Archive for the ‘Baudrillard’ Category

Simenon: Deconstruction, Exposure, and… Boom!

October 4, 2008

“The only method I used was to obey no method at all”.

[Deconstruction:] Gifted with a strange ability to deconstruct the unseen, the “non-event”, the “on-going” banality of a daily life, [Exposure:] and to expose those tiny particles which make life so miserable, [Boom:] and then to throw in an extra element, a routine-breaker, that blows it all up, leaving behind a mutilated reality, incapable of restoring its previously false state – is Simenon.

Baudrillard must have deplored the stories of this great author, who tirelessly (365 stories, one for each day of the year, organized in 25 volumes) tore the illusion which is reality, leaving us in a void.

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Nothing left to confess

June 30, 2008

Given the mass of evidence, there is no plausible hypothesis but reality. Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime

The following is a story about the change in the role of the Body in forming Identity, providing Privacy and knowing the Truth, from the Spanish Inquisition to Minority Report – two time-symbols of body-reference. This is also the story of a rare footnote – one that stands apart in a book that owns it: footnote#3, p. 170, in Paul Virilio’s Speed and Politics.

Paul Virilio

“In the Middle Ages, the question is put to a body under torture, one that “knows the truth” and must let it escape in spite of himself”.

The truth [of a person] is embedded in the body.

“In the 19th century, torture is abolished but not out of humanitarianism, but because they realized that any act (every human movement) leaves external traces, an involuntary stamp. From then on, they scientifically make proofs talk“.

The truth [of a person] is manifested in the body‘s deeds, an involuntary stamp.

“From identical sets of material proofs they could draw different coherent discourses, each canceling the other out, by simply changing the order of elements”.

You stay quiet, Mister, while these two gentlemen, the prosecutor and the defender, tell your story. We’ll see which version of the truth will win. Anyway, your story is no longer relevant.

“We could imagine that the gaps and hazards inherent in the ordering of materials should disappear, since with computers they could make the accusing discourse perfectly coherent”.

… and by that, removing any competing versions of Truth. With the amount of parallel, simultaneous reports about any given event, syndicated and correlated from a mass of individuals, Reality becomes a statistically unified version of truth, Reality, as told by the machine, or as Baudrillard [probably] calls it: the Automatic Writing of Reality.

“At that point, they could do totally without the confession of the accused, who would be less informed about his own crime than the computer, and who, no longer being the one who knows “the truth”, would have nothing left to confess”.

Once Reality is told by the machine (as it is the case in Minority Report), another step forward is taken: Truth is no longer built out of the Past, but is rather an illusion projected into the Future. The computer is using statistics to build patterns of possible behavior out of a single, and somehow correlated event. When that happens, it will suffice to think Murder to be immediately arrested by the Reality Police.

Given the mass of evidence to the contrary, there is no solution but illusion. Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime

“When I become death” according to Levinas

July 3, 2007

Emmanuel Levinas’ La Mort et Le Temps (English translation in God, Death and Time) opens with a reading of Heidegger´s Sein und Zeit, a reading that evolves around the themes of the carnival, the essence of time, the nature of death, the type of questions to which answers are not the right answer, and finally – literature as a masking process (rather than a revealing one).

[But maybe I’m wrong. It could well be that Levinas says nothing of the above themes, and that it is my own philosophical delusions, the consequences of my posts here on Foucault, Lyotard, Barthes, Deleuze, and Burroughs.]

Emmanuel Levinas

The Carnival.

The carnival represents the absolute assimilation of a human being with the role assigned to him/her by the system. Yet by this assimilation the human being ceases to be a human being, for being a human is to continuously question “Being”, i.e. to be a critical being towards Being, constantly reassessing the possibilities of an always changing existence. This is when Levinas uses the term ek-sistence – existing from the outside (and it is also where the two reasons of the first Emmanuel – K. – are fully present).

The critical spectator stands behind the curtain, looking inside the theater, considering her options on stage. This cannot be done while on stage, while wearing the mask of the carnival.

