ISSN: 1705-6411

Volume 1, Number 2 (July 2004)
 

The Gnostic Baudrillard: A Philosophy of Terrorism Seeking Pure Appearance

Dr.  Jonathan Smith
(RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia).
 

I. Introduction

The most difficult thing is to think Evil, to hypothesize Evil. This has been done only by heretics: Manicheans and Cathars, both groups envisioning an antagonistic coexistence of two equal and eternal cosmic principles, Good and Evil, at once inseparable and irreconcilable. Within this vision, duality is primary. It is the original form – as difficult to conceive as the hypothesis of Evil.1

 

            Jean Baudrillard has seduced many scholars into print, but most avoid his metaphysics of terrorism and his post-Marxist Gnostic Nihilism. In short, his Manichean theme makes many scholars uneasy. Levin for instance, reckons: “Baudrillard’s insistence on a formulation based on such archaic metaphysical principles as Evil has met with much moral displeasure, particularly among promoters of radical cultural politics”.2

            Even so, some commentators have dared to approach the forbidden Baudrillard. In some astute early scholarship, Santamaria wrote: “one can situate Baudrillard’s work within the long tradition of Gnostic Manicheanism”.3 Yet, Santamaria missed Baudrillard’s Pyrrhonian practice of that Gnostic tradition. Conversely, Foss noted Baudrillard’s inheritance of Hellenistic Skepticism and compared him with Pyrrho, but missed Baudrillard’s Manichean use of that skeptical tradition. Morris also missed the Manichean Baudrillard, but suggested him nevertheless by marking the man as a magician rooted in a peculiar type of skepticism.4  Wernick, Genosko, Botting, and Cholodenko5 all noted the Manichean Baudrillard, but neglected the Pyrrhonian one, thus missing the skeptical link into his philosophy of terrorism. Now, in the aftermath of September 11, the story of how Baudrillard is sketching out the first metaphysics of skepticism in modern Western philosophy can finally be told.
 

II. Jets into Skyscrapers                                                  

            Once upon a time, when crashing jets into skyscrapers was an unknown singularity, Jean Baudrillard declared: “I am a terrorist and nihilist in theory as the others are with their weapons”.6  Earlier, he had interpreted those skyscrapers as a fatal sign of monopoly in a capitalist space seduced by simulation (i.e. facts preceded and superceded by models of them): “Why has the World Trade Centre in New York got two towers?…The fact that there are two identical towers signifies the end of all competition, the end of every original reference”.7 

            Later on, Baudrillard gave his terrorism a wider context by lecturing on “The Global, the Universal and the Singular” during the Baudrillard: West of the Dateline conference (Auckland, March 20-22, 2001). At the time, few knew that this fashionable French theorist was also a Manichean metaphysician with a philosophy of terrorism capable of illuminating the likes of September 11.  Yet, while Baudrillard analyzed singularity as the bane of globalization, those jets-into-skyscrapers were already a calibrated simulation in bin Laden’s mind, ripe for reproduction in reality. A spectacular catastrophe was looming, precipitated by bin Laden and anticipated by the Gnostic Baudrillard.  So, soon after the twin towers fell, Baudrillard had analyzed the event via his Manichean belief that Good and Evil are intermingled in this penultimate cosmos. The “crucial point” about September 11, he argued in Le Monde (November 3, 2001), is its power to show that “Good and Evil advance together, as part of the same movement”, with Manichean illusion marking those jets-into-skyscrapers.8 “According to Manicheanism”, he explained earlier, “the reality of the world is a total illusion”, following an original seduction, because an evil demon created it that way to subdue God.9

            Here, the Three Epochs doctrine of Mani (3rd century CE) is the key to comprehending Baudrillard’s metaphysics of terrorism. “Mani’s developed doctrine…undertook to expound beginning, middle and end of the total drama of being”, explains Jonas in The Gnostic Religion. Referring to Good (Light) and Darkness (Evil), Jonas notes that: “the foundation of Mani’s teaching is the infinity of the primal principles; the middle part concerns their intermingling; and the end, the separation of the Light from the Darkness”10 Here, creation occurs during the Second Epoch, with Evil in control of the process.11 This is why Baudrillard refers to “the Evil Genius of matter”.12                                   

