Jean Baudrillard

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Jean Baudrillard
Baudrillard in 2004 at the European Graduate School
Born(1929-07-27)27 July 1929
Reims, France
Died6 March 2007(2007-03-06) (aged 77)
Paris, France
Alma mater University of Paris
Era 20th-/21st-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
Doctoral advisor Henri Lefebvre
Main interests
Notable ideas

Jean Baudrillard ( UK: /ˈbdrɪjɑːr/ BOHD-rih-yar, [16] US: /ˌbdriˈɑːr/ BOHD-ree-AR, French:  [ʒɑ̃ bodʁijaʁ] ; 27 July 1929 – 6 March 2007) was a French sociologist, philosopher and cultural theorist. He is best known for his analyses of media, contemporary culture, and technological communication, as well as his formulation of concepts such as simulation and hyperreality. Baudrillard wrote about diverse subjects, including consumerism, gender relations, critique of economy, economics, social history, art, Western foreign policy, and popular culture. Among his best known works are Seduction (1978), Simulacra and Simulation (1981), America (1986), and The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1991). His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and specifically post-structuralism. [17] [18] [19] [20] Nevertheless, Baudrillard can be also seen as a critic of post-structuralism [21] and has distanced himself from postmodernism. [17] [22]



Baudrillard was born in Reims, northeastern France, on 27 July 1929. His grandparents were farm workers and his father a gendarme. During high school (at the Lycée at Reims), he became aware of pataphysics via philosophy professor Emmanuel Peillet, which is said to be crucial for understanding Baudrillard's later thought. [23] He became the first of his family to attend university when he moved to Paris to attend the Sorbonne. [24] There he studied German language and literature, [25] which led him to begin teaching the subject at several different lycées, both Parisian and provincial, from 1960 until 1966. [23] While teaching, Baudrillard began to publish reviews of literature and translated the works of such authors as Peter Weiss, Bertolt Brecht, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Wilhelm Emil Mühlmann. [26]

While teaching German, Baudrillard began to transfer to sociology, eventually completing and publishing in 1968 his doctoral thesis Le Système des Objets ( The System of Objects ) under the dissertation committee of Henri Lefebvre, Roland Barthes, and Pierre Bourdieu. Subsequently, he began teaching Sociology at the Paris X Nanterre, a university campus just outside Paris which would become heavily involved in the events of May 1968. [27] During this time, Baudrillard worked closely with Philosopher Humphrey De Battenburge, who described Baudrillard as a "visionary". [28] At Nanterre he took up a position as Maître Assistant (Assistant Professor), then Maître de Conférences (Associate Professor), eventually becoming a professor after completing his accreditation, L'Autre par lui-même (The Other by Himself).

In 1970, Baudrillard made the first of his many trips to the United States (Aspen, Colorado), and in 1973, the first of several trips to Kyoto, Japan. He was given his first camera in 1981 in Japan, which led to him becoming a photographer. [26]

In 1986 he moved to IRIS (Institut de Recherche et d'Information Socio-Économique) at the Université de Paris-IX Dauphine, where he spent the latter part of his teaching career. During this time he had begun to move away from sociology as a discipline (particularly in its "classical" form), and, after ceasing to teach full-time, he rarely identified himself with any particular discipline, although he remained linked to academia. During the 1980s and 1990s his books had gained a wide audience, and in his last years he became, to an extent, an intellectual celebrity, [29] being published often in the French- and English-speaking popular press. He nonetheless continued supporting the Institut de Recherche sur l'Innovation Sociale at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and was Satrap at the Collège de Pataphysique. Baudrillard taught at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, [30] and collaborated at the Canadian theory, culture, and technology review Ctheory , where he was abundantly cited. He also participated in the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies from its inception in 2004 until his death. [31] In 1999–2000, his photographs were exhibited at the Maison européenne de la photographie in Paris. [32] In 2004, Baudrillard attended the major conference on his work, "Baudrillard and the Arts", at the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe in Karlsruhe, Germany. [26]

Personal life

Grave of Jean Baudrillard with flowers and vines planted and growing over it in Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France. Grave of Jean BAUDRILLARD in Montparnasse Cemetery.jpg
Grave of Jean Baudrillard with flowers and vines planted and growing over it in Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France.

Baudrillard enjoyed baroque music; a favorite composer was Claudio Monteverdi. He also favored rock music such as The Velvet Underground & Nico . [33]

Baudrillard was married twice. He and his first wife Lucile Baudrillard had two children, Gilles and Anne. [34] [35] [36] [ circular reference ]

In 1970 during his first marriage, Baudrillard met 25 year old Marine Dupuis when she arrived at the Paris Nanterre University where he was a professor. Marine went on to be a media artistic director. They married in 1994 when he was 65. [37] [33]

Diagnosed with cancer in 2005, Baudrillard battled the disease two years from his apartment on Rue Sainte-Beuve, Paris, dying at the age of 77. [34] [33] Marine Baudrillard curates Cool Memories, an association of Jean Baudrillard's friends.

