Becoming a Baudrillartist

by phil on Thursday Dec 18, 2003 11:53 PM

Put aside my “finding my voice / be yourself” bent I’ve been on lately.

I want to write like Baudrillard.

Read his article on Global Debt and Parallel Universes.

More importantly, I think I need to observe like Baudrillard.

Baudrillard, walking through Time Square observed an electronic billboard displaying a skyrocketing public debt counter for the US, rising $20,000/sec.

He then connected ....

He then connected this to the idea of a ghostly superstructure that lived in a parallel universe that we created. This rising counter represented an inflating largesse that had detached itself from the real world. Almost like a satellite ejected from the world, orbiting the Earth without a fixed location.

And that this largesse, like the largesse of nuclear stockpiles, is what’s keeping us alive. American public debt has been the foundation of our country since Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury made it policy. Likewise, the 50,000 nukes lying around the world keep us safe in this mutual deterrence.

But how did he connect these ideas? How did he see this billboard and imagine the phantom he would so eloquently describe?

He must have looked at it, and felt, “this is fucked up” and then asked himself, “why is this fucked up” and inflated his curiosity with a series of questions. Is that what he does? Bring a magnifying glass to every nuance that trips him up?

Or is it the result of the wideness of his knowledge base. He has understanding in so many fields that associations just magically arise out of nowhere?

Or does he make a profession of generating novel ideas, and just try everyday. After iterating enough attempts, he gets a good hit?

Or a combination of all of the above?

Either way, this guy’s got talent. He creates images and metaphors that stick. But not just fancy metaphors. I’m guilty of committing fancy metaphor, just saying things like, needle-thin super-summaries, or that the social hierarchy is a pyramid. Baudrillard doesn’t use many metaphors, just a couple good ones plus some alien, novel analysis.

Check out his analysis of American joggers. He compares joggers to horses frothing in the mouth, except that horses have bits in their mouths while as joggers need them. And then he connects the medieval instruments of torture to the mechanical slavery in the factory to our “voluntary” submission to fancy exercise equipment.

How did he do that? Where did he get off on that? He was lying on the beach and he just saw a jogger and go, “what the hell is this?” He must’ve then investigated his nuanced pheeling, and saw a jillion connections.

Either way, I want to see like Baudrillard sees. I’m sure it’s a great cure for boredom. Every minor observation is a window into secret hiding spots for curious phenomenon. Combined with a talent for imagery, his written paintings are gems in the sea of information glut out there.

But alas, I must find my own voice. Sure. Hopefully it will be as good as Baudrillard.

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