---- by Graeme Gilloch
  Of the many possible meanings of the term 'following', two seem to be of particular significance for an understanding of Baudrillard's work. 'Following' may be understood firstly in a spatial/active sense as the conscious pursuit of someone or something by another person or thing, and, secondly, in temporal/relational terms, wherein something occurs subsequent to and is entailed by something else, as logical consequence or necessary conclusion, as an instance of cause and effect.
  In his essay 'Please Follow Me' (1988a [1983]; see also FS and TE) Baudrillard provides an insightful reading of Suite vénitienne, a work combining photographs and text by the French conceptual artist Sophie Calle (SV). After spending the day tailing people randomly around the streets of Paris, Calle meets a man, Henri B., at a party and learns that he is leaving for Venice the following day. Calle travels to Venice herself, phones around the hotels to discover his whereabouts, and then, disguising herself with wig and make-up, spends the next few days following him around the labyrinthine streets and alleyways of the city. As she follows, she dispassionately documents Henri B.'s wanderings and encounters with photographs (of him, of where he has been, of what he himself has photographed) and jots down her own prosaic diary-style entries and musings. After a couple of days of this urban hide-and-seek (and it is Calle that is doing the hiding), Henri B. recognises her and confronts her. The game is over. Calle cannot follow any longer but instead contrives to arrive back in Paris at the same time but by a different route. She takes one last photograph of Henri B. on the platform in the Gare de Lyon.
  This is not, Calle stresses, some sexually motivated stalking. Calle has no particular interest in Henri B., let alone any erotic aspirations or expectations. Indeed, it is this very disinterest, this determination to follow in the apparent absence of any banal motive, of any identifiable psychological or pathological compulsion, that is striking and intriguing. Accordingly, Baudrillard interprets Calle's following as an example of the wholly irrational and utterly irresistible game of appearances, challenges, stratagems and reversals that is seduction (se-ducere: literally 'to lead astray'). For Baudrillard, the ludic, mimetic act of following constitutes a form of shadowing. This is no mere metaphor: Calle becomes Henri B.'s shadow, his double. In copying his movements, Calle creates a 'double life' for the man, not in the mundane sense of a secret existence led by him, but in the profound sense of an existence that remains a secret to him.
  The notion of reversal is also an essential aspect of this seduction. True, he leads and she follows. But it is not Henri B. who is a mystery for the reader, but Calle; it is not he who fascinates but she. While her attention is directed to him, Baudrillard's is focused on, follows, her. The reader is on her trail. It could not be otherwise. And, of course, it is she who must take care to stay unobserved, to remain undetected. The game is ever open to inversion. Eventually, inevitably, he turns on her, turns the tables on her, challenges her. The hunter becomes the hunted.
  Baudrillard himself is an expert exponent of such spatial and, importantly, temporal reversals. That which comes first, which takes logical priority, is displaced and the order of things is reversed. That which follows takes the lead. After all, shadows can as easily come before as after. Consequence becomes contra-sequence; succession becomes precession. The most obvious instance of this is Baudrillard's vision of the 'precession of simulacra' (SS). Today, that which conventionally and logically follows (the copy, the reproduction, the fake) is no longer to be found in the wake of the original, the authentic, the real, but rather it precedes it, outdoes it. In the age of simulation and the hyper-real, it is the 'original' that now 'follows'. The object takes precedence over the subject, a central insight for Baudrillard's conception of fatal theory.
   § double
   § photography
   § reversibility
   § seduction

The Baudrillard dictionary. . 2015.

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