Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Baudrillard Abstract

Here is my abstract for the paper I will be giving at the Baudrillard workshop that is happening tomorrow at Newcastle University:
Title: International Relations of Deterrence Machines: Taking the Trivial Seriously

Abstract: Baudrillard, throughout his career, took consumption seriously and in the spirit of continuing to take consumption seriously this paper argues the discipline of International Relations (IR) now needs to consider international tourism as a body of study. My main argument is there requires an understanding of what Jean Baudrillard labels ‘deterrence machines’ in global tourism. For Baudrillard these deterrence machines do not function upon a true or false dichotomy, but rather creates a (false) reality principle of distinguishing between the real and unreal. (In)Famously Baudrillard provides the example of Disneyland, as a deterrence machine, which serves to convince people that inside Disneyland is fantasy and imaginary, while outside Disneyland, the USA, is the real. The paper extends this observation to examine how the Caribbean is produced as a deterrence machine in what Mark Poster has called ‘The Second Media Age.’ The focus is on how people, through consumption, and second media age technologies, encounter Caribbean tourism as product to create their self-identity. The result is time has moved on from Descartes’ ‘I think, therefore I am’ to Massumi’s ‘I Shop, therefore I am.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Against ID cards

Thanks for Thom for this news.

For British citizen's you can sign up to a petition against bringing in ID cards (here). Personally, I feel they are a great waste of money, and not something I want to trust to as part of the state apparatus.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Baudrillard and Simulacrum

In an interview Baudrillard reveals the strain of thinking about simulation, 'I stopped working on simulation. I felt I was going totally nuts.' I can understand why Baudrillard would say this, as I am working on an essay about Baudrillard for the workshop at Newcastle.

Here is a short section from it. i would be happy to hear comments. My main purpose is to try and make Baudrillard into a (sort of) Deleuzian, which should hopefully remove the perverse platonism in Baudrillard:

In Merrin’s assessment, the majority of Baudrillard’s commentators have simplistically critiqued, and misunderstood, the concept of the simulacrum (see Best and Keller, 1991). For Merrin they fail to grasp that Baudrillard adopts a critical stance towards the simulacra, which privileges the symbolic. This means to challenge Baudrillard ‘we must oppose him not with the real but with the simulacrum, not rejecting but accepting, employing and escalating its force to challenge his work’ (Merrin, 2005: p30).
One of the few works I have found attempting to turn Baudrillard against himself is a short essay by Brian Massumi. Written from a Deleuzian perspective Massumi is able to argue simulation both replaces a real that did exist and is all there has ever been. The result is Massumi adopts a paradoxical position of believing simulation is both transhistorical and historical. To understand simulation, for Massumi, means focusing on how ‘simulation takes as its point of departure a regularized world comprising stable identities. But these “real” entities are in fact undercover simulacra’ (Massumi, 1987). Simulation is then a process of immanent becoming, with no foundational referent, but rather an appropriation of reality to alter and metamorphosis life. There is only ‘simulation upon simulation’ (Massumi, 1987).
However, for Baudrillard the referent, or what we call reality, is the symbolic, which is outside the process of the dominant semiotic processes. The symbolic is excluded from the semiotic, as the symbolic is an external threat to the semiotic, which can cause a rupture in the semiotic. Yet, Lyotard, and Merrin, have both critiqued the privileging of the symbolic as producing another simulacrum. Lyotard has labelled this privileging of the symbolic as the creation of a ‘good’ savage simulacrum, which holds nostalgia for the past in order to challenge the present. I completely agree with Lyotard’s assessment, and the ‘good’ savage is nothing other than another simulacrum. However, simulacrum become crucial, as it is through the production of simulacrum that life is lived. The production of simulacrum should be regarded as the creation of habit, the creation of machines, the creation of assemblages, and so forth. Baudrillard recognises this, claiming ‘the simulator produces’ (Baudrillard, 1983: p5). Simulacra may then also be a form of empowerment, and not only to be regarded as domination.
It is my belief Baudrillard’s orders of simulacra are aimed to comprehend different blocs of becoming. These blocks of becoming are how life is produced. The names attached to these blocs of becoming are arbitrary and unimportant. What is important is the recognition that something different is occurring, ‘becoming produces nothing other than itself. We fall into a false alternative if we say that you either imitate or you are. What is real is the becoming itself, the block of becoming, not the supposedly fixed terms through which becoming passes’ (Deleuze and Guattari, 2004: p262). Baudrillard is then proposing the orders of simulacra to argue, in comparison to other ages of production (counterfeit and industrial production), the affirmation of the contemporary world is different. This is why Baudrillard is complementary to Walter Benjamin and Marshall McLuhan, who were both able to understand the significance of new mediums entering into production processes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When theory meets practice

There is an intereting article here, which describes how the israeli defence have been influenced by recent theories and philosophy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Baudrillard Workshop at Newcastle University

If you'd like to spend some time in Newcastle, here is an event that might be of some interest to you:

Baudrillard & International Politics

Geography, Politics, and Sociology Workshop
28th November 2007
Bedson Building Room 1.48
Newcastle University

Plenary Speakers:

Paul Hegarty (University of Cork),
author of ‘Jean Baudrillard: Live Theory’

William Merrin (University of Swansea),
author of ‘Baudrillard and the Media’

Aim: To consider the (ir)relevance of Jean Baudrillard for understanding international politics. A selection of presentations, from academics and postgraduate candidates, will be given on the topic. In addition, after the presentations, there is time scheduled for a roundtable discussion.

The workshop is free to attend, and we envision a lively interaction between participants. Due to a limited capacity, could you please contact Mark Edward (m.d.edward@ncl.ac.uk) if you would like to attend. Deadline for registration is 22nd November 2007.

Monday, November 5, 2007

New Blog Pole

I am happy to announce the latest blog pole for struggleswithphilosophy. This month the pole is on the Frankfurt School, a group of thinkers that have inspired and interested me for a few years.

On another note, I am slowly making my way through Badiou's Being and Event, and also Hallward's Badiou: A Subject to Truth. Nick, from the accursed share, has writing a nice entry about the issues of Badiou's immanent ontology and politics, while comparing it to the immanent ontology of Deleuze (and Hardt & Negri). I have yet to formulate my own opinions on Badiou, but I have so far found his denial of the virtual, and the formulation of nothingness (the void) in contrast to the way I view ontology, which concentrates on the ontology of the present. I find this works towards a more affirmative way of thinking. I'll write a more detailed entry once I finish the reading and have developed coherent ideas.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

more stuff on academic publishing

Steve Shaviro has writing an interesting blog post regarding publishing rights for academic authors. In the end of the post he makes an interesting point:

In particular, it’s pathetic that academics in the “humanities” don’t have the sort of network for distributing their research online in the way that scientists and certain groups of social scientists do. Putting up pdfs on my own website will have to suffice for now.

This brings me back to another post I wrote regarding the insignificant use of the Internet in disseminating academic research/writing on the web (read here). From Shaviro's position there could also be the advantage of authors having more control over their work, rather than the publishers. This could allow the author to reproduce their work in other forms of the media (e.g. blogs), giving access to more people, without worrying if copyright infringements are occurring. It is not as if the quality of the papers submitted would fall in quality. A group of established academics could even set up their own blog that would accept articles, through email, for a particular subject/discipline. Once the articles are peered reviewed then the articles could be uploaded as pdf files for readers to download. The advantages are the blog is free to set up and the access to students/academics/non-academic readers is free.