            This evil genius is also known by Gnostics as the Demiurge who, explains Eco: “gives life to an erroneous, instable world, into which a portion of divinity itself falls as if into prison or exile”.13 Here, creation as illusion flows from original seduction, as Baudrillard underlines in at least three interviews.14  In this metaphysical matrix, “the Gnostic recognizes himself as a spark of divinity, provisionally cast into exile as a result of a cosmic plot”, continues Eco: “If he manages to return to God, man will not only be reunited with his own beginnings and origin, but will also help to regenerate that very origin and to free it from the original error”.15

            The Gnostic goal of this cosmic drama is purification – i.e. distilling Good from Evil, Light from Darkness, God from Demon, Spirit from Matter.16 And so, Baudrillard argues that we would love to “expunge man from the world in order to see it in its original purity”.17 “In a word, we dream of our disappearance and of seeing the world in its inhuman purity (which is precisely not the state of nature)”.18 To reach that goal, Baudrillard seeks pure appearance or “the ephemeral moment in which things take the time to appear before taking on meaning or value”.19  This emerges from “the game of appearances”, with Baudrillard insisting that “the game has its rule and its possibly rigorous ritual”.20 One such ritual is terrorism, he argues, because it “opposes to every event said to be real the purest form of the spectacular”.21  “There has to be extermination”, Baudrillard insists, if we wish to reach “the level of pure appearance” via, for instance, “rituals and ceremonies”.22. In short, “pure appearance…orders a stake other than the real”.23 And so, the Manichean Baudrillard rides the Gnostic drive to get out of matter and “not to be there but to see, like God” – a desire he calls “the most radical metaphysical desire, the deepest spiritual joy”.24   In all of this, he concentrates on the penultimate stage of Mani’s purification process, underlining “the inseparability of good and evil, and hence the impossibility of mobilizing the one without the other”.25  So, when it comes to September 11, Baudrillard offers us this Manichean metaphysics of terrorism:

Terrorism is immoral. The World Trade Centre event, that symbolic challenge, is immoral, and it is a response to a globalization which is itself immoral. So, let us be immoral; and if we want to have some understanding of all this, let us go and take a little look beyond Good and Evil. When, for once, we have an event that defies not just morality, but any form of interpretation, let us try to approach it with an understanding of Evil. This is precisely where the crucial point lies – in the total misunderstanding on the part of Western philosophy, on the part of the Enlightenment, of the relation between Good and Evil. We believe naively that the progress of Good, its advance in all fields (the sciences, technology, democracy, human rights), corresponds to a defeat of Evil. No one seems to have understood that Good and Evil advance together, as part of the same movement. The triumph of the one does not eclipse the other – far from it. In metaphysical terms, Evil is regarded as an accidental mishap, but this axiom, from which all the Manichean forms of the struggle of Good against Evil derive, is illusory. Good does not conquer Evil, nor indeed does the reverse happen: they are at once both irreducible to each other, and inextricably interrelated.26

                              

            Terrorism and its contemporary context are thus marked by moral ambiguity, according to the Gnostic Baudrillard. Even when the righteous go to war, they too risk being creators-and-destroyers: “a good resplendent with all the power of Evil”, wherein “the Good shines with the energy of Evil”.27  This is Baudrillard as the contemporary voice of the Cathari (pure ones) – a medieval sect inspired by Mani’s form of Gnosticism. The French Manicheans are also called Albigiensis (after Albi, a Manichean city in medieval France) or simply the Cathars. Baudrillard cites that sect while underlining the key Gnostic concept of illusion: “A principle of illusion – the concept of the world as the work of the devil and, at the same time, that of perfection achieved here on earth – are the two fundamental concepts of the Cathars”.28  Procreation, say the Manicheans, is “the most formidable device in Satan’s strategy” because it traps particles of Light in Evil matter.29 Thus, “some opposite demon of indifference, inertia and apathy” appeared unto Baudrillard after he admitted that: “my conceptual imagination came, at bottom, from my impotence and hereditary sterility”.30                                              

