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Not much going on in my neck of the 'sphere here in the wake of Turkey Day. For the umpteenth year in a row, I did all I could to avoid Bleak Friday, the inevitably depressing reminder of all that is commercial and cynical about the upcoming holidays.

And so, looking to restore my faith and optimism, what should I come across (tip: Chuck) but a link to an NYT interview with Jean Baudrillard? Okay, if you don't know who JB is, then you wouldn't recognize that as irony. Trust me, though. It is.

There was a time when I was really into JB's work, when it felt like he was on the front edge of what was going on in culture and society. Of course, this was a while ago, and since then, I must admit that it's felt like the world passed him by. In part, I think it's a generational thing--had he been a fair bit younger, I think he would have embraced the Net and drifted with the flow a little more. Now, he just sounds cantankerous:

Q: Some here feel that the study of the humanities at our universities has been damaged by the incursion of deconstruction and other French theories.

A: That was the gift of the French. They gave Americans a language they did not need. It was like the Statue of Liberty. Nobody needs French theory.

That's the close of the piece. Ah, well. If he had bothered to lead with this bon mot, then perhaps Deborah Solomon's time could have been better spent with someone whose only relevance to the NYT is his status as "one of France's most celebrated philosophers." I can't help but sense the parallel between JB here and the other theory wonks who have delighted in crowing about the demise of theory, their last gasp attempt at keeping control over the industry from which they've derived a great deal of benefit but for which they're no longer as relevant. The irony of JB trying to keep it real in the NYT, after years of arguing precisely against such a strategy, is almost enough to make me laugh.

Almost. That is all.


That's a monumentally disappointing interview. Sound bite after sound bite... is any answer longer than 50 words? Seems like this exchange occured in the line at a coffee shop.

BTW, here's my example of irony for the day.

So what did you do for Thanksgiving? You didn't go back to Iowa, I assume? Did you have turkey and all the trimmings in Syracuse? I hope so!

there was a blip about JB in the New Yorker "Talk of the Town" last week. It's not online anymore, but I'll try to dig it up.