And yet. “Behind the curtain there is nothing to see… nor beneath it”, says Deleuze, following Foucault. The critical being is therefore not to be imagined out of stage; s/he is not to be imagined as a passive spectator. Rather, the critical being is assimilated into the system’s role, while continuously challenging that role. Indeed, says Deleuze, behind the curtain there is nothing to see, “but it was all the more important each time to describe the curtain”. So we are in the carnival, but we don’t play wholeheartedly. We’re aware of the play, and we improvise whenever we see fit.

The Question.

The question of being is a question to which answers are not the right answer, the first trait of Being, being the mark of that Question. Barthes maintains that those questions of Being can only live within Literature, but he also maintains that Literature is a carnivalesque mask. The only way to cope with these contradictions is to follow Foucault’s advise: “We have to move beyond the outside-inside alternative; we have to be at the frontiers. Criticism indeed consists of analyzing and reflecting upon limits.” (What is Enlightenment).

Cain: marked by the Question of Abel’s death – a bookmark on Cain’s Time axis.

Time.

Time, explains Levinas, is the Other. The infinite time is the antipode of the finite human, the Other remaining necessarily out of our reach. Time, therefore, represents all possible Otherness.

Time is the Other. What a strange sentence. The Rhizome of the nomadic others is a Rhizome of Time Capsules.

Ich und Du.

The Other, through his facial movements conveys a message to the spectator, who is consequently responsible for processing the message, and of providing an answer. We can therefore say that Communication creates responsibility which, in turn, creates individuality: “I” is responsible for this and that person, because there are communication links between us.

We’ll see next that communication is a mask; like literature it does not reveal [things from behind the curtain], but rather conceals [the true essence of being]. Facial movements are answers. But Being is being a Question.

What does the nomadic Rhizome mask? What does Time mask? Is Time the Curtain?

As for Death.

When I become death

As for Death – death needs time for what it kills to grow in. Death needs the Other, just like “I” needs it. But why does Death need Time?

Think of Death as a bookmark, engraving a point on our time axis. This point, says Levinas, opens a gate to a communication-free world – the end of exchanging answers. Finally, we, the dead, can realize our human potential of being a pure question. The cover story of our life, the Literature told by our face, by our facial movements is finally completed. The End.

When we become death, death is the seed from which we grow – the seed of the pure Question.

I give myself up to language

May 2, 2007

“I give myself up to language, anon, in a gift economy”, ecko4inc

I give myself up to language

Erasure Heads, part#2

(Click to enlarge)

Language, a reversed panopticon. In the heart of the desert one stands circled with guardian Words. Their gaze. All it needs to see them is to take one step outside yourself; the whole path lasts no longer than one step.

The Gaze of the Sign

April 24, 2007

(This post follows Gater’s role in Body/Language: Barthes-Foucault vs. Gater’s Taboo)

“The signs exist insofar as they are recognized, i.e. insofar as they are repeated”.

Through this simple definition Barthes introduces the concept of the other (used as a technique in the philosophical discourses of the past [the Greek friend, see D&G]; used as an existential condition in Buber, Barthes and others).

We’re all signs. Think about concepts. Each concept has a never ending trail of other concepts, and behind each concept there’s a human – that human who gave life to the concept in the first place; that human who revived the concept after it has long been forgotten. With every word we pronounce, and every sign we digest, it’s the history of humanity mashed between our teeth.

We’re all signs, and hence our existence is dependent on recognition and repetition – repeated recognition by other signs.

If God is the first Word and words are signs, then God needs repeated recognition just the same. This can probably explains why we, the other signs, have been originally created, and in his own image.

Sometimes, we like to create our own recognition signs – we can then play and replay them again and again – an endlessly repeating loop of recognition.

“I like to do it with my friends; sometimes we videotape it, then we watch it…”.

This is a cry for meaning – a desperate need for recognition. For whatever reason, a new sign is created for this purpose: a videotape in which the original sign is captured. Then, the original sign plays and replays the secondary sign, the videotape, gaining through this repetition the so wanted existential recognition.

But then, something else happens. While watching the secondary sign affirming our existence, we do it again. This time, the original sign is the one affirming and recognizing the existence of the secondary sign.

This is the potlatch: one affirms our existence and we reaffirm back his/her own existence, in a looped process that can potentially persist for a while. The more this process continues, the more respectful and ‘full of life’ the two signs become.

