Miscellaneous Notes II: Baudrillard

[All images from another trash video I did >.>]

In Ecstasy and Inertia, Baudrillard contests the usefulness of dialectics (the sublation of opposites) in a hyperreal world. He argues that we must instead understand the world through ecstacy and inertia; the reversibility of opposites contained within a singular, empty form.

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Baudrillard begins with a new conception of being. Rather than cancel out when met with its opposite, being proliferates towards obscenity–a pointless multiplication of itself, an increase in power, which in doing so, captures all the energy of its opposite, and thus becomes ecstatic (25-27). [For example, Baudrillard (27) defines simulation as the true transparent with all the energy of the false.] This ecstasy arises not out of any particular quality of the object being multiplied, but rather, through multiplication, the process of obscenity itself (27). The object becomes more real than itself, and thus disappears, leaving an over-abundance of signifiers that point only at themselves, and no longer at any referent.

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The irony of such an ontology is that the desire to proliferate and compete with other forms is to be seduced/seduce into disappearance (28-29). It is to reach for a vertiginous high that is inevitably empty and fleeting. The end point of proliferation and ecstasy then, is inertia and banality (30). To become obscene, more visible than the visible, is to become ubiquitous, and therefore, invisible once more (30).

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Being then, is constantly meeting what Baudrillard (33) calls its ‘dead point,’ the limit of reversibility that delivers it into ecstasy and inertia–into simulation. Baudrillard (34) additionally adds that once in simulation, we will no longer be able to tell when we entered it; to try and discover our point of entry would be to simply simulate a real no longer there, and therefore, to exacerbate hyperreality.

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The pure event of ecstasy can have any cause assigned to it, precisely because it has neither an origin nor a destination except its own dead point (34, 36). Ideology as the true transparent with all the energy of the false; conspiracy as the false transparent with all the energy of the true; meaninglessness arising out of an explosion of meaning—hypermeaning—an overabundance that effaces its own purpose in grounding existence, making obscene every and any existence that proposes to be meaningful.

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Because a thing’s opposite can no longer be used to contest its existence, Baudrillard proposes that its extreme must be deployed, that obscenity of the thing itself must be used to cast it into banality, and therefore, irrelevancy (25-26). The pure event then, can only be be met with the catastrophe (36). The overdeterminism of hyperreality is met by an empty form, which never carried the pretensions of meaning to begin with (Baudrillard 2008, 15, 30). More empty than the empty, this is how meaninglessness is fought against; a reintroduction of the unspeakable, to give language a place once more.

Baudrillard, J. (2008). Ecstasy and Inertia In: Fatal Strategies. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e). Pp.25-43.


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