            An awareness of evil matter also shapes Baudrillard’s suggestion that the old Gnostics were terrorists insofar as “they based their theologies on the very negation of the real”.31 “Religion in its former heretical phase”, he explains, “was always a negation – at times a violent one – of the real world, and this is what gave it strength”.32 And strength of spirit was indeed needed by the French Manicheans who preceded Baudrillard. Hundreds were burnt alive for heresy during the Albigensian Crusades in the south of France (1208-1255). At the time, the metaphysical terrorism of the Cathari was met by actual terrorism sanctioned by the Church. For instance, 15,000 men, women and children were slain in Beziers when that Albigensian stronghold fell in 1209. Faced with the difficulty of telling Cathari from Catholics, the soldiers were told by the Papal Legate: “Kill them all – God will recognize His own”.33 

            The French Manicheans left a living legacy despite such brutal decimation. In short, the Gnostics went underground, fleeing into the peasant countryside to continue their faith in secret.34 As the Cathari were being slaughtered in the south, some of their Gnostic lore got smuggled into the Catholic north. For example, even Reims Cathedral (under construction during the Albigensian Crusades), contains a carved stone panel (two men falling from a lightning-struck tower) apparently taken from tarot images used in Cathari teaching.35

            In an interview with Caroline Bayard and Graham Knight, Baudrillard admits he is “an Albigiensis, yes a Manichean – certainly Manichean in The Transparency of Evil”, with that position arising from “a prophetic moralism…inherited from my ancestors, who were peasants”.36 It is therefore rather appropriate that Baudrillard is the one “many people think of as the high priest of postmodernism”.37 Baudrillard, however, is uncomfortable with that title, telling Gane: “this reference to priesthood is out of place, I think”. Furthermore: “one should ask whether postmodernism, the postmodern, has a meaning. It doesn’t as far as I am concerned. It’s an expression, a word which people use but which explains nothing”.38  Even so, Baudrillard has linked Nihilism or radical skepticism with postmodernism in [the] light of terrorism.39 This suggests he can be regarded as the high priest of postmodernism in a hitherto unexplored sense.  If postmodern philosophy is best described as a contemporary form of Skepticism, then Baudrillard is arguably the “high priest” or most inspired exponent of such thinking. He can be regarded as inspired because of the audacious way he blends Gnosticism and Skepticism into a form of Gnostic Nihilism.40 That daring blend drives Baudrillard’s “terrorist” philosophy, yet it sets him apart in the largely secular postmodern field. We can call that mix PyrrhoMania because of the way Baudrillard blends the Skepticism of Greek philosopher Pyrrho (360-270 BCE) with the Gnostic metaphysics of Persian prophet Mani (215-277 CE). An overview of how Baudrillard heard about Mani and Pyrrho can help us understand his Gnostic Nihilism.  
 

III. Mani’s Shadow, Pyrrho’s Echo

            The shadow of Mani lingers in Western thought, filtering down the centuries despite his cruel execution. Zoroastrian priests or Magi had Mani impaled as a heretic, probably because he deepened their dualism of Good and Evil with a Gnostic dualism of Spirit (Good) and Matter (Evil).41 Even so, Mani’s new religion spread, flourishing during the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. St. Augustine (354-430 CE) embraced Mani’s ideas for a while, before attacking them in his Confessions and other works.42 Later, Mani’s religion spread further West thanks to Bogomil, an Orthodox priest from Macedonia. His popular form of Manicheanism entered several European nations in the ninth century, lasting until the seventeenth century in some parts.43 A second wave of Manicheanism washed into Europe during the twelfth century, courtesy of crusaders and pilgrims returning from the Middle East.44

            That second wave is still being surfed today, thanks partly to French letters written on the beach of Western culture. In short, Baudrillard has channeled what Albert Camus (1913-1960) called: “the record of Gnostic effronteries and the persistence of Manichean currents”.45 Indeed, testing those currents seems quite a French thing. Georges Bataille (1897-1962) and Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), whom Baudrillard often cites, used Gnostic logic in their work, most notably in Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty.46 Earlier the skeptic Pierre Bayle (1647-1706) had helped revive Manicheanism by noting its merits, vis-à-vis the theodicy problem, in his Dictionnaire historique et critique (1697). And later,  Simone Weil (1909-1943) wrote: “the Manichean tradition is one of those in which you may be quite certain of finding some truth if you study it with sufficient piety and attention”.47 

