By Jean Baudrillard

'Since de Toqueville, French thinkers were fascinated by the USA. but if it involves mysterious paradoxes and lyrical complexity no French highbrow fits Jean Baudrillard in considering the recent World... [He] has turn into a sharp-shooting Lone Ranger of the post-Marxist left." -- ny instances "The number of wild, frequently hilarious postcards from his journey to the US comprises the various year's so much orignal and lovely writing." -- New Statesman and Society " ... sometimes provocative and ordinarily infuriating ... the US is stuffed with perceptive, nearly poetic observations." -- Rolling Stone "A mix of loopy notions and dead-on insights, the US is a priceless (and voluable) photo of what Mr. Baudrillard calls 'the merely ultimate primitive society' -- ours." -- ny occasions e-book evaluate

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This is not like a Platonic shadowplay, but more as if everything were carried along by, and haloed in, the gleam of the screen. Along with flux and mobility, the screen and its refraction are fundamental determinants of everyday events. A fusion of the kinetic and the cinematic produces a different mental configuration and overall perception from our own. You do not find mobility or the screen taking precedence over reality in the same way in Europe, where things most often remain within the static form of territory, the palpable form of substances.

LIVE OR DIE’: the graffiti message on the pier at Santa Monica is mysterious, because we really have no choice between life and death. If you live, you live, if you die, you die. ’ It is stupid, and yet it is enigmatic. You could read it to mean that you should live intensely or else disappear, but that is banal. ’. Stupid again, since you cannot exchange life for itself. And yet there is poetic force in this implacable tautology, as there always is when there is nothing to be understood. ’Where the others spend their time in libraries, I spend mine in the deserts and on the roads.

LOS ANGELES FREEWAYS Gigantic, spontaneous spectacle of automotive traffic. A total collective act, staged by the entire population, twenty-four hours a day. By virtue of the sheer size of the layout and the kind of complicity that binds this network ofthoroughfares together, traffic rises here to the level of a dramatic attraction, acquires the status of symbolic organization. The machines themselves, with their fluidity and their automatic transmission, have created a milieu in their own image, a milieu into which you insert yourself gently, which you switch over to as you might switch over to a TV channel.

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America by Jean Baudrillard


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