Sorry for the lateness of this post ya’ll, had some issues to deal with!
It seems that I find myself reading things this week (both for this class and for my field exam) that are quite damning of our current situation— it’s like listening to one of my old brown Middle Eastern or South Asian uncles lament the issues of “this generation” (which is usually not-so-subtle code to blast progressive views on social issues— or at least espouse conservative social values, no matter how nonsensical they might be when looking at you know, the history of the world). Or it’s like listening to various public figures talk smack about millennials and the problems of millennial culture.
“It is information itself which produces uncertainty, and so this uncertainty, unlike the traditional one which could always be resolved, is irreparable.” (580)
Now obviously, Baudrillard (and Benjamin, who I was also reading this past week) are a bit more sophisticated than my racist and homophobic uncles. The damning portrait they paint of technological reproduction and of media and the information age are done with an extensive philosophical understanding of how art, of how society, and of how the masses function and exist in our world.
“Overinformed, it develops in-growing obesity.” (580)
But man, I know that my mind is no where near capable of their kind of thinking, but must everything be so damning? Is this really how they view the world? Is societal, or at least technological, progression equivalent to society losing its grasp on actual “meaning?” Benjamin was concerned with art losing its aura and authority when copies were able to be reproduced on a mass scale through photographic means— and Baudrillard was concerned over the loss of meaning, the “liquidation” of it, the “violence done to [it].” But again, I keep coming back to this same questions of culture and my own interests— what if aura or authority don’t matter as much? What if meaning does not come from words and what they aren’t or are in relation to one another? What if we think of meaning in accordance to Eastern philosophies (be they related to Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or anything else)? And this leads me to another question, how much exposure did these Western Europeans have to non-Western traditions and thought? I honestly don’t know. But it seems like none at all. And perhaps this is too simplistic, but for that reason I read everything they write with a great amount of suspicion.