excess


excess
  ---- by Ashley Woodward
  Baudrillard's treatment of the theme of excess varies over the course of his writings, and it appears as both a positively and a negatively valued idea. Baudrillard's early understanding of excess is significantly indebted to Georges Bataille. Excess plays a crucial role in what Bataille terms 'general economy', an economy of natural forces opposed to the restricted economy of capitalism. While capitalist economy is predicated on utilitarian principles of good use and maximum profit, Bataille contends that all systems produce excesses of energy that need to be consumed in useless expenditures, examples of which in human culture are sacrifice, waste, death, luxury and eroticism (Bataille, 1991a, 1991b). What most interests Baudrillard is the way Bataille's general economy suggests a transgression and disruption of capitalism through excess. In For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign (1981 [1972]), symbolic exchange is reminiscent of Bataille's vision of excess: it involves excessive forms of social behaviour (such as gift-giving and the wasteful expenditure of goods), and promises to transgress the order of capitalist political economy. From Symbolic Exchange and Death (1993a [1976]) onward, however, Baudrillard moves away from the theme of transgression and correspondingly alters his understanding of excess. In these later works, excess plays a double role. On the one hand, it continues to name an Other to the system of capitalist political economy; on the other hand, it indicates the extremes of the contemporary capitalist system itself. As the latter, excess is a key idea underlying Baudrillard's analysis of contemporary culture in terms of hyper-reality, the implosion of meaning in the media and so on, as the following passages from The Vital Illusion (2000) well indicate:
  Let us be clear about this: if the Real is disappearing, it is not because of a lack of it - on the contrary, there is too much of it. It is the excess of reality that puts an end to reality, just as the excess of information puts an end to information, or the excess of communication puts an end to communication. (VI, 65-6) . . . Everywhere we see a paradoxical logic: the idea is destroyed by its own realization, by its own excess. (VI, 47)
  As the former, excess indicates all those things which continue to resist incorporation into the systems of reality, information and communication: seduction, the fatal, destiny and so on. Thus in Baudrillard's mature works excess indicates both the tendency of contemporary systems to exceed their proper bounds and attempt to assimilate everything, and the excessive remainder which refuses to be assimilated. In these later works, far from seeing excess as a transgression which would lead to a liberation, Baudrillard stresses the non-distinction of two, oppositely valued, forms of excess:
  In a way there is no difference between the excess that represents the saturation of a system and that leads it to a final baroque death by overgrowth (excroissance) and the excess that stems from the fatal, from destiny. Basically, today, it is impossible to distinguish between good and bad excess . . . that is precisely what makes the present situation original and interesting. (BL, 37)
  Passwords
   § culture
   § destiny
   § fatal
   § gift
   § hyper-reality
   § media
   § seduction

The Baudrillard dictionary. . 2015.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Excess — Ex*cess , n. [OE. exces, excess, ecstasy, L. excessus a going out, loss of self possession, fr. excedere, excessum, to go out, go beyond: cf. F. exc[ e]s. See {Exceed}.] 1. The state of surpassing or going beyond limits; the being of a measure… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • excess — ex·cess adj: more than a usual or specified amount; specif: additional to an amount specified under another insurance policy excess coverage excess insurance Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • excess — n Excess, superfluity, surplus, surplusage, overplus denote something which goes beyond a limit or bound. Excess applies to whatever exceeds a limit, measure, bound, or accustomed degree {in measure rein thy joy; scant this excess Shak.} {the… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Excess-3 — binary coded decimal (XS 3), also called biased representation or Excess N, is a numeral system used on some older computers that uses a pre specified number N as a biasing value. It is a way to represent values with a balanced number of positive …   Wikipedia

  • excess — [ek ses′, ikses′; ] also, esp.for adj. [, ek′ses΄] n. [ME & OFr exces < L excessus < pp. of excedere: see EXCEED] 1. action or conduct that goes beyond the usual, reasonable, or lawful limit 2. lack of moderation; intemperance;… …   English World dictionary

  • Excess — is a state of something being present beyond a requisite amount. In certain contexts, it has a more specialized meaning:* In insurance, similar to deductible. * In chemistry, describing any reagent that is not the limiting reagent. * Excess is… …   Wikipedia

  • excess — (n.) late 14c., from O.Fr. exces (14c.) excess, extravagance, outrage, from L. excessus departure, a going beyond the bounds of reason or beyond the subject, from stem of excedere to depart, go beyond (see EXCEED (Cf. exceed)). As an adjective… …   Etymology dictionary

  • excess — [n1] overabundance of something balance, by product, enough, exorbitance, exuberance, fat, fulsomeness, glut, inundation, lavishness, leavings, leftover, luxuriance, nimiety, overdose, overflow, overkill, overload, overmuch, overrun, oversupply,… …   New thesaurus

  • excess — ► NOUN 1) an amount that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable. 2) lack of moderation, especially in eating or drinking. 3) (excesses) outrageous or immoderate behaviour. 4) Brit. a part of an insurance claim to be paid by the insured.… …   English terms dictionary

  • excess — in an insurance policy, excess clauses specify that the policyholder will be responsible for a portion of claims under certain conditions. Glossary of Business Terms The dollar amount by which the equity exceeds the margin requirements in a… …   Financial and business terms

  • excess — ♦♦♦ excesses (The noun is pronounced [[t]ɪkse̱s[/t]]. The adjective is pronounced [[t]e̱kses[/t]].) 1) N VAR: with supp, usu a N of n An excess of something is a larger amount than is needed, allowed, or usual. An excess of houseplants in a small …   English dictionary


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