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Symbolic Exchange And Death



The end of labor. The end of production. The end of politicaleconomy. The end of the signifier/signified dialectic which facilitatesthe accumulation of knowledge and of meaning, the linear syntagma ofcumulative discourse. And at the same time, the end simultaneously ofthe exchange value/use value dialectic which is the only thing thatmakes accumulation and social production possible. The end of lineardimension of discourse. The end of the linear dimension of thecommodity. The end of the classical era of the sign. The end of the eraof production (Baudrillard 1993a: 8).




Symbolic Exchange and Death



Nonetheless, he claims, at this point in his trajectory (i.e., thelate 1970s and early 1980s) that refusal of meaning and participationby the masses is a form of resistance. Hovering between nostalgia andnihilism, Baudrillard at once exterminates modern ideas (e.g., thesubject, meaning, truth, reality, society, socialism, and emancipation)and affirms a mode of symbolic exchange which appears to manifest anostalgic desire to return to premodern cultural forms. This desperatesearch for a genuinely revolutionary alternative was abandoned,however, by the early 1980s. Henceforth, he develops yet more novelperspectives on the contemporary moment, vacillating between sketchingout alternative modes of thought and behavior and renouncing the questfor political and social change.


In summary, symbolic exchange is a crucial and complicated critical concept for understanding the early and middle works of Baudrillard. It includes a theory of modernity, of production, of value and capitalism, which in turn is derived from an idiosyncratic blend of French post-war semiotics with a Marxist analysis of society. Of central importance is the distinction (whether actual or rhetorical) between pre-modern societies and capitalism, between cyclical and linear models of time, between production and consumption and above all, value as a common category of production (exchange value) and language (as sign value or meaning). Baudrillard thus fuses an economic theory with a theory of language to arrive at a theory of the mass media as key historical actors of the proliferation of simulacra.


This is the fatality of every system committed by its own logic to total perfection and therefore to a total defectiveness, to absolute infallibility and therefore irrevocable breakdown: the aim of all bound energies is their own death. This is why the only strategy is catastrophic, and not dialectical at all. Things must be pushed to the limit, where quite naturally they collapse and are inverted (Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange and Death: 4).


We live in a society where there is a marked distinction. . . between real and personal law, between things and persons. This distinction is fundamental; it is the very condition of part of our system of property, alienation and exchange. Yet it is foreign to the customs we have been studying. . . these customs of gift-exchange in which persons and things become indistinguishable (Ibid.: 46).


Early on, words became an explicit thematic for Baudrillard. Symbolic Exchange and Death emphasized the poetical movement of words as activating the fatal declension of the name of God (Baudrillard, 2003: 10) in poetic figuration, words circulate without the anchorage of (hidden) meaning, beyond the structure of the sign as signifier/signified division. Here circulation is that of the gift-cycle, a continuity without recourse to the finality of value, dissolving rather than ossifying sense: The poetic is the restitution of symbolic exchange in the very heart of words. Where words, in the discourse of signification, finalized by meaning, do not respond to each other, do not speak to each other. . . in the poetic, on the contrary, once the authority of meaning has been broken, all the constitutive elements enter into exchange with, and start to respond to, each other (Ibid.:205). We could say, following Bataille, that the discontinuity (discursivity) of the name is abolished in the radical continuity of the poem. The ecstasy of death (Ibid.: 210).


11 -Utopia is paradoxically empty (a void, non-place) yet full (not needing to be filled, not the space of alienation). It is exterior to the real because it lacks a principle of accumulation (value) and representation (not in the imaginary). It poses problems for the semiotic order because it does not exist under the division of the sign, nor under the division of the homological structure of use/exchange. Utopia reverses the finality of an accumulative, simulacral real, an emptiness which dissolves the regimes of value. See Mike Gane, op. cit., 114-115.