Key concepts

Baudrillard's published work emerged as part of a generation of French thinkers including: Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan who all shared an interest in semiotics, and he is often seen as a part of the post-structuralist philosophical school. [38] In common with many post-structuralists, his arguments consistently draw upon the notion that signification and meaning are both only understandable in terms of how particular words or "signs" interrelate. Baudrillard thought, as do many post-structuralists, that meaning is brought about through systems of signs working together. Following on from the structuralist linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, Baudrillard argued that meaning (value) is created through difference—through what something is not (so "dog" means "dog" because it is not-"cat", not-"goat", not-"tree", etc.). In fact, he viewed meaning as near enough self-referential: objects, images of objects, words and signs are situated in a web of meaning; one object's meaning is only understandable through its relation to the meaning of other objects; for instance, one thing's prestige relates to another's mundanity.

From this starting point Baudrillard theorized broadly about human society based upon this kind of self-referentiality. His writing portrays societies always searching for a sense of meaning—or a "total" understanding of the world—that remains consistently elusive. In contrast to Post-structuralism (such as Michel Foucault), for whom the formations of knowledge emerge only as the result of relations of power, Baudrillard developed theories in which the excessive, fruitless search for total knowledge leads almost inevitably to a kind of delusion. In Baudrillard's view, the (human) subject may try to understand the (non-human) object, but because the object can only be understood according to what it signifies (and because the process of signification immediately involves a web of other signs from which it is distinguished) this never produces the desired results. The subject is, rather, seduced (in the original Latin sense: seducere, 'to lead away') by the object. He argued therefore that, in the final analysis, a complete understanding of the minutiae of human life is impossible, and when people are seduced into thinking otherwise they become drawn toward a "simulated" version of reality, or, to use one of his neologisms, a state of "hyperreality." This is not to say that the world becomes unreal, but rather that the faster and more comprehensively societies begin to bring reality together into one supposedly coherent picture, the more insecure and unstable it looks and the more fearful societies become. [39] Reality, in this sense, "dies out." [40]

Accordingly, Baudrillard argued that the excess of signs and of meaning in late 20th century "global" society had caused (quite paradoxically) an effacement of reality. In this world neither liberal nor Marxist utopias are any longer believed in. We live, he argued, not in a "global village", to use Marshall McLuhan's phrase, but rather in a world that is ever more easily petrified by even the smallest event. Because the "global" world operates at the level of the exchange of signs and commodities, it becomes ever more blind to symbolic acts such as, for example, terrorism. In Baudrillard's work the symbolic realm (which he develops a perspective on through the anthropological work of Marcel Mauss and Georges Bataille) is seen as quite distinct from that of signs and signification. Signs can be exchanged like commodities; symbols, on the other hand, operate quite differently: they are exchanged, like gifts, sometimes violently as a form of potlatch. Baudrillard, particularly in his later work, saw the "global" society as without this "symbolic" element, and therefore symbolically (if not militarily) defenseless against acts such as the Rushdie Fatwa [41] or, indeed, the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States and its military and economic establishment.

The object value system

In his early books, such as The System of Objects , For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, and The Consumer Society  [ fr ], Baudrillard's main focus is upon consumerism, and how different objects are consumed in different ways. At this time Baudrillard's political outlook was loosely associated with Marxism (and Situationism), but in these books he differed from Karl Marx in one significant way. For Baudrillard, as for the situationists, it was consumption rather than production that was the main driver of capitalist society.

Baudrillard came to this conclusion by criticising Marx's concept of "use-value." Baudrillard thought that both Marx's and Adam Smith's economic thought accepted the idea of genuine needs relating to genuine uses too easily and too simply. Baudrillard argued, drawing from Georges Bataille, that needs are constructed, rather than innate. He stressed that all purchases, because they always signify something socially, have their fetishistic side. Objects always, drawing from Roland Barthes, "say something" about their users. And this was, for him, why consumption was and remains more important than production: because the "ideological genesis of needs" precedes the production of goods to meet those needs. [42] :63

He wrote that there are four ways of an object obtaining value. The four value-making processes are: [42]

  1. The functional value: an object's instrumental purpose (use value). Example: a pen writes; a refrigerator cools.
  2. The exchange value: an object's economic value. Example: One pen may be worth three pencils, while one refrigerator may be worth the salary earned by three months of work.
  3. The symbolic value: an object's value assigned by a subject in relation to another subject (i.e., between a giver and receiver). Example: a pen might symbolize a student's school graduation gift or a commencement speaker's gift; or a diamond may be a symbol of publicly declared marital love.
  4. The sign value: an object's value within a system of objects. Example: a particular pen may, while having no added functional benefit, signify prestige relative to another pen; a diamond ring may have no function at all, but may suggest particular social values, such as taste or class.