Only, the inhuman sign not only cannot become ‘more full of life’, but it is found to have very strange effects, when used as an affirming sign: the potlatch is canceled!

Here’s an example: you’re giving your friend a present. Your friend is very happy. She then wants to repay you for making her happy and so she gives you back a present: only, it is the same present you gave her in the first place. Evidently, this will not make you happy, for by that act, your friend has canceled your act. It is a canceling exchange, because it’s an echo.

Whatever echoes, mirrors, cannot be considered as an existential affirmation and recognition. Whatever echoes cannot be used as a potlatch, for the echo cancels the potlatch. Gater’s video should be seen as a cry for a meaningful existence. But the inhuman videotape gives no salvation: it’s a static dancing.

There’s no replacement for the human gaze.

The Gaze of the Sign

Jean Baudrillard Just Completed the Act of Living

March 6, 2007

Via Jahsonic I have learned about the death of Jean Baudrillard. It was a strange sensation, watching the image of this man, knowing that now indeed the image communicates absence, an absolute void. RIP.

Jean Baudrillard

I thought what could be said more, and remembered a short Deleuzean reference to “La Mort”, or Death as it is called.

(free style English trans. follows)

“Ce que vous appelez mourir, c’est achever de vivre, et ce que vous appelez naître c’est commencer à mourir, comme aussi ce que vous appelez vivre, c’est mourir en vivant. Vous n’attendez pas la mort, mais vous l’accompagnez perpétuellement”.

English:

“What you call to die is completing the act of living, and what you call to be born is to start dying, just as what you call to live is to die while living. You don’t wait for death to come; rather you are its perpetual companion”.

(Taken from Deleuze’s lecture La Taverne [on Leibniz])

Distribute in Space; Order in Time

February 5, 2007

The more I dwell into the Foucault/Deleuze worlds the more they get interconnected, interlaced. There’s love in the way one prepares the terrain for the other; one realtes to and interprets the other.

In “Postscripts on the Societies of Control” (1990) Deleuze starts with Foucault’s description of “enclosures” – those closed places (closed=mapped=borders) created by the western society since the 18th century. Family-School-Army-Factory-Grave (with bifurcations into Hospitals, Prisons etc.).

They move you from one enclosure to another, telling you: “You are no longer in your family”; “You are no longer in school”; “You are no longer in the Army”; and finally – “You are no longer”.

deleuze_officeview.jpg

Deleuze’s Office View

To distribute in Space; to order in Time

“Foucault has brilliantly analyzed the ideal project of these environments of enclosure, particularly visible within the factory: to concentrate; to distribute in space; to order in time; to compose a productive force within the dimension of space-time whose effect will be greater than the sum of its component forces.”

In his “Image-Movement”, Deleuze refers to Bergson’s idea of image – the image as [real] matter. Anything is image, including ourselves. And film-making starts by arranging images on a Plan. This is the distribution in Space. Next comes Image-Temps – the ordering in Time.
Remember – we are images (images are not representation of something). This is the door knob turned, afterwards, by Jean Baudrillard.

DJ Spooky’s Remix Simulacrum

February 4, 2007

“Today, the voice you speak with may not be your own”, DJ Spooky

dj-spooky-todaythevoice.jpg

I thought this sentence was clear. But then, after thinking about it for a while, I concluded that it eludes me. I have several possible meanings with much more unanswered questions about its potential semantics.

Meanings

It can refer to the pessimistic Baudrillardian Integral Reality theory, in which anything is a simulacrum, a fake, including our “self”, our voice.
[OR]
It can be understood as an optimistic, web2.0 share-all style, in which the right to remix and to appropriate others’ voices goes mainstream.

Questions

– What is “My” voice? What guarantees the authenticity of a certain “Voice”?
– Remix: Given that the human history of ideas, progress, art, etc. is the history of Remix, i.e. the unexpected association of different, seemingly unrelated memes, should “remix” be classified as an authentic voice or an unauthentic one?
– What is different “Today”? Until Today, what kind of voice have we used – our own or others’?
– What is “Today” – where does it point to?

The sequel to this post is The Death of the Author; the Birth of the Voice.

Forgetting

February 3, 2007

forgetting1.JPG

Click on the image to see full size