[URBANTH-L]NEWS: Noted French philosopher Jean Baudrillard dies
jancius at ohio.edu
Tue Mar 6 17:50:27 EST 2007
Noted French philosopher Jean Baudrillard dies
By ASSOCIATED PRESS, PARIS
March 6, 2007
French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, a social theorist known for his acerbic
commentaries on consumerism and excess, died Tuesday, his publishing house
said. He was 77.
Baudrillard died at his home in Paris, said Michel Delorme of the Galilee
publishing house. He died after a "long illness," Delorme said, a term that
in France most often means cancer.
The two men had worked together since 1977, when "Oublier Foucault" (Forget
Foucault), one of some 20 books written by Baudrillard, was published,
Delorme said by telephone.
The last book published by Baudrillard was "Cool Memories V," in 2005.
Baudrillard, a sociologist by training, is perhaps best known for his
concepts of "hyperreality" and "simulation."
Baudrillard advocated the idea that spectacle is crucial in creating our
view of events - what he termed "hyperreality." Things do not happen if they
are not seen to happen.
He gained fame, and notoriety, in the English-speaking world for his 1991
book "The Gulf War Did Not Take Place." In the first Gulf War, he claimed,
nothing was as it appeared.
The public's - and even the military's - view of the conflict came largely
through television images; Saddam Hussein was not defeated; the U.S.-led
coalition scarcely battled the Iraqi military and did not really win, since
little was changed politically in Iraq after all the carnage. All the sound
and fury signified little, he argued.
The Sept. 11 attacks, in contrast, were the hyper-real event par
excellence - a fusion of history, symbolism and dark fantasy, "the mother of
His views on the attacks sparked controversy. While terrorists had committed
the atrocity, he wrote, "It is we who have wanted it. . . . Terrorism is
immoral, and it responds to a globalization that is itself immoral."
Although many Americans were puzzled by his views, Baudrillard was a
tireless enthusiast for the United States - though he once called it "the
only remaining primitive society."
"Santa Barbara is a paradise; Disneyland is a paradise; the U.S. is a
paradise," he wrote. "Paradise is just paradise. Mournful, monotonous, and
superficial though it may be, it is paradise. There is no other."
French Education Minister Gilles de Robien said "We lose a great creator."
"Jean Baudrillard was one of the great figures of French sociological
Born west of Paris in Reims on June 20, 1929, Baudrillard, the son of civil
servants, began a long teaching career instructing high school students in
German. After receiving a doctorate in sociology, he taught at the
University of Paris in Nanterre.
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