Baudrillard's earlier books were attempts to argue that the first two of these values are not simply associated, but are disrupted by the third and, particularly, the fourth. Later, Baudrillard rejected Marxism totally ( The Mirror of Production and Symbolic Exchange and Death).[ citation needed ] But the focus on the difference between sign value (which relates to commodity exchange) and symbolic value (which relates to Maussian gift exchange) remained in his work up until his death. Indeed, it came to play a more and more important role, particularly in his writings on world events.

Simulacra and Simulation

As Baudrillard developed his work throughout the 1980s, he moved from economic theory to mediation and mass communication. Although retaining his interest in Saussurean semiotics and the logic of symbolic exchange (as influenced by anthropologist Marcel Mauss), Baudrillard turned his attention to the work of Marshall McLuhan, developing ideas about how the nature of social relations is determined by the forms of communication that a society employs. In so doing, Baudrillard progressed beyond both Saussure's and Roland Barthes's formal semiology to consider the implications of a historically understood version of structural semiology. According to Kornelije Kvas, "Baudrillard rejects the structuralist principle of the equivalence of different forms of linguistic organization, the binary principle that contains oppositions such as: true-false, real-unreal, center-periphery. He denies any possibility of a (mimetic) duplication of reality; reality mediated through language becomes a game of signs. In his theoretical system all distinctions between the real and the fictional, between a copy and the original, disappear". [43]

Simulation, Baudrillard claims, is the current stage of the simulacrum: all is composed of references with no referents, a hyperreality. [44] Baudrillard argues that this is part of a historical progression. In the Renaissance, the dominant simulacrum was in the form of the counterfeit, where people or objects appear to stand for a real referent that does not exist (for instance, royalty, nobility, holiness, etc.). With the Industrial Revolution, the dominant simulacrum becomes the product, which can be propagated on an endless production line. In current times, the dominant simulacrum is the model, which by its nature already stands for endless reproducibility, and is itself already reproduced.

The end of history and meaning

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, one of Baudrillard's most common themes was historicity, or, more specifically, how present-day societies utilise the notions of progress and modernity in their political choices. He argued, much like the political theorist Francis Fukuyama, that history had ended or "vanished" with the spread of globalization; but, unlike Fukuyama, Baudrillard averred that this end should not be understood as the culmination of history's progress, [45] but as the collapse of the very idea of historical progress. For Baudrillard, the end of the Cold War did not represent an ideological victory; rather, it signaled the disappearance of utopian visions shared between both the political Right and Left. Giving further evidence of his opposition toward Marxist visions of global communism and liberal visions of global civil society, Baudrillard contended that the ends they hoped for had always been illusions; indeed, as The Illusion of the End argues, he thought the idea of an end itself was nothing more than a misguided dream:

The end of history is, alas, also the end of the dustbins of history. There are no longer any dustbins for disposing of old ideologies, old regimes, old values. Where are we going to throw Marxism, which actually invented the dustbins of history? (Yet there is some justice here since the very people who invented them have fallen in.) Conclusion: if there are no more dustbins of history, this is because History itself has become a dustbin. It has become its own dustbin, just as the planet itself is becoming its own dustbin. [46]

Within a society subject to and ruled by fast-paced electronic communication and global information networks the collapse of this façade was always going to be, he thought, inevitable. Employing a quasi-scientific vocabulary that attracted the ire of the physicist Alan Sokal, Baudrillard wrote that the speed society moved at had destabilized the linearity of history: "we have the particle accelerator that has smashed the referential orbit of things once and for all." [47]

In making this argument Baudrillard found some affinity with the postmodern philosophy of Jean-François Lyotard, who argued that in the late 20th century there was no longer any room for "metanarratives." (The triumph of a coming communism being one such metanarrative.) But, in addition to simply lamenting this collapse of history, Baudrillard also went beyond Lyotard and attempted to analyse how the idea of positive progress was being employed in spite of the notion's declining validity. Baudrillard argued that although genuine belief in a universal endpoint of history, wherein all conflicts would find their resolution, had been deemed redundant, universality was still a notion utilised in world politics as an excuse for actions. Universal values which, according to him, no one any longer believed universal were and are still rhetorically employed to justify otherwise unjustifiable choices. The means, he wrote, are there even though the ends are no longer believed in, and are employed in order to hide the present's harsh realities (or, as he would have put it, unrealities). "In the Enlightenment, universalization was viewed as unlimited growth and forward progress. Today, by contrast, universalization is expressed as a forward escape." [48] This involves the notion of "escape velocity" as outlined in The Vital Illusion (2000), which in turn, results in the postmodern fallacy of escape velocity on which the postmodern mind and critical view cannot, by definition, ever truly break free from the all-encompassing "self-referential" sphere of discourse.

