The Baudrillard Dictionary

The Baudrillard Dictionary

The Baudrillard Dictionary

The Baudrillard Dictionary

Synopsis

Dedicated to the work of Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007), one of the world's most influential and controversial public intellectuals, this singular dictionary is an essential introduction to the impact of Baudrillard's ideas on popular culture, art, architecture, sociology, media studies, film, and photography. It defines, details, and contextualizes key terms and influences within Baudrillard's thought, including hyperreality, symbolic exchange, reversibility, simulation, disappearance, seduction, fashion, metaphysics, cloning, the Gulf War, terrorism, and 9/11. Entries are written by more than thirty Baudrillard specialists, including Rex Butler, Mike Gane, Gary Genosko, Victoria Grace, Diane Rubenstein, and Andrew Wernick. Drawing together the expertise of scholars from many countries and disciplines, this dictionary serves as an authoritative yet accessible introduction to the concepts, themes, and philosophical writings of Baudrillard.

Excerpt

A dictionary would begin as of the moment when it no longer provided the meanings of words but their tasks. (Bataille, 1995: 51)

Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007) was a visionary French philosopher, sociologist, cultural critic and ‘intellectual celebrity’ who made a major contribution to theoretical analysis in the social sciences and humanities. In the 1980s, Baudrillard became famous far beyond the narrow confines of academe, especially in North America and the rest of the English-speaking world. The translation of his ideas into English – especially by the publisher Semiotext(e) – meant that he came to be thought of, particularly in the popular press, as the ‘guru of postmodernism’, closely associated with terms such as simulation and hyper-reality. However, while Baudrillard became well known as the world's leading theorist of simulation – fêted not just in academic circles, but also in the worlds of art, architecture and film-making – the widespread caricaturisation of him as a postmodernist who believed that images had now replaced reality is completely wrong: ‘People took “simulation” for postmodernism, and I became a guru of postmodernism … [I have] enjoyed undeserved success based on a total misunderstanding’ (UD, 21). Unfortunately, this misconception was reinforced by the release in 1999 of the movie, The Matrix, which, through a visual reference to one of Baudrillard's books (SS), sought to align itself to his philosophy when in fact the twist of the film – that the Matrix masks the ‘real’ – is one that owes its debt to Plato (just like so many other movies: The Truman Show, eXistenZ, Total Recall, Surrogates and so on), rather than poststructuralism and the disappearance of illusion (Smith, 2005).

Rather than a ‘postmodernist’, Baudrillard was, in fact, a trenchant critic of many of the taken- for- granted features of advanced capitalism and western culture – consumerism, the postmodern celebration of pluralism and ‘diversity’, globalisation, capitalism, modernity, mass communication and the information economy – as destroyers of the act and social relation of symbolic exchange. Throughout his long career, Baudrillard became globally famous for his challenges to received wisdom and the status quo. Most well known in this regard are his works that questioned traditional . . .

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