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America Deserta

Richard Poirier

16 February 1989
by Jean Baudrillard, translated by Chris Turner.
Verso, 129 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 86091 220 5
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America Observed: The Newspaper Years of Alistair Cooke 
by Ronald Wells.
Reinhardt, 233 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 1 871061 09 1
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American Journals 
by Albert Camus, translated by Hugh Levick.
Hamish Hamilton, 155 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 241 12621 5
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... appear to be the operating assumption, however, of the celebrated French sociologist-philosopher Jean Baudrillard in America, the latest of his works translated into English. At first the reader might wonder why a prose as dense as his should be made more so by having it stretched across pages of a width and gloss more appropriate to an otherwise ...

Le pauvre Sokal

John Sturrock: The Social Text Hoax

16 July 1998
Intellectual Impostures 
by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont.
Profile, 274 pp., £9.99, October 1999, 1 86197 074 9
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... for the French thinkers who have come among us since the late Sixties, bearing what Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont would like to see ostracised as fatuous, if not actually nonsensical ideas.The authors are both professors of physics, Sokal in New York, Bricmont in Belgium, and it’s as hard scientists that they make their complaint against the intellectual ...
23 April 1992
Uncritical Theory: Post-Modernism, Intellectuals and the Gulf War 
by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 218 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 85315 752 9
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... cognitive, the latter relativist or even nihilist in tendency. The villains in this book are Jean Baudrillard, Richard Rorty, Stanley Fish, Jean-François Lyotard and Michel Foucault, closely followed, as we shall see, by Presidents Reagan and Bush, Margaret Thatcher and John Major. The heroes are ...

Like choosing between bacon and egg and bacon and tomato

Christopher Tayler: The Wryness of Julian Barnes

15 April 2004
The Lemon Table 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 213 pp., £16.99, March 2004, 9780224071987
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... even sends his ex-wife wry maintenance cheques (‘the claim was unanswerable, his cheque wry’). Jean Serjeant, the twinkly protagonist of Staring at the Sun, seems to leap from the cradle to the edge of the grave in order to spend as much time as possible ‘wryly noting’. In the space of four pages, a ‘...

Smash the Screen

Hal Foster: ‘Duty Free Art’

5 April 2018
Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War 
by Hito Steyerl.
Verso, 256 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 1 78663 243 2
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... between semi-paranoid projections (à la Philip K. Dick) and semi-cynical implosions (à la Jean Baudrillard). Such criticism has a special knack for catastrophism, which it also craves. With enormous ambition it challenges the culture of capitalism, but finally it is too much in awe of this leviathan – which it regards as the sole engine of ...
16 October 1997
Open Sky 
by Paul Virilio, translated by Julie Rose.
Verso, 152 pp., £35, August 1997, 9781859848807
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... of computer-screens; the world began to experience that ‘revenge of speed in inertia’ which Jean Baudrillard has identified as a hallmark of Post-Modernity. No doubt because Virilio is a professor of architecture, he initially studied this phenomenon through its effect on the urban fabric. In L’Espace critique (1984) he claimed that ‘the ...

Good dinners pass away, so do tyrants and toothache

Terry Eagleton: Death, Desire and so forth

16 April 1998
Death, Desire and Loss in Western Culture 
by Jonathan Dollimore.
Allen Lane, 380 pp., £25, April 1998, 0 7139 9125 9
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... others, before turning to consider the denial of death implicit in Enlightenment thought. As Jean Baudrillard remarks, there is a sense that for modernity ‘it is not normal to be dead’ – that the dead are committing some kind of unspeakable solecism simply by no longer being around. Not to exist at all is a disturbing form of ...

Andy Paperbag

Hal Foster: Andy Warhol

21 March 2002
Andy Warhol 
by Wayne Koestenbaum.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £12.99, November 2001, 0 297 64630 3
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... me it became delirious one night in the early 1980s at a club called Area, as I watched Jean Baudrillard, the theorist of the simulacrum, watching Warhol posing as ‘Warhol’ in a bare diorama of his own making, as if he were the wax model of his own dead specimen. I thought one of them would have to explode.) ‘Pop art rediscovers the theme ...

Aberdeen rocks

Jenny Turner: Stewart Home

9 May 2002
69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess 
by Stewart Home.
Canongate, 182 pp., £9.99, March 2002, 9781841951829
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... go. Writers under discussion include Michael Bracewell, Dick Hebdige, Lynne Tillman, Kathy Acker, Jean Baudrillard, Paul Johnson, W.G. Sebald. The eateries and supermarkets of Aberdeen are visited, and rendered, as far as I can see, entirely accurately. (I come from Aberdeen, which is how I’d know.) Ditto the hills walked and the stone circles ...

Normal People

Sheila Fitzpatrick: SovietSpeak

25 May 2006
Everything Was For Ever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation 
by Alexei Yurchak.
Princeton, 331 pp., £15.95, December 2005, 0 691 12117 6
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... rather than a person. But the disguise is heavy. Homi Bhabha, Claude Lefort, Slavoj Žižek, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Lacan, Tzvetan Todorov, Julia Kristeva, Judith Butler: an extraordinary range of theorists is included. Derrida, Bourdieu, Habermas, De Certeau and Althusser are not forgotten, and even Freud (though not Marx) makes it into the ...

Check out the parking lot

Rebecca Solnit: Hell in LA

8 July 2004
Dante's Inferno 
by Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders.
Chronicle, 218 pp., £15.99, May 2004, 0 8118 4213 4
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... it to assume allegorical and oracular proportions. A quarter of a century ago, everyone from Jean Baudrillard to Umberto Eco scanned it as a sort of crystal ball in which the future could be seen; the New York Times routinely portrays it not as Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, but as his Ship of Fools (Schwarzenegger’s election as governor ...

Donald Duck gets a cuffing

J. Hoberman: Disney, Benjamin, Adorno

24 July 2003
Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant-Garde 
by Esther Leslie.
Verso, 344 pp., £20, August 2002, 1 85984 612 2
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... Fantasyland and Frontierland.’ Not until European intellectuals such as Umberto Eco and Jean Baudrillard began to tour the US in the Reaganite 1980s did Disneyland – by then upgraded to Disney World – again seem avant-garde or, at least, exotic. These live-in fantasies were the acme of American hyper-realism – the media-saturated world of ...
25 June 1987
... simulation in sound and sight (laser disks, holograms); an age of ‘escape velocity’, as Jean Baudrillard describes it, when the earth, history, mankind are left behind like the debris of an exploding planet. Carlyle’s golden age of criticism, ‘splendent with theories’, was the calm before the storm of the French Revolution, an event that ...

Wild, Fierce Yale

Geoffrey Hartman

21 October 1982
Deconstruction: Theory and Practice 
by Christopher Norris.
Methuen, 157 pp., £6.50, April 1982, 0 416 32060 0
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... culture in which the diffusion of mental or material goods may lead to their dilution. When Jean Baudrillard, in France, develops a critical semiology which views the ‘sign’ as an abstraction of image from product brought about by commodification, and sharply differentiates it from the more organic ‘symbol’ of pre-modern societies, we are ...


Julian Loose

30 January 1992
The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Alfred Birnbaum.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 241 13144 8
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... to postomodanizumu, its culture seems both bewilderingly fluid and monumentally static. Even Baudrillard, it has been said, would find the Japanese passion for simulacra a little unnerving; Derrida would be at a loss, for nothing remains to deconstruct. Certainly the fiction of Haruki Murakami, Japan’s most popular novelist by far, is awash with ...

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