Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?

Overview

“Behind every image, something has disappeared. And that is the source of its fascination,” writes French theorist Jean Baudrillard in Why Hasnt Everything Already Disappeared? In this, one of the last texts written before his death in March 2007, Baudrillard meditates poignantly on the question of disappearance. Throughout, he weaves an intricate set of variations on his theme, ranging from the potential disappearance of humanity as a result of the fulfillment of its goal of world mastery to the vanishing of ...

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Overview

“Behind every image, something has disappeared. And that is the source of its fascination,” writes French theorist Jean Baudrillard in Why Hasnt Everything Already Disappeared? In this, one of the last texts written before his death in March 2007, Baudrillard meditates poignantly on the question of disappearance. Throughout, he weaves an intricate set of variations on his theme, ranging from the potential disappearance of humanity as a result of the fulfillment of its goal of world mastery to the vanishing of reality due to the continual transmutation of the real into the virtual. Along the way, he takes in the more conventional question of the philosophical “subject,” whose disappearance has, in his view, been caused by a “pulverization of consciousness into all the interstices of reality.”

Interspersed throughout the text are 15 photographs by Alain Willaume that help illustrate Baudrillard’s argument. Baudrillard insists that with disappearance, strange things happen—some things that were eliminated or repressed may return in destructive viral forms—yet at the same time, he reminds us that disappearance has a positive aspect, as a “vital dimension” of the existence of things.

           

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Editorial Reviews

THE
"Baudrillard's readers will understand the appearance of Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? as an important occasion that will have a powerful impact on contemporary social theory. We should appreciate it not as a farewell essay, but as a practically spiritual text on the appearance, disappearance and reappearance of everyday objects. Consequently, if we seek to read his work accurately, we have to do so in view of its disappearance."--John Armitage, Times Higher Education
Guardian

"One of his last paradoxical meditations before his death in 2007. It has a gently apocalyptic flavour, with a vision of humans making themselves disappear through technological upgrades and artificial intelligence. Contemporary culture is full of ghosts. . . . The book is beautifully produced."

— Steven Poole

Times Higher Education

"Baudrillard’s readers will understand the appearance of Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? as an important occasion that will have a powerful impact on contemporary social theory. We should appreciate it not as a farewell essay, but as a practically spiritual text on the appearance, disappearance and reappearance of everyday objects. Consequently, if we seek to read his work accurately, we have to do so in view of its disappearance."

— John Armitage

Times Higher Education - John Armitage
"Baudrillard’s readers will understand the appearance of Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? as an important occasion that will have a powerful impact on contemporary social theory. We should appreciate it not as a farewell essay, but as a practically spiritual text on the appearance, disappearance and reappearance of everyday objects. Consequently, if we seek to read his work accurately, we have to do so in view of its disappearance."
Guardian - Steven Poole
"One of his last paradoxical meditations before his death in 2007. It has a gently apocalyptic flavour, with a vision of humans making themselves disappear through technological upgrades and artificial intelligence. Contemporary culture is full of ghosts. . . . The book is beautifully produced."
Publishers Weekly
A brief and meandering meditation by the late French postmodernist on the notion of the disappearance of both the “real world” and the human subject in modernity's drive toward objective knowledge and technological domination, this work more broadly links that “disappearance” with language's representational and conceptualizing dimensions. Baudrillard (Simulacra and Simulation) argues that the outcome of such a split between subject and the “natural world” is an absolute alienation in which both sides vanish. Distinguishing this process from any suggestions of an evolutionary trajectory, the author positions himself between a variety of poles, such as psychoanalysis, Marx, Hegel and Canetti, to characterize this disappearance as psychological or metaphysical rather than natural, and hence emphasizes its threatening aspects. By turns lucid and impenetrable, the prose makes frequent recourse to art and in particular photography to exemplify the distance between the human and the natural. With Willaume's images adding little by way of insight or illumination, the text neither undermines nor extends the theoretical framework laid out in previous writings, though perhaps offers, by virtue of its brevity, a good insight into the provocative theorist. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781906497408
  • Publisher: Seagull Books
  • Publication date: 10/15/2009
  • Series: SB-The French List Series
  • Pages: 72
  • Sales rank: 985,548
  • Product dimensions: 4.60 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Baudrillard's (1929–2007) many works include The System of Objects, Simulacra and Simulation, The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, and Utopia Deferred. Alain Willaume is a freelance photographer, independent curator, editor, and lecturer at the École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Strasburg. Chris Turner is a writer and translator who lives in Birmingham, England.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
   François L'Yvonnet
 
Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?

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