Political commentary

On the Bosnian War

Baudrillard reacted to the West's indifference to the Bosnian War in writings, mostly in essays in his column for Libération . More specifically, he expressed his view on Europe's unwillingness to respond to "aggression and genocide in Bosnia," in which "New Europe" revealed itself to be a "sham." He criticized the Western media and intellectuals for their passivity, and for taking the role of bystanders, engaging in ineffective, hypocritical and self-serving action, and the public for its inability to distinguish simulacra from real world happenings, in which real death and destruction in Bosnia seemed unreal. He was determined in his columns to openly name the perpetrators, Serbs, and call their actions in Bosnia aggression and genocide. [49]

On the Persian Gulf War

Baudrillard's provocative 1991 book, The Gulf War Did Not Take Place , [50] raised his public profile as an academic and political commentator. He argued that the first Gulf War was the inverse of the Clausewitzian formula: not "the continuation of politics by other means," but "the continuation of the absence of politics by other means." Accordingly, Saddam Hussein was not fighting the Coalition, but using the lives of his soldiers as a form of sacrifice to preserve his power. [50] :72 The Coalition fighting the Iraqi military was merely dropping 10,000 tonnes of bombs daily, as if proving to themselves that there was an enemy to fight. [50] :61 So, too, were the Western media complicit, presenting the war in real time, by recycling images of war to propagate the notion that the U.S.-led Coalition and the Iraqi government were actually fighting, but, such was not the case. Saddam Hussein did not use his military capacity (the Iraqi Air Force). His power was not weakened, evinced by his easy suppression of the 1991 internal uprisings that followed afterwards. Over all, little had changed. Saddam remained undefeated, the "victors" were not victorious, and thus there was no war—i.e., the Gulf War did not occur.

The book was originally a series of articles in the British newspaper The Guardian and the French newspaper Libération , published in three parts: "The Gulf War Will Not Take Place," published during the American military and rhetorical buildup; "The Gulf War Is Not Taking Place," published during military action; and "The Gulf War Did Not Take Place" published afterwards.

Some critics[ who? ] accused Baudrillard of instant revisionism; a denial of the physical action of the conflict (which was related to his denial of reality in general[ citation needed ]). Consequently, Baudrillard was accused of lazy amoralism, cynical scepticism, and Berkelian subjective idealism. Sympathetic commentators such as William Merrin, in his book Baudrillard and the Media, have argued that Baudrillard was more concerned with the West's technological and political dominance and the globalization of its commercial interests, and what that means for the present possibility of war. Merrin argued that Baudrillard was not denying that something had happened, but merely questioning whether that something was in fact war or a bilateral "atrocity masquerading as a war." Merrin viewed the accusations of amorality as redundant and based on a misreading. In Baudrillard's own words: [50] :71–2

Saddam liquidates the communists, Moscow flirts even more with him; he gases the Kurds, it is not held against him; he eliminates the religious cadres, the whole of Islam makes peace with him.… Even…the 100,000 dead will only have been the final decoy that Saddam will have sacrificed, the blood money paid in forfeit according to a calculated equivalence, in order to preserve his power. What is worse is that these dead still serve as an alibi for those who do not want to have been excited for nothing: at least these dead will prove this war was indeed a war and not shameful and pointless.

On the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001

In contrast to the "non-event" of the Gulf War, in his essay "The Spirit of Terrorism" [51] Baudrillard characterises the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City as the "absolute event". Seeking to understand them as a reaction to the technological and political expansion of capitalist globalization, rather than as a war of religiously based or civilization-based warfare, he described the absolute event and its consequences as follows:

This is not a clash of civilisations or religions, and it reaches far beyond Islam and America, on which efforts are being made to focus the conflict in order to create the delusion of a visible confrontation and a solution based upon force. There is indeed a fundamental antagonism here, but one that points past the spectre of America (which is perhaps the epicentre, but in no sense the sole embodiment, of globalisation) and the spectre of Islam (which is not the embodiment of terrorism either) to triumphant globalisation battling against itself. [51]