Taylor and Coop investigate Chapter 56of Jean Baudrillard's Symbolic Exchange and Death: The Extermination of the Name of God. Symbolic Exchange & Death Playlist: -co-coopercherry/sets/symbolic-exchange-and-deathSupport us on Patreon: : @unconscioushhInstagram: @unconscioushh


In 1986 he moved to IRIS (Institut de Recherche et d'Information Socio-Économique) at the Université de Paris-IX Dauphine, where he spent the latter part of his teaching career. During this time he had begun to move away from sociology as a discipline (particularly in its "classical" form), and, after ceasing to teach full-time, he rarely identified himself with any particular discipline, although he remained linked to academia. During the 1980s and 1990s his books had gained a wide audience, and in his last years he became, to an extent, an intellectual celebrity,[56] being published often in the French- and English-speaking popular press. He nonetheless continued supporting the Institut de Recherche sur l'Innovation Sociale at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and was Satrap at the Collège de Pataphysique. Baudrillard taught at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland,[57] and collaborated at the Canadian theory, culture, and technology review Ctheory, where he was abundantly cited. He also purportedly participated in the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies (as of 2022 hosted on Bishop's University domain) from its inception in 2004 until his death.[58]


Baudrillard's earlier books were attempts to argue that the first two of these values are not simply associated, but are disrupted by the third and, particularly, the fourth. Later, Baudrillard rejected Marxism totally (The Mirror of Production and Symbolic Exchange and Death).[citation needed] But the focus on the difference between sign value (which relates to commodity exchange) and symbolic value (which relates to Maussian gift exchange) remained in his work up until his death. Indeed, it came to play a more and more important role, particularly in his writings on world events.


As Baudrillard developed his work throughout the 1980s, he moved from economic theory to mediation and mass communication. Although retaining his interest in Saussurean semiotics and the logic of symbolic exchange (as influenced by anthropologist Marcel Mauss), Baudrillard turned his attention to the work of Marshall McLuhan, developing ideas about how the nature of social relations is determined by the forms of communication that a society employs. In so doing, Baudrillard progressed beyond both Saussure's and Roland Barthes's formal semiology to consider the implications of a historically understood version of structural semiology. According to Kornelije Kvas, "Baudrillard rejects the structuralist principle of the equivalence of different forms of linguistic organization, the binary principle that contains oppositions such as: true-false, real-unreal, center-periphery. He denies any possibility of a (mimetic) duplication of reality; reality mediated through language becomes a game of signs. In his theoretical system all distinctions between the real and the fictional, between a copy and the original, disappear".[69]


Baudrillard reacted to the West's indifference to the Bosnian War in writings, mostly in essays in his column for Libération. More specifically, he expressed his view on Europe's unwillingness to respond to "aggression and genocide in Bosnia," in which "New Europe" revealed itself to be a "sham." He criticized the Western media and intellectuals for their passivity, and for taking the role of bystanders, engaging in ineffective, hypocritical and self-serving action, and the public for its inability to distinguish simulacra from real world happenings, in which real death and destruction in Bosnia seemed unreal. He was determined in his columns to openly name the perpetrators, Serbs, and call their actions in Bosnia aggression and genocide.[74]


In his essay, "The Spirit of Terrorism," Baudrillard characterises the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 on the World Trade Center in New York City as the "absolute event."[79] Baudrillard contrasts the "absolute event" of 11 September 2001 with "global events," such as the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and World Cup. The essay culminates in Baudrillard regarding the U.S.-led Gulf War as a "non-event," or an "event that did not happen." Seeking to understand them as a reaction to the technological and political expansion of capitalist globalization, rather than as a war of religiously based or civilization-based warfare, he described the absolute event and its consequences as follows:


Baudrillard's stance on the 11 September 2001 attacks was criticised on two counts. Richard Wolin (in The Seduction of Unreason) forcefully accused Baudrillard and Slavoj Žižek of all but celebrating the terrorist attacks, essentially claiming that the United States received what it deserved. Žižek, however, countered that accusation to Wolin's analysis as a form of intellectual barbarism in the journal Critical Inquiry, saying that Wolin failed to see the difference between fantasising about an event and stating that one is deserving of that event. Merrin (in Baudrillard and the Media) argued that Baudrillard's position affords the terrorists a type of moral superiority. In the journal Economy and Society, Merrin further noted that Baudrillard gives the symbolic facets of society unfair privilege above semiotic concerns. Second, authors questioned whether the attacks were unavoidable. Bruno Latour, in Critical Inquiry, argued that Baudrillard believed that their destruction was forced by the society that created them, alluding to the notion that the Towers were "brought down by their own weight." In Latour's view, this was because Baudrillard conceived only of society in terms of a symbolic and semiotic dualism.[vague][90] 041b061a72


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