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First prize for cerebral coldbloodedness goes to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. ... It takes a rare, demonic genius to brush off the slaughter of thousands on the grounds that they were suffering from severe ennui brought about by boring modern architecture.
“... philosophical perfection. Each book [in the Verso series of 9-11] offers powerful and highly readable commentary that whirlwinds around the specter of the towers, and together the texts raise an indelibly valuable dialogue where many are still afraid to step. Unbreakable, these volumes are filled with extraordinary ideas and ideals that slowly piece together from one poetic line to the next.”—XLR8R Magazine
“First prize for cerebral coldbloodedness goes to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard ... It takes a rare, demonic genius to brush off the slaughter of thousands on the grounds that they were suffering from severe ennui brought about by boring modern architecture.”—New York Times Book Review
Posted June 17, 2003
If you are interested in how a French intellectual is thinking in the wake of 9-11, read this book that takes about an hour to consume. Two essays are bound in the slick volume that, though small, is packed with insight. The first essay, ¿The Spirit of Terrorism,¿ identifies the symbolic role of the twin towers before destruction as an expression of global power. Baudrillard connects the twin-ness of the towers to the twin-ness of the attacks and the resultant impact of the twin collapse. If only one tower had collapsed, the impact on the nation and the world would have different. Finally, Baudrillard connects twin-ness of the towers to the duality of human nature. The destruction of the twin towers broke the unnatural symmetry of global power while restoring the natural asymmetry and singularity of the United States as viewed from a perspective of global interdependence; the US was no longer unique or omnipotent. Baudrillard conducts an exegesis of the twin towers¿ symbolic value that emphasizes their disappearance. He attempts to prove the disappearance of the towers has more symbolic value than their presence ever possessed. Their disappearance left behind an intense awareness of their presence. According to Baudrillard, no one who knew them can cease imagining them; they have become the eighth wonder of the world. Their destruction was the ¿mother of all events¿ that unites all events that have never taken place, that have only been imagined. Their invisible twin-ness represents, for their survivors, the duality of global disorder and order. Acts of terrorism are the terrorists¿ response to globalization. The eighteen hijackers who unleashed a global catastrophic process caused evil to surface in a manner that broke through American denial of death, a denial that consists of an ¿ideal of zero deaths,¿ a new American myth that emerged after the Vietnam War. Baudrillard informs us that terrorist acts break through the denial of the existence of evil; evil gains autonomy and develops exponentially following an act of terrorism. Evil and good advance together as part of the same movement, in spite of our desire to believe good overcomes evil, and that, with the right technology, so will life overcome death. Baudrillard, in an interesting turn, suggests the global community is worried about a third world war; in fact, according to the author, World War III has already been fought. WWI ended colonialism, WWII ended Nazism, and WWIII¿the Cold War¿ended communism. Although Baudrillard doesn¿t come right out and say it, he implies that WWIV is the looming fear the global community feels in the wake of 9-1; WWIV will end either terrorism or globalization. Baudrillard defines the spirit of terrorism: The ¿irruption of death, which is far more real: a death which is symbolic and sacrificial¿that is to say, the absolute, irrevocable event. This is the spirit of terrorism.¿ ¿Requiem for the Twin Towers¿ repeats some of the first essay¿s information, but is shorter and far more eloquently organized and emotionally stirring as it was delivered on the first anniversary of 9-11. These are two essays well worth an hour of your time.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.