In accordance with his theory of society, Baudrillard portrayed the attacks as a symbolic reaction to the inexorable rise of a world based on commodity exchange. This stance was criticised on two counts. Richard Wolin (in The Seduction of Unreason) forcefully accused Baudrillard and Slavoj Žižek of all but celebrating the terrorist attacks, essentially claiming that the United States received what it deserved. Žižek, however, countered that accusation to Wolin's analysis as a form of intellectual barbarism in the journal Critical Inquiry , saying that Wolin failed to see the difference between fantasising about an event and stating that one is deserving of that event. Merrin (in Baudrillard and the Media) argued that Baudrillard's position affords the terrorists a type of moral superiority. In the journal Economy and Society , Merrin further noted that Baudrillard gives the symbolic facets of society unfair privilege above semiotic concerns. Second, authors questioned whether the attacks were unavoidable. Bruno Latour, in Critical Inquiry, argued that Baudrillard believed that their destruction was forced by the society that created them, alluding to the notion that the Towers were "brought down by their own weight." In Latour's view, this was because Baudrillard conceived only of society in terms of a symbolic and semiotic dualism. [52]

The Agony of Power

During 2005, Baudrillard wrote three short pieces and gave a brief magazine interview, all treating similar ideas; following his death in 2007, the four pieces were collected and published posthumously as The Agony of Power, a polemic against power itself. [53] The first piece, "From Domination to Hegemony", contrasts its two subjects, modes of power; domination stands for historical, traditional power relations, while hegemony stands for modern, more sophisticated power relations as realized by states and businesses. Baudrillard decried the "cynicism" with which contemporary businesses openly state their business models. For example, he cited French television channel TF1 executive Patrick Le Lay who stated that his business' job was "to help Coca-Cola sell its products." [53] :37 Baudrillard lamented that such honesty pre-empted and thus robbed the Left of its traditional role of critiquing governments and businesses: "In fact, Le Lay takes away the only power we had left. He steals our denunciation." [53] :38–9 Consequently, Baudrillard stated that "power itself must be abolished—and not solely in the refusal to be dominated…but also, just as violently, in the refusal to dominate." [53] :47

The latter pieces included further analysis of the September 11 terrorist attacks, using the metaphor of the Native American potlatch to describe both American and Muslim societies, specifically the American state versus the hijackers. In the pieces' context, "potlatch" referred not to the gift-giving aspect of the ritual, but rather its wealth-destroying aspect: "The terrorists' potlatch against the West is their own death. Our potlatch is indignity, immodesty, obscenity, degradation and abjection." [53] :67 This criticism of the West carried notes of Baudrillard's simulacrum, the above cynicism of business, and contrast between Muslim and Western societies: [53] :67–8

We [the West] throw this indifference and abjection at others like a challenge: the challenge to defile themselves in return, to deny their values, to strip naked, confess, admit—to respond to a nihilism equal to our own.


One of Baudrillard's editors, Mark Poster, was among a number of academics who argued for his contemporary relevance; he remarked: [54] :8

Baudrillard's writing up to the mid-1980s is open to several criticisms. He fails to define key terms, such as the code; his writing style is hyperbolic and declarative, often lacking sustained, systematic analysis when it is appropriate; he totalizes his insights, refusing to qualify or delimit his claims. He writes about particular experiences, television images, as if nothing else in society mattered, extrapolating a bleak view of the world from that limited base. He ignores contradictory evidence such as the many benefits afforded by the new media 

Poster also attempted to refute the most extreme of Baudrillard's critics, the likes of Alan Sokal and Christopher Norris who see him as a purveyor of a form of reality-denying irrationalism: [54] :7

Baudrillard is not disputing the trivial issue that reason remains operative in some actions, that if I want to arrive at the next block, for example, I can assume a Newtonian universe (common sense), plan a course of action (to walk straight for X meters), carry out the action, and finally fulfill my goal by arriving at the point in question. What is in doubt is that this sort of thinking enables a historically informed grasp of the present in general. According to Baudrillard, it does not. The concurrent spread of the hyperreal through the media and the collapse of liberal and Marxist politics as the master narratives, deprives the rational subject of its privileged access to truth. In an important sense individuals are no longer citizens, eager to maximise their civil rights, nor proletarians, anticipating the onset of communism. They are rather consumers, and hence the prey of objects as defined by the code.

