Thanksgiving Is Ruined

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March 08, 2007
post-Baudrillard snark survey

OK, here's the current score.

A review of on-line comments/posts that react to news of the death of Jean Baudrillard, shows that, at the moment, expressions of snark seem to outnumber expressions of meta-snark
[roughly defined for present purposes as commentary in a somewhat self-aware or wiseass manner on one's own or others extant or anticipated wiseass commentary]
by a factor of 4 to 1.

Examples follow.

But is he "really" dead?

"But did he really die?" I quipped.

But can we be sure he is dead?!

How can we really know if Jean Baudrillard is dead?

Jean Baudrillard, the social theorist and philosopher who wrote Simulacra and Simulation, died yesterday -- or did he?

Voice of America is reporting that Jean Baudrillard has died, at the age of 77. How could they tell?

Did Jean Baudrillard exist?

You’re Asuming He Was Real To Begin With

Baudrillard, whose simulacrum departed at the age of 77 . . .

Jean Baudrillard becomes fourth-order simulacrum.

So, Jean Baudrillard is no longer existing in hyperreality, but hyper...what's the opposite of reality? Fantasy? Hyperfantasy? That's not funny. Hyperextinction, now that's funny.

The Death of Jean Baudrillard Will Not Take Place

Could one suggest that Jean Baudrillard did not, in fact, die [?]

Jean Baudrillard Did Not Die. It was only a simulation.

Baudrillard Simulates Death. . . . Or it could just be the simulacrum of death.

Baudrillard: dead or signifying death? Haw! . . . I love it.

Maybe it is possible
That your death
Did not
Take Place

Or is his death merely a hyperreal simulacra of an event whose perception has become so divorced from its referent that the referent ceases to exist at all?

Baudrillard Succumbs to The Real

reality: 1
artifice and simulation: 0

Hopefully in death, he found reality.

Baudrillard has passed into the eternal simulacra.

He might argue that he actually stepped over into reality and that we, blinded by the simulation of reality in which we emmerse ourselves, can no longer perceive teh signifier of his existence and therefore attribute it to death, which, in itself, is a simulation.

"Most Popular Ways to Commemorate the Death of Jean Baudrillard"


Let's get the jokes over and done with first. As his obituary in the Guardian puts it, the death of Jean Baudrillard did not take place. Was it Baudrillard who died, or his simulacrum? Has he hyperreally gone? Oh, the drolleries will be flying round the philosophy chat rooms today.

News of the death of Jean Baudrillard provokes mischievous and possibly disrespectful thoughts about how he would have reported his own passing. "It never happened" would be the obvious choice.

Baudrillard was notorious for saying things like "the real no longer exists" (the obvious joke now being, "Does death exist, Mr. Baudrillard?")

Baudrillard dies. . . . Or did he? Ok, I know that title is pretty lame because it took about half a millisecond to conjure up. I could have titled this post, “Baudrillard’s Death Did Not Take Place” but that would have been even lamer. On the other hand, did anyone really witness his death? Oh well, it’s too easy to make these sorts of jokes about postmodernists and so they come off as kinda cheap.

Baudrillard 'Dies' Jokes Die

and my favorite (i.e., the funniest):
Jean Baudrillard's 'death' is merely the ineluctable techno-mediated metaconstruct (hyperfigment?) of the neuro-totalitarian hyperhegemonic ultra-militarized anglo-saxon (nihil-American?) media-hyperreality complex, the purpose (hypergoal?) of which is the configuring in hyperreal-time of viral pixel-chimeras designed to legitimate gigacapitalist cognitive metadoxical hypertravesties. My condolences.

I will not attempt to draw and display any brilliant wisdom from the above, probably because my powers of analysis are too meagre and observation too dull, and because I am certainly too lazy, except to wonder about the snark,


1. The comments show how successful JB was (in "winning" in the supposed "marketplace of ideas"?), even among those who think his ideas to be hogwash, given how well distributed his writings (.pdf), ideas and jargon became, such that wags show, and even take pains to show, some familiarity with these.

2. JB's death is seen by some as the inevitable comeuppance of him and his ideas, and thus a refutation of whatever he had to say, insofar as some of the comments have a certain "Ha! That [i.e., death] sure showed him" quality.

3. The deep, fatalistic belief or assumption is now widespread that anyone who, as JB arguably did, tries to break out from, stand apart from or critique our modern, massified, increasingly pervasive system of media-driven consensus reality, in any ways or with any language/tools other than those that the system itself approves and allows, inevitably will be hoist by their own petard, and thus be unable to escape in any lasting, real, serious or meaningful way.

4. While many of the snarkists' comments, when taken individually, perhaps attempt to assert the speakers' own originality of thought, nonconformist humor, individualism, creativity and savvy, so many of their comments, when viewed as a group, sound identical to one another, as if they were prescripted or recited via unconscious memory of previously absorbed media messages (cf. The Onion from 2004 on Derrida), about what's "funny" or what a nonconformist freethinker on the internet is supposed to say about a dead "postmodernist."

5. The style and content of these critiques of JB's ideas perhaps prove his ideas to be more correct, and his characterization of us more uncomfortably accurate, than we realized or are willing to admit to ourselves.

The above scoresheet calculation excludes comments/posts that are plain or straightforward, most of which were simple and heartfelt expressions of regret at the man's death, or were (what I found to be) interesting or insightful, such as the following from the "Foucault Is Dead" blog:

It’s funny how garbage like this BBC news report of Baudrillard’s death . . . doesn’t actually note how central death as a concept is in Baudrillard’s work. . .
[emphasis supplied]

or this from the Ghost in the Wire blog, one of a pair that is very informative about the connections between the ideas of JB and Heidegger.