been lost or destroyed. Culture may be defined in the traditional sense as 'the creation and use of meanings' (Tester, 1994: 128); in comparison, cultural consumption is a 'consummation' of meaning - the completion of meaning and the movement to something new. Cruising America, Baudrillard goes in search of this newness; with the flattening of hierarchies in popular culture, where everything is perceived as having equal value, the result is akin to the beauty of the Californian desert (A), or 'the fascination of the very disappearance of all aesthetic and critical forms of life in the irradiation of an objectless neutrality' (A, 124). European cultural theatricality gives way here to the flat desert or city surface (television screen rather than theatrical stage), upon which an endless play of signifiers can circulate. In other words, Baudrillard discovers in the desert cities of California a culture that has replaced the real with signs.
  Mass culture is constituted as such through the process of mass 'communication', the irony being that in the process nothing is communicated at all. In consuming the fashionable, up-to-date signs of mass culture, Baudrillard argues that the one thing not present is culture itself; instead, an immense process of cultural recycling takes place, whereby one's knowledge of culture - its latest fashionable manifestation - stands in for actual content. Culture (with a large 'C'), in effect, has been replaced for Baudrillard with culture (with a small 'c'), where the latter is cyclical, produced by the medium (television) rather than autonomous human subjects. Mass culture follows the same logic of the hyper-real, where the authentic gives way to the simulation. Baudrillard's apparent nostalgia for content is apparent in his term 'lowest common culture' or LCC, a minimum quotient of knowledge lacking in intrinsic value but required to pass entry into contemporary society, engaged via media quizzes or, in our time, 'reality' television shows. Starkly, Baudrillard asserts that 'Mass communication excludes culture and knowledge' (CS, 104). He suggests that this is so because 'There is no question of real symbolic or didactic processes coming into play' (CS, 104) during the preordained answer-andquestion response of the quiz or other testing arenas, such as the shopping mall. The LCC rules, and as McLuhan suggests, the medium is now the message/mass(age). LCC is available on instalment plan, and this fragmentation and dumbing-down of Culture follows the pattern suggested by Benjamin (2008); parodying Benjamin's Angel of History, Baudrillard writes that 'A great democratic wind has blown through the heavenly Jerusalem of culture and art' (CS, 105). What Benjamin's Angel sees, of course, is 'one single catastrophe, which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it at his feet' (Benjamin, 2003: 392). And this catastrophe is our notion of 'progress'. While it is true that Baudrillard follows this mode of thinking, he also simultaneously recoils from such linearity, arguing that with the implosion of meaning a new fascinating, non-linear culture emerges, one where the masses are not so much controlled by the media, but gain autonomy through their lack of response to the media. This fascination with the culture that has destroyed Culture pervades Baudrillard's work, leading to an awareness of points of resistance against the hyper-real: 'sending back to the system its own logic by doubling it; to reflecting, like a mirror, meaning without absorbing it' (SSM, 108). Mass culture, then, does have political force, but such force is fragile, fleeting and temporary. Baudrillard argues that 'All the repressive and reductive strategies of power systems are already present in the internal logic of the sign' (CPS, 163). Turning that logic back upon itself can lead to implosive outcomes - witness 9/11 - but whether turning culture against culture leads to a return to value remains to be seen.
  Passwords
   § America
   § city
   § hyper-reality
   § masses
   § postmodernism / postmodernity

The Baudrillard dictionary. . 2015.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Culture — culture …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Culture.ca — Culture.ca: Culture Online Made in Canada is the first website of its kind that introduces visitors to the strong and vibrant presence of Canadian culture online. On January 15, 2008, the honourable Josée Verner, Minister of Heritage Canada,… …   Wikipedia

  • culture — cul‧ture [ˈkʌltʆə ǁ ər] noun 1. [countable, uncountable] the ideas, beliefs, and customs that are shared and accepted by people in a society: • Western culture places a high value on material wealth. 2. [countable, uncountable] the attitudes or… …   Financial and business terms

  • culture — 1. Here is a word that had mixed fortunes in the 20c, and means all things to all men. There are about 128,000 examples of it (including the plural form and compounds such as culture bound) in the 500 million word Oxford English Corpus (language… …   Modern English usage

  • Culture — Cul ture (k?l t?r; 135), n. [F. culture, L. cultura, fr. colere to till, cultivate; of uncertain origin. Cf. {Colony}.] 1. The act or practice of cultivating, or of preparing the earth for seed and raising crops by tillage; as, the culture of the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • culture — CULTURE. s. f. Les travaux qu on emploie pour rendre la terre plus fertile, et pour améliorer ses productions. La culture des champs. La culture des vignes, des plantes, des fleurs. Travailler, s adonner à la culture de ... Abandonner la culture… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • culture — (n.) mid 15c., the tilling of land, from M.Fr. culture and directly from L. cultura a cultivating, agriculture, figuratively care, culture, an honoring, from pp. stem of colere tend, guard, cultivate, till (see CULT (Cf. cult)). The figurative… …   Etymology dictionary

  • culture — n 1 Culture, cultivation, breeding, refinement are comparable when they denote a quality of a person or group of persons which reflects his or their possession of excellent taste, manners, and social adjustment. Culture implies a high degree of… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • culture — Culture. s. f. v. Les façons qu on donne à la terre pour la rendre plus fertile, & aux arbres & aux plantes pour les faire mieux venir, & les faire mieux rapporter. La culture de la terre. la culture des vignes, des plantes. travailler à la… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • culture — [n1] breeding, education, sophistication ability, accomplishment, address, aestheticism, art, capacity, civilization, class, courtesy, cultivation, delicacy, dignity, discrimination, dress, elegance, elevation, enlightenment, erudition,… …   New thesaurus

  • culture — [kul′chər] n. [ME < L cultura < colere: see CULT] 1. cultivation of the soil 2. production, development, or improvement of a particular plant, animal, commodity, etc. 3. a) the growth of bacteria, microorganisms, or other plant and animal… …   English World dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.