---- by Gerry Coulter
  Baudrillard was a writer at odds with the universe. Writing was for him a kind of abreaction, an acting out: 'you push your life out . . . into your writing' (PH, 146-7). He often wrote of everyday events in a way that sought an escape velocity from so-called 'traditional academic discourse' and his oeuvre is an interesting example of the way in which theory and literature begin to communicate with greater affection in the late twentieth century. It serves as a kind of proof of his notion that 'Theory is never so fine as when it takes the form of a fiction or a fable' (CM5, 11). When his writing produced 'meaning' it was 'to play that meaning against the system itself' (ED, 41). Faced with an indifferent universe and a world given to us as unintelligible and enigmatic, why should writing attempt to clarify or simplify? For Baudrillard 'we must make that world even more unintelligible, even more enigmatic' (VI, 83).
  By working and reworking mysterious paradoxes into the lyrical complexity of writing, Baudrillard took his revenge on the universe, a revenge on notions such as the 'Real', 'Truth' and 'Meaning' to argue that theory precedes the world - and writing brings it into existence (F). For Baudrillard, writers 'cause things to exist, not by producing them in the material sense of the term, but by defying them, by confronting them' (BL, 44). He avoided ideological or moral critique because he felt these were forms of writing 'obsessed with meaning and content' and with the 'political finality of discourse' (PC, 103). For Baudrillard such forms do violence to 'the act of writing, the poetic, ironic, allusive force of language . . . the juggling with meaning' (PC, 103) that is so vital. Writing was Baudrillard's politics (BL). Writing concerned the production of illusion for Baudrillard (BL), and when it accomplishes this, writing is truly a form of art. For Baudrillard, the job of art is to assist us in understanding the vital illusion behind everything - that the real hides behind appearances. If all art can do is become entangled in the real (such as writing that adds meaning to the world), it loses its way as art and becomes something else. The absolute conspiracy of art for Baudrillard is in its giving up on illusion and seeking the real (P).
  For Baudrillard, writing is also 'an inhuman and unintelligible activity - one must always do it with a certain disdain, without illusions, and leave it to others to believe in one's own work' (CM, 68). Writing (theory) for Baudrillard was to observe a fatal strategy - to go to extremes. He mainly wrote in fragments or short essays. 'I just write for myself', he wrote; 'I no longer pretend to that privileged position of a person who has the right to know and to write' for others (BL, 182). Writing for Baudrillard was a precious 'singularity', 'a resistance to real time', 'something that does not conform', 'an act of resistance', the 'invention of an antagonistic world' rather than a 'defence of a world that might have existed' (P, 32). Writing, he wrote, 'is the living alternative to the worst of what it says' (CM5, 43).
  Writing was for him a form of challenge and always a provocation (ED). It held a seductive power (PC) and was a kind of theory fiction where things in the end simply fall apart on their own into fragments separated only by the play of correspondence between them (BL). Behind Baudrillard's writing was not what we would call a form of hope but he was very optimistic in his own way. This came from a deep understanding of reversibility and the self-destructive logic of systems from the small scale to the global (P). The reason theory and writing are so closely related for Baudrillard is that for him writing is closer to thinking than to speaking.
  Baudrillard wrote about our world of illusion - one in which truth, meaning and the real exist only along local and restricted horizons, as partial objects (SS). He was critical of the death of politics and the proliferation of simulation and virtuality - but he did postulate a way to thrive in these bleak conditions while continuing to think and write: 'We no longer have any standards of truth or objectivity, but a scale of probability . . . The space between the true and the false is no longer a relational space, but a space of random distribution . . . The uncertainty principle does not belong to physics alone; it is at the heart of all our actions, at the heart of "reality"' (SC, 85 and 86). Writing was a source of deep pleasure for Baudrillard.
   § art
   § fatal
   § fragments
   § illusion
   § literature
   § may 1968
   § singularity

The Baudrillard dictionary. . 2015.


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