RIP: philosopher Jean Baudrillard, 1929-2007

Jean Baudrillard, the French philosopher who described America as the world's "only remaining primitive society," died this week at age 77. My NPR News colleague Madeleine Brand covered the news here: archived audio link. More: BBC, Wikipedia, Liberation, Scotsman. (Thanks, Alberto Gaitan, David, Barbarella, and many others.)

Many of you wrote in to wish him well (we promise to forward each email).

BoingBoing reader Lyzard said,

I may have never found his book "Simulacra and Simulation" if it wasn't for the Matrix. To explain more on hyperreal and what simulacrum is there is an excellent video mashup example I found a few weeks ago on youtube: "Grand Theft Simulacra."

[ More reader comments after the jump. ]

John Frost from the Disney Blog says,

Among his theories on simulcra and the hyperreal was his famous essay on why Disneyland is the perfect example of simulcra: Link. Can't say I disagree. He was also a noted War Critic.

okkoto says,

while western thought has its shortcomings , few things are better at critiquing western society than postmodernism. it takes the alienation and disenfranchisement that marx recognized and combines it with the deconstruction of derrida to really tear open the media dominated consumer frenzy that we live in today.

baudrillard was by far my favorite postmodern philosopher. even if you've never studied him you know his work, because undoubtedly you've seen the matrix. the hollowed out book that neo stores his little data disc in, "simulacra and simulation", is baudrillard's landmark work and its themes are soaked into the movie for certain.

my own personal thoughts on postmodernism concerns the fact that it is inches away from finally bridging the gap between western analytical thought and romanticism. postmodernists come to question the fabric of reality enough to allow for a mckenna style archaic revival to be the solution to our ills, entheogens cleansing the doors of perception from all hyper-real simulacra, resurrecting culture and language as the sacred entities they used to be.

godspeed mr baudrillard.

quanta says,

Baudrillard has definitely inspired the world of sci-fi with his concepts on hyperrealism. In "The Matrix", Morpheus specifically quotes a Baudrillardism: "the desert of the real". William Gibson also uses a Baudrillard quote as a title for his 1999 documentary, "No Maps for These Territories".


Ironically, Baudrillard didn't think much of the integration of his ideas into "The Matrix": in an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, he calls the film's implementation "roughly done" and "a misunderstanding" of his theories. [ Link ]