This video is 8th in the 8-part video lecture series, The Self Under Siege: Philosophy in the Twentieth Century (1993).
I. The task of creating a life with the “self under siege” to the degree I have argued may seem impossible. At the very least, it calls for what Baudrillard calls “fatal strategies”. So I begin this lecture with the work of Baudrillard, perhaps the last philosopher?
II. Baudrillard builds on the work Guy Debord, the situationist author of “The Society of the Spectacle”. Baudrillard traces the symptoms and tendencies of the trajectory of the postmodern; a set of concepts appropriate for a new world of technologies of images and communication developing in the late 20th Century.
III. The first of these is the Hyperreal. This is the image, the reproduction that is more real than real, reality is whatever can be mechanically and technologically reproduced. This is made possible by the shift from hard to soft technologies.
IV. The second of these is Simulations. Reality is that which can be simulated, xeroxed, virtual reality, images, data flows, information at rapid speed.
V. The third of these is Utopia Realized as the End of Man and World, with all their references to the regulation and control and obvious political meanings. Baudrillard ironically argues that America is Utopia realized in “the shadow of the silent majorities” and with all the banality that belongs to all Utopias.
VI. For Baudrillard, we are, or are becoming, fractal selves; split, reproducible, basic life-style changes as fads, the disappearance of experience and the desire for a vanishing reality.
VII. Beyond Baudrillard, Afrocentrism appears as an answer to reconnecting ourselves with “reality”. But this too is becoming commodified in rap and “black” films.
VIII. The Ecstasy of communication, the vertigo of information overload, the banality of a Transparent society; can any of these postmodern symptoms show us the way out of the 20th Century and toward a new construction of the human? Can we find meaning in the “world” that is already upon us? It is our task to try.
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