Surrealpolitik: Fatal Strategies

Author: Jean Baudrillard

London: Pluto Press (1999, first published in 1983)

Quick Summary

More delirious postmodern poetry about ecstasy and the hyperreal from Baudrillard.


There are 10 quotes currently associated with this book.

Ecstasy is the quality proper to any body that spins until all sense is lost, and then shines forth in its pure and empty form. Fashion is the ecstasy of the beautiful: pure and empty form of an esthetic spinning about itself. Simulation is the ecstasy of the real: just look at television, where real events follow each other in a perfectly ecstatic relation, that is, in dizzying, stereotyped, unreal and recurrent ways that allow their senseless and uninterrupted concatenation. In ecstasy: this is the object in advertising, as is the consumer in contemplation of the advertisement -- the spinning of use-value and exchange-value into annihilation in the pure and empty form of the brand-name. (page 9-10)
Tags: [Postmodernism, Simulacra/Illusion]
The real does not efface itself in favor of the imaginary; it effaces itself in favor of the more real than real: the hyperreal. The truer than true: this is simulation...More generally things visible do not come to an end in obscurity and silence -- instead they fade into the more visible than visible: obscenity; (page 11)
Tags: [Postmodernism, Simulacra/Illusion]
Beyond this point there are only catastrophes. Perfect is the event or language which assumes its own mode of disappearance, knows how to stage it, and thus reaches the maximal energy of appearances. The catastrophe is the maximal brute event, here too more eventful than the event -- but an event without consequences, one that leaves the world in suspense. Once the meaning of history is over, once this point of inertia has been passed, every event becomes catastrophe, becomes an event pure and without consequence, (but that is its power). The event without consequence -- like Musil's man without qualities, the body without organs, or time without memory. (page 17)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Postmodernism, Simulacra/Illusion]
[T]error is a sort of convex and deforming mirror of order and the political scene: the mirror of its disappearance. It too seems to come from some other set of connections, aleatory and vertiginous, from a panic by contiguity, and no longer seems to respond to the determinations of mere violence. More violent than the violent -- such is terrorism, whose transpolitical spiral corresponds to the same ascension to the limits in the absence of any rules for the game. (page 34)
Tags: [Terror, Simulacra/Illusion]
This is an extreme and caricatured form of responsibility: an anonymous, statistical, formal and aleatory one that plays on the terrorist act of the taking of hostages. But if you think about it, terrorism is only the executioner for a system which itself also seeks both total anonymity and, at the same time and contradictorily, total responsibility for each of us. With the death of anyone, it executes the sentence of anonymity that is henceforth ours, that of the anonymous system, anonymous power, the anonymous terror of our real lives. The principle behind extermination is not death, but rather statistical indifference. (page 36)
Tags: [Terror, Simulacra/Illusion]
Our paradoxical situation is this: because nothing any longer has meaning, everything should work perfectly. Because there is no longer a responsible subject, each event, even a minimal one, must be desperately imputed to someone or something -- everyone is responsible, some maximal floating responsibility is there, waiting to be invested in any kind of incident. Every anomaly must be justified and every irregularity must find its guilty party, its criminal link. This too is terror and terrorism: this hunt for responsibility without any common measure with the event -- this hysteria of responsibility that is itself a consequence of the disappearance of causes and the almighty power of effects. (page 36-37)
Tags: [Terror, Simulacra/Illusion]
We are all hostages, and we are all terrorists. This circuit has replaced that other one of masters and slaves, the dominating and the dominated, the exploiters and the exploited. Gone is the constellation of the slave and the proletarian: from now on it is the hostage and the terrorist. Gone is the constellation of alienation; from now on it is that of terror. It is worse than the one it replaces, but at least it liberates us from liberal nostalgia and the ruses of history. It is the era of the transpolitical that is beginning. (page 39)
Tags: [Terror, Simulacra/Illusion]
We have entered the constellation of blackmail not only in the "political" sphere, but everywhere. Everywhere the insane multiplication of responsibility operates as dissuasion...But do political events themselves ever offer anything but a false continuity? It is the solution of continuity that is interesting. Once it seemed to present itself as revolution; today it ends up as special effects. And terrorism itself is only a gigantic special effect. However, this is not because no meaning is intended. Against the general transparence, terrorism wishes to call on things to regain their meaning again, but does no more than accelerate this sentence of death and indifference. (page 39,40-41)
Tags: [Terror, Simulacra/Illusion]
The only revolution in things is today no longer in their dialectical transcendence (Aufhebung), but in their potentialization, in their elevation to the second power, in their elevation to the nth power, whether that of terrorism, irony, or simulation. It is no longer dialectics, but ecstasy that is in process. Thus terrorism is the ecstatic form of violence; thus the state is the ecstatic form of society; thus porn is the ecstatic form of sex, the obscene the ecstatic form of the scene, etc. It seems that things, having lost their critical and dialectical determination, can only redouble themselves in their exacerbated and transparent form, as in Virgilio's "pure war": the ecstasy of unreal war, contingent and present everywhere. Spatial exploration likewise is a mise en abyme of this world. Everywhere the virus of potentialization and mise en abyme carries the day, carries us towards an ecstasy which is also that of indifference. (page 41)
Tags: [Terror, Simulacra/Illusion]
Blackmail is worse than interdiction. Dissuasion is worse than sanctions. In dissuasion it is no longer, "Don't do that," but rather, "If you don't do it..." And it stop there -- the threatening eventuality is left in suspense. The whole art of blackmail and manipulation lies in this suspense -- the "suspense" peculiar to terror (just as in hostage-taking the hostage is suspended, not condemned: suspended over an outcome that escapes him). Needless to say, we all live collectively under nuclear blackmail -- not under the direct threat, but under the blackmail of the nuclear, which is strictly speaking not a system of destruction, but of planetary manipulation.

This institutes a wholly different type of relation to power than that based on the violence of interdiction. The latter had a specific referent and object, and therefore transgression of it was a possibility. Blackmail, however, is allusive, and is no longer based either on an imperative or on the utterance of a law (we should invent the dissuasive mode, based on the non-utterance of the law and on floating retorsion) but plays on the enigmatic form of terror.

Terror is obscene, in that it puts an end to the scene of interdiction and violence, which at least was familiar to us.

Blackmail is obscene, in that it puts an end to the scene of exchange. (page 42)
Tags: [Terror, Simulacra/Illusion]