“The history of the social will never have had time to lead to socialism, it will have been short-circuited by the hyper social, by the hyperreality of the social. . . . Thus, even before political economy leads to its dialectical overthrow, to the resolution of all needs and to the optimal organization of all things . . . it will have been captivated by hyperreality of the economy (the stepping up of production, the procession of the production of demand before that of goods, the indefinite scenario of crisis).”

In describing the very mechanics of “meaning” and “the social,” Baudrillard makes clear how dialectic modes of cultural criticism exist within a crisis of representation. Both meaning and the social are in a state of “implosion.” He articulates examples in many areas of contemporary life where the will to oppose or resist becomes a circuit of helpless conformity. Baudrillard clarifies the efficient, rapidly producing and self-preserving mechanisms in capitalism, and the huge intellectual challenge of its critique. Baudrillard’s theories reveal the pathos and absurdity of academic position—holding while setting forth the task of developing experience capable of outrunning, if even for a moment of what he calls “seduction,” the thoroughly absorptive phenomena of late capitalism. —KH


The Transparency of Evil: Essays in Extreme Phenomena

Jean Baudrillard

A new investigation of simulations from Baudrillard edited in a Mythologies-like compilation. The focus: popular notions operating within what Baudrillard considers “delusionary” dialectics. Topics such as: “human rights” (to work, desire, the unconscious), epidemics, aesthetics, transsexuality, technology, terrorism, the Heidegger Nazi question, energy crisis, difference (regulated exchange breeching what is considered “good” or “useful”), immune systems, and more where recycled dialectic thought attempts impossible relations of determined value within the phenomena of “out of control late capitalism”, that is, the “advanced stage of simulacra.”
Baudrillard describes an “epidemic of value” where such a proliferation of values occurs that an overall disappearance of values takes place. Hence—the “transparency of evil.” He states that “it is as impossible to make estimations between beautiful and ugly, true and false, or good and evil, as it is simulataneously to calculate a particle’s speed and position.”
Offering double negations to dismantle the hopes of “progressives” and “post-modernists” alike, the collection closes with an essay entitled “The Object as Strange Attractor” which discusses potential escape from reproducing indifference, refuting claims that Baudrillard is exclusively a theorist of crisis. KH

Publisher: Verso
Paperback: 192 pages