America by Jean Baudrillard

By Jean Baudrillard

'Since de Toqueville, French thinkers were enthusiastic about the US. but if it involves mysterious paradoxes and lyrical complexity no French highbrow suits Jean Baudrillard in considering the hot World... [He] has turn into a sharp-shooting Lone Ranger of the post-Marxist left." -- long island instances "The choice of wild, usually hilarious postcards from his journey to the USA comprises a number of the year's so much orignal and gorgeous writing." -- New Statesman and Society " ... sometimes provocative and in general infuriating ... the US is stuffed with perceptive, nearly poetic observations." -- Rolling Stone "A mix of loopy notions and dead-on insights, the USA is a worthy (and voluable) photo of what Mr. Baudrillard calls 'the simply closing primitive society' -- ours." -- long island instances publication evaluate

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Decidedly, joggers are the true Latter Day Saints and the protagonists of an easy-does-it Apocalypse. Nothing evokes the end of the world more than a man running straight ahead on a beach, swathed in the sounds of his Walkman, cocooned in the solitary sacrifice of his energy, indifferent even to catastrophes since he expects destruction to come only as the fruit of his own efforts, from exhausting the energy of a body that has in his own eyes become useless. Primitives, when in despair, would commit suicide by swimming out to sea until they could swim no longer.

Here, every last vestige of a heroic sense of destiny has disappeared. The whole place exudes an air of sentimental reconciliation with nature, with sex, with madness and even with history (by way of a carefully corrected, revised Marxism). Like many other aspects of contemporary America, Santa Cruz is part of the post-orgy world, the world left behind after the great social and sexual convulsions. , in short, the whole orgy of modernity - are all there, jogging along in their tribalism, which is akin to the electronic tribalism of Silicon Valley.

Unlike our European motorways, which are unique, directional axes, and are therefore still places of expulsion (Virilio), the freeway system is a place of integration (they even say that there are families who drive round on these roads in their mobile homes without ever leaving). It creates a different state of mind, and the European driver very quickly gives up his aggressive, every-man-for-himself behaviour and his individual reactions, and adopts the rules of this collective game. There is something of the freedom of movement that you have in the desert here, and indeed Los Angeles, with its extensive structure, is merely an inhabited fragment of the desert.

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