Only one of the two major confrontational books on Baudrillard's thought—Christopher Norris's Uncritical Theory: Postmodernism, Intellectuals and the Gulf War [55] —seeks to reject his media theory and position on "the real" out of hand. The other—postmodern theorist Douglas Kellner's Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond [56] —seeks rather to analyse Baudrillard's relation to postmodernism (a concept with which Baudrillard has had a continued, if uneasy and rarely explicit, relationship) and to present a Marxist counter. Regarding the former, William Merrin (discussed above) published more than one denunciation of Norris' position. The latter Baudrillard himself characterised as reductive. [57]

Douglas Kellner commented that Baudrillard's views were 'ultra-leftist' in his writing of Symbolic Exchange and Death. [17] Baudrillard later admitted that his views could be classified as right-wing "in objective terms", but found the Left–right political spectrum arbitrary. [21]

Native American (Anishinaabe) writer Gerald Vizenor, who has made extensive use of Baudrillard's concepts of simulation in his critical work. [58] [ clarification needed ]

The Wachowskis said that Baudrillard influenced The Matrix (1999), and Neo hides money and disks containing information in Simulacra and Simulation. One critic wondered whether Baudrillard, who had not embraced the movie, was "thinking of suing for a screen credit," [59] but Baudrillard himself disclaimed any connection to The Matrix, calling it at best a misreading of his ideas. [60] [61] [62]

Some reviewers have noted that Charlie Kaufman's film Synecdoche, New York seems inspired by Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation. [63] [64] [65]

Album Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? by rock band Deerhunter was purportedly influenced by Baudrillard's essay of the same name. [66] [67] [68]


Books (English translations)

  • 1968. The System of Objects
  • 1970. The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures  [ fr ]
  • 1972. For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign
  • 1973. The Mirror of Production
  • 1976. Symbolic Exchange and Death
  • 1977. Forget Foucault
  • 1979. Seduction
  • 1981. Simulacra and Simulation
  • 1982. In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities
  • 1983. Fatal Strategies
  • 1983. Simulations
  • 1986. America
  • 1987. Cool Memories 1980-1985
  • 1987. The Ecstasy of Communication
  • 1990. The Transparency of Evil
  • 1991. The Gulf War Did Not Take Place
  • 1992. The Illusion of the End
  • 1995. The Perfect Crime
  • 1996. Cool Memories II 1987-1990
  • 1997. Fragments: Cool Memories III 1990-1995
  • 1998. Paroxysm: Interviews with Philippe Petit
  • 1999. Impossible Exchange
  • 2000. Passwords
  • 2000. The Singular Objects of Architecture
  • 2000. The Vital Illusion
  • 2002. The Spirit of Terrorism And Requiem for the Twin Towers
  • 2003. Fragments (Interviews with François L'Yvonnet)
  • 2003. Cool Memories IV 1995-2000
  • 2005. The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact
  • 2005. The Conspiracy of Art
  • 2006. Utopia Deferred: Writings for Utopie (1967–1978)
  • 2006. Cool Memories V 2000-2004
  • 2007. Exiles from Dialogue
  • 2008. Radical Alterity
  • 2009. Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?
  • 2010. Carnival and Cannibal, or the Play of Global Antagonisms
  • 2010. The Agony of Power
  • 2011. Telemorphosis
  • 2014. Screened Out
  • 2014. The Divine Left: A Chronicle of the Years 1977–1984

Articles and essays


Audio CDs

See also

Related Research Articles

Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourse defined by an attitude of skepticism toward what it considers as the grand narratives of modernism, as well as opposition to epistemic certainty and the stability of meaning. Claims to objective fact are dismissed as naive realism. Postmodernism is characterized by self-referentiality, epistemological relativism, moral relativism, pluralism, irony, irreverence, and eclecticism; it rejects the "universal validity" of binary oppositions, stable identity, hierarchy, and categorization.

Post-structuralism is a term for philosophical and literary forms of theory that both build upon and reject ideas established by structuralism, the intellectual project that preceded it. Though post-structuralists all present different critiques of structuralism, common themes among them include the rejection of the self-sufficiency of structuralism, as well as an interrogation of the binary oppositions that constitute its structures. Accordingly, post-structuralism discards the idea of interpreting media within pre-established, socially constructed structures.

Structuralism Theory that elements of human culture must be understood in terms of their relationship to a larger, overarching system or structure

In sociology, anthropology, archaeology, history, philosophy, and linguistics, structuralism is a general theory of culture and methodology that implies that elements of human culture must be understood by way of their relationship to a broader system. It works to uncover the structures that underlie all the things that humans do, think, perceive, and feel.

Postmodernity is the economic or cultural state or condition of society which is said to exist after modernity. Some schools of thought hold that modernity ended in the late 20th century – in the 1980s or early 1990s – and that it was replaced by postmodernity, and still others would extend modernity to cover the developments denoted by postmodernity. The idea of the postmodern condition is sometimes characterized as a culture stripped of its capacity to function in any linear or autonomous state like regressive isolationism, as opposed to the progressive mind state of modernism.

