I don’t really know how Baudrillard works. I probably never will, but I have been pretty much focusing on him since beginning this blog. Maybe I will move on to someone new in the near future. Not sure. However, I recently finished up The Procession of Simulacrum and just began reading Passwords, which looks like a coffee table book. I’m not sure why it’s formatted so weirdly, but that doesn’t really matter.
Either way Baudrillard picks up some key words that he dubs passwords and looks at their role in society. At least that is what I have picked from the third of the book I’ve read. Nonetheless Baudrillard tackles Obscenity in this book and ties it into communication and reality and all that jazz, but it isn’t the obscenity that I usually associate with the word. I think of curse words and racial slurs, but Baudrillard sees it as reality in some way. He starts out with a little talk on how we relate with “things” saying: We are no longer in a society which distances us from things…our curse is that we are brought up ultra-close against them, that everything is immediately realized, both things and ourselves. And this too-real world is obscene.
I can’t tell how so many of those words are being used. Things is too incredibly broad that I have no idea if he means objects or people or events. Maybe all of them. The other part is how he uses obscene in the last sentence. I’m guessing he just means it in the sense that it is used classically. That it is upsetting and it goes against the norm of society. But why not just say strange and abrasive? Why obscene? Something to ponder and look for in other Baudrillard writings I guess. To tackle the whole distance thing, I can’t agree or disagree. I think in the realm of media and advertising, yes, we are completely held up against the fuzzy screen until our minds melt a little bit like cheese on nachos. However, outside of that are we really that close to everything? People are definitely further apart than they were a few decades ago. Phones, facebook, twitter. All these things that are designed to bring people closer and closer together creates this mental distance between people that would be bridged [I think?] by face to face communication [FACE-OFF]. But that is the society that we live in and have little choice but to embrace and live within, which is completely fine [By reading this blog some people are actually getting closer to knowing me, so not all social media is bad]. However, this all does boil down to that meaning of “things,” which is getting me mind-bogglingly furious. Maybe it was a translation issue. Who knows.
Well back to obscenity. So after this short discourse on our close communication world Baudrillard goes back into the obscenity thing and states this: These are the two extremes: Obscenity and Seduction, as is shown by art, which is one of the terrains of seduction.
OK Baudrillard, what the fuck. This isn’t the obscenity that I grew up with, but I’ll try to roll with it. Obscenity is closer to the truth and seduction and its temptress art is there to come up and snag you into falsity. So I guess he does mean obscenity as jarring and going against accepted norms. Yeah, I guess that makes sense and fits and since it goes against my preconceived notions, it’s better to go with that one. And to be honest I can understand this idea that the obscene usually tends to be closer to the truth than that which is fanciful and distracting, ie art. But when obscenity wanders into the realm of art, where do we end up? Is it like what he states about realism art, that it is on the true side of seduction? I’m guessing so. Does obscenity wander into the art world in this sense though? I guess it must. Maybe that would be where propaganda lies on this little spectrum.
But this leaves me with the question where art really exists within society. Is it the world from They Live sans sunglasses [Rowdy Roddy Piper is my favorite man]? Art can be blinding I guess and I’m not really suggesting that Baudrillard believes seduction and obscenity (art and reality) to be mutually exclusive, but I where does it fit? Pure entertainment? No. Activism art puts that idea to bed, but there is supposed to be a part of activism art that is entertaining in a way I think. Is activism art a medium of seduction? Yet another question I can’t decide and will perpetuate this whole thinking thing. I hate the word thing.
So I’m sure this doesn’t help any of you understand anything since about 85% of the post is solely questions, but if it gets you thinking, we can have a face-off of questions and comments. As always, leave me a comment because it makes me feel better that people might actually be reading and liking this.
Current listening – Art Brut: Art Brut vs. Satan
If you haven’t checked out this album yet, do so. It’s angsty, but seems a bit more grown up. Love his voice. If you already know Art Brut and enjoy them, check out Everybody Was in the French Resistance Now which features the lead singer from that Brut. All wonderful things.