Jean Baudrillard

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Jean Baudrillard (1929-06-20 - 2007-03-06) was a cultural theorist and philosopher. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism.


Simulations (1983)

New York:Semiotext

  • The real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is already reproduced, the hyper-real. (p. 146)

The Ecstasy of Communication (1987)

L'autre par lui-même (Paris: Éditions Galilée, 1987); trans. Bernard and Caroline Schutze, New York:Semiotext(e)

  • The need to speak, even if one has nothing to say, becomes more pressing when one has nothing to say, just as the will to live becomes more urgent when life has lost its meaning. (p. 30)
  • Picturing others and everything which brings you closer to them is futile from the instant that ‘communication’ can make their presence immediate. (p. 42)
  • The close-up of a face is as obscene as a sexual organ seen from up close. It is a sexual organ. The promiscuity of the detail, the zoom-in, takes on a sexual value. (p. 43)
  • Challenge, and not desire, lies at the heart of seduction. (p. 57)
  • Seduction is the world’s elementary dynamic… All this has changed significantly for us, at least in appearance. For what has happened to good and evil? Seduction hurls them against one another, and unites them beyond meaning, in a paroxysm [sudden outbreak of emotion] of intensity and charm. (p. 59)
  • Distinctive signs, full signs, never seduce us. (p. 59)
  • THERE IS NEVER ANYTHING TO PRO-DUCE. In spite of all its materialist efforts, production remains a utopia. We can wear ourselves out in materializing things, in rendering them visible, but we will never cancel the secret. (p. 65)
  • And so one can imagine that in amorous seduction the other is the locus of your secret — the other unknowingly holds that which you will never have the chance to know. (p. 65)
  • Take provocation, for instance, which is the opposite and the caricature of seduction. It says: "I know that you want to be seduced, and I will seduce you." Nothing could be worse than betraying this secret rule. Nothing could be less seductive than a provocative smile or inciteful behaviour, since both presuppose that one cannot be seduced naturally and that one needs to be blackmailed into it, or through a declaration of intent: "Let me seduce you" (p. 67)
  • The discourse of truth is quite simply impossible. It eludes itself. Everything eludes itself, everything scoffs at its own truth, seduction renders everything elusive. The fury to unveil the truth, to get at the naked truth, the one which haunts all discourses of interpretation, the obscene rage to uncover the secret, is proportionate to the impossibility of ever achieving this. …But this rage, this fury, only bears witness to the eternity of seduction and to the impossibility of mastering it. (p. 73)

America (1988)

Trans. Chris Turner. New York: Verso, ISBN 0-860-91978-1

  • Driving is a spectacular form of amnesia. Everything is to be discovered, everything to be obliterated. Admittedly, there is the primal shock of the deserts and the dazzle of California, but when this is gone, the secondary brilliance of the journey begins, that of the excessive, pitiless distance, the infinity of anonymous faces and distances, or of certain miraculous geological formations, which ultimately testify to no human will, while keeping intact an image of upheaval. This form of travel admits of no exceptions: when it runs up against a known face, a familiar landscape, or some decipherable message, the spell is broken: the amnesic, ascetic, asymptotic charm of disappearance succumbs to affect and worldly semiology.
    • Vanishing Point (pp. 9-10)
  • Sadder than the beggar is the man who eats alone in public.
    • New York (p. 15)

Simulacra and Simulations (1988)

From Jean Baudrillard, Selected Writings, ed, M. Poster, Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp.166-184.

  • For it is with the same imperialism that present-day simulators try to make the real, all the real, coincide with their simulation models.

Photography, or the Writing of Light (2000)

European Graduate School

  • There are only a few images that are not forced to provide meaning, or have to go through the filter of a specific idea.
  • So-called "realist" photography does not capture the "what is." Instead, it is preoccupied with what should not be, like the reality of suffering for example.
  • It is perhaps not a surprise that photography developed as a technological medium in the industrial age, when reality started to disappear. It is even perhaps the disappearance of reality that triggered this technical form. Reality found a way to mutate into an image.

The Violence of the Image (2003)

European Graduate School

  • Particularly in the case of all professional of press-images which testify of the real events. In making reality, even the most violent, emerge to the visible, it makes the real substance disappear. It is like the Myth of Eurydice : when Orpheus turns around to look at her, she vanishes and returns to hell. That is why, the more exponential the marketing of images is growing the more fantastically grows the indifference towards the real world. Finally, the real world becomes a useless function, a collection of phantom shapes and ghost events. We are not far from the silhouettes on the walls of the cave of Plato.
  • This realistic image, however, does not catch at all what really is, but what should not be - death and misery - what should not exist, from our moral and humanistic point of view. And at the same time making an aesthetic and commercial, perfectly immoral use and abuse of this misery. Images that actually testify, behind their pretended "objectivity", of a deep denial of the real, and of an equal denial of the image - assigned to present what does not even want to be represented, assigned to the rape of the real by burglary.


  • Boredom is like a pitiless zooming in on the epidermis of time. Every instant is dilated and magnified like the pores of the face.
  • For nothing can be greater than seduction itself, not even the order that destroys it.
  • Marxism is therefore only a limited petit bourgeois critique, one more step in the banalization of life toward the "good use" of the social!
  • The only thing worse than being bored is being boring.
  • One day, we shall stand up and our backsides will remain attached to our seats.
  • Today's terrorism is not the product of a traditional history of anarchism, nihilism, or fanaticism. It is instead the contemporary partner of globalization.
  • One may dream of a culture where everyone bursts into laughter when someone says: this is true, this is real. ( essay -"Radical Thought")
  • If the thought enunciates an object as a truth, it is only as a challenge to this object's own self-fulfillment. ( essay -"Radical Thought")
  • Not only does reality resist those who still criticize it, but it also abandons those who defend it. Maybe it is a way for reality to get its revenge from those who claim to believe in it for the sole purpose of eventually transforming it: sending back its supporters to their own desires. ( essay -"Radical Thought")
  • The simulacrum now hides, not the truth, but the fact that there is none, that is to say, the continuation of Nothingness.( essay -"Radical Thought")
  • Dying is nothing. You have to know how to disappear. Dying comes down to a biological chance and that is of no consequence. Disappearing is of a far higher order of necessity. You must not leave it to biology to decide when you will disappear. To disappear is to pass into an enigmatic state which is neither life nor death. Some animals know how to do this, as do savages, who withdraw while still alive, from the sight of their own people.
  • There is no aphrodisiac like innocence.

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