Proposed by Jean Baudrillard, the concept of hyperreality captures the inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality. This is more prominent in technologically advanced societies. Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. It allows the co-mingling of physical reality with virtual reality (VR) and human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI).

<i>The Gulf War Did Not Take Place</i> Collected essays by Jean Baudrillard

The Gulf War Did Not Take Place is a collection of three short essays by Jean Baudrillard published in the French newspaper Libération and British paper The Guardian between January and March 1991.

<i>Simulacra and Simulation</i> 1981 book by Jean Baudrillard

Simulacra and Simulation is a 1981 philosophical treatise by the philosopher and cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard, in which the author seeks to examine the relationships between reality, symbols, and society, in particular the significations and symbolism of culture and media involved in constructing an understanding of shared existence.

French philosophy, here taken to mean philosophy in the French language, has been extremely diverse and has influenced Western philosophy as a whole for centuries, from the medieval scholasticism of Peter Abelard, through the founding of modern philosophy by René Descartes, to 20th century philosophy of science, existentialism, phenomenology, structuralism, and postmodernism.

Part of the three order simulacra, the second-order simulacra, a term coined by Jean Baudrillard, are symbols of a non faithful representation to the original. Here, signs and images do not faithfully show us reality, but might hint at the existence of something real which the sign itself is incapable of encapsulating.

Denis Peterson is an American hyperrealist painter whose photorealist works have been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Butler Institute of American Art, Tate Modern, Springville Museum of Art, Corcoran MPA, Museum of Modern Art CZ and Max Hutchinson Gallery in New York.

Hyperrealism (visual arts) Genre of painting

Hyperrealism is a genre of painting and sculpture resembling a high-resolution photograph. Hyperrealism is considered an advancement of Photorealism by the methods used to create the resulting paintings or sculptures. The term is primarily applied to an independent art movement and art style in the United States and Europe that has developed since the early 1970s. Carole Feuerman is the forerunner in the hyperrealism movement along with Duane Hanson and John De Andrea.

Historicity in philosophy is the idea or fact that something has a historical origin and developed through history: concepts, practices, values. This is opposed to the belief that the same thing, in particular normative institutions or correlated ideologies, is natural or essential and thus exists universally.

Douglas Kellner American academic (born May 31, 1943)

Douglas Kellner is an American academic who works at the intersection of "third-generation" critical theory in the tradition of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, or Frankfurt School, and in cultural studies in the tradition of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, or the "Birmingham School". He has argued that these two conflicting philosophies are in fact compatible. He is currently the George Kneller Chair in the Philosophy of Education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

A simulacrum is a representation or imitation of a person or thing. The word was first recorded in the English language in the late 16th century, used to describe a representation, such as a statue or a painting, especially of a god. By the late 19th century, it had gathered a secondary association of inferiority: an image without the substance or qualities of the original. Literary critic Fredric Jameson offers photorealism as an example of artistic simulacrum, in which a painting is created by copying a photograph that is itself a copy of the real thing. Other art forms that play with simulacra include trompe-l'œil, pop art, Italian neorealism, and French New Wave.

Sylvère Lotringer French literary critic

Sylvère Lotringer was a French born literary critic and cultural theorist. Initially based in New York City, he later lived in Los Angeles and Baja California, Mexico. He is best known for synthesizing French theory with American literary, cultural and architectural avant-garde movements as founder of the journal Semiotext(e) and for his interpretations of theory in a 21st-century context. He is regarded as an influential interpreter of Jean Baudrillard's theories, among others.

<i>Welcome to the Desert of the Real</i> 2002 philosophy book by Slavoj Žižek

Welcome to the Desert of the Real is a 2002 book by Slavoj Žižek. A Marxist and Lacanian analysis of the ideological and political responses to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Zizek's study incorporates various psychoanalytic, postmodernist, biopolitical, and (Christian) universalist influences into a Marxist dialectical framework.

Richard G. Smith is a British geographer. His research focuses on the philosophy of Jean Baudrillard, and urban studies, especially on poststructuralist cities.

<i>Libidinal Economy</i> 1974 book by Jean-François Lyotard

Libidinal Economy is a 1974 book by French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard. The book was composed following the ideological shift of the May 68 protests in France, whereupon Lyotard distanced himself from conventional critical theory and Marxism because he felt that they were still too structuralist and imposed a rigid "systematization of desires". Drastically changing his writing style and turning his attention to semiotics, theories of libido, economic history and erotica, he repurposed Freud's idea of libidinal economy as a more complex and fluid concept that he linked to political economy, and proposed multiple ideas in conjunction with it. Alongside Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's Anti-Oedipus, Libidinal Economy has been seen as an essential post-May 68 work in a time when theorists in France were radically reinterpreting psychoanalysis, and critics have argued that the book is free of moral or political orientation. Lyotard subsequently abandoned its ideas and views, later describing it as his "evil book".

