[URBANTH-L]NEWS: Noted French philosopher Jean Baudrillard dies

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Tue Mar 6 17:50:27 EST 2007

Noted French philosopher Jean Baudrillard dies
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 
all events."

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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