<i>In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities</i>

In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities, Or, the End of the Social is a 1978 philosophical treatise by Jean Baudrillard, in which he analyzes the masses and their relation to meaning. Baudrillard praises the masses for their resistance to the mass media and 'the social', for their "direct defiance of the political" and for "victoriously resist[ing] the media by diverting or absorbing all the messages which it produces without responding to them".



^  a: : Baudrillard: "The matter is complicated further by the play of terminology. Neither seduction nor love being precise notions (they have no place in the great conceptual systems, nor in psychoanalysis), they caneasily switch or be confused. So if one takes seduction to be a challenge, a game where the bets are never down, an uninterrupted ritual exchange, an infinite escalation of the ante, a secret complicity, etc., one can always answer: "But so defined, wouldn’t seduction be simply love?"... "We can even invert the relation and make love something more decisive, more challenging than seduction." [69]


  1. Stephen Baker, The Fiction of Postmodernity, Rowman & Littlefield, 2000, p. 64.
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  6. Revenge of the Crystal: An Interview with Jean Baudrillard by Guy Bellavance, page 22, 34
  7. Ibid, Page 22
  8. Forget Foucault, page 71
  9. Fatal Strategies page 32-35 SEMIOTEXT(E) FOREIGN AGENTS SERIES Originally published in 1983 as Les Strategiesfatales by Editions Grasset, Paris. ISBN   978-1-58435-061-3
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  12. The Intelligence of Evil page 159, 166, 189
  13. The Ecstasy of Communication
  14. Fatal Strategies ISBN-13: 978-1-58435-061-3 Translated by Philippe Beitchman and W. G. J. Niesluchowski Originally published in 1983 as Les Strategies fatales by Editions Grasset, Paris. pg 27-28, 94-95
  15. "The Political Destiny Of Seduction, "Seduction", translated by Brian Singer, page 144, New World Perspectives, CultureTexts Series, ISBN 0-920393-25-X
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  19. Aylesworth, Gary. 2015."Postmodernism." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy , edited by E. N. Zalta. Retrieved 1 January 2020. The French, for example, work with concepts developed during the structuralist revolution in Paris in the 1950s and early 1960s, including structuralist readings of Marx and Freud. For this reason they are often called “poststructuralists.” They also cite the events of May 1968 as a watershed moment for modern thought and its institutions, especially the universities.
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  21. 1 2 S(t)imulacrum(b) ( A radical defense of structuralism against poststructuralism, although worded as a radical defense of "fatality" (i.e. destiny) against "chance" and "randomness." Rather than accepting the view of meaning/order as something imposed on disorder by the discourse of rationality, Baudrillard defends precisely the reverse; disorder is imposed upon order by the discourse of innocence (if everything is left up to chance, we escape human responsibility for social situations).
  22. "The art of disappearing – BAUDRILLARD NOW". 22 January 2021. Archived from the original on 22 January 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2022. "[ Transmodernism etc] are better terms than “postmodernism”. It is not about modernity; it is about every system that has developed its mode of expression to the extent that it surpasses itself and its own logic. This is what I am trying to analyze." "There is no longer any ontologically secret substance. I perceive this to be nihilism rather than postmodernism. To me, nihilism is a good thing – I am a nihilist, not a postmodernist."
  23. 1 2 L'Yvonnet (2004), p. 317.
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  25. In 1948, he completed his diplôme d'études supérieures  [ fr ] (roughly equivalent to an MA thesis) on Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Luther (see Journées Jean Baudrillard Musée du quai Branly Paris 17-18/09/2010).
  26. 1 2 3 L'Yvonnet (2004), pp. 317–328.
  27. Chris Turner's introduction to The Intelligence of Evil, Berg (2005), p. 2.
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  29. cf. Barry Sandywell's article "Forget Baudrillard", in Theory, Culture and Society (1995, issue 12)
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  32. L'Yvonnet (2004), p. 319.
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  39. see here Baudrillard's final major publication in English, The Intelligence of Evil, where he discussed the political fallout of what he calls "Integral Reality"
  40. Baudrillard, Jean. 1985. The Perfect Crime. London: Verso Books.
  41. see here The Transparency of Evil, Verso (1993)
  42. 1 2 Baudrillard, Jean. 1983. For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign. London: Verso Books. ISBN   9781788734844.
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  47. The Illusion of the End, p. 2.
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