            However, before Mani sought truth via metaphysics, Pyrrho doubted dogma and sought serenity via appearances.48 Here, it is interesting that Pyrrho developed his philosophy after meeting Magi in Persia.49  Pyrrho’s Skepticism did, in fact, become useful for spiritual purposes due to its emphasis on suspension of judgment (epoche) and the tranquility (ataraxia) that can follow.50 For example, some Gnostics after Pyrrho used a metaphysics of skepticism to prepare for God-given, meta-rational wisdom (gnosis).51 Baudrillard has apparently followed suit, producing PyrrhoMania to evoke a gnosis of pure appearance via epoche and ataraxia.  In short, the Gnostic Baudrillard draws upon Mani and Pyrrho to develop faith via mystery.52 And the Pyrrhonian revival in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries prepared the way for him.53 That revival undermined the logic of violent persecution by introducing skeptical argumentation into French letters.54                                                    

            The revival thus gave the Albigensian heresy a chance to live again in the likes of Baudrillard’s ancestors. The French Pyrrhonian revival also bequeathed to Baudrillard an arsenal of logical weapons for the liquidation of dogmatic knowledge and the anticipation of gnosis instead. Mani’s shadow, it seems, is called forth in Baudrillard by the echo of Pyrrho.  The Pyrrhonian method, recorded by Sextus Empiricus (2nd century CE) and Diogenes Laertius (3rd century CE), influenced the likes of Michel Montaigne (1533-1592) and Camus, both of whom Baudrillard read.55 That method involves what Montaigne called: “a pure, entire, and absolute suspension of judgment”.56 The method, Camus wrote, features: the feeling that all true knowledge is impossible, solely appearances can be enumerated.57 Baudrillard, however, entertains what Camus resisted:a skeptical metaphysics”.58 Furthermore, Baudrillard’s Albigensian faith contrasts with Montaigne’s condemnation of “heresy…and irreligious opinions, invented and brought up by false sects”.59 Then again, Montaigne also wrote On the Liberty of Conscience and “taught for the first time, or almost for the first time, in France, the innocence of error and the evil of persecution”.60 The irony in all of this was not lost on Camus: “Gnostic effronteries…have contributed more to the construction of orthodox dogma than all the prayers”.61 Such references indicate that the Pyrrhonian legacy in French letters includes an awareness of the Cathari tradition. Perhaps this persuaded Baudrillard to develop Gnostic Nihilism. He acknowledges his debt to both traditions, claiming that nihilist logic liberates us into “a more exciting world…a world where the name of the game remains secret”.62  Here we have Baudrillard’s version of what Eco calls a typical Gnostic calculus: skepticism + secrecy = liberation.63 In short, the high priest of postmodernism is a “terrorist and nihilist in theory” in order to glean a secret gnosis from such radical skepticism. This judgment is based on reading his texts and meeting the man.
 

IV. Gnostic Texts From a Manichean Man 

            As the heir of persecuted heretics, Baudrillard can be wary of scholars who look into his Gnosticism. For instance, when I asked him about his Manichean theme, he called it “very important”, but then quickly changed the subject.64 Later, when I mentioned my Gnostic Baudrillard research, he turned to Nicholas Zurbrugg and said: “This is a dangerous man!” Then, after questioning the Gnostic/Manichean linkage, Baudrillard said to me, “you do it”, and declined to be interviewed on the matter (March 22 2001, Hyatt Hotel, Auckland).  Here, Baudrillard’s responses are unsurprising, given his ambivalence concerning commentators.  Gane, for instance, quotes Baudrillard as confessing that: “the anxiety of any kind of commentary, even a favourable one, comes from the obscure sense of the skeletons in the cupboard”. Gane also notes: “there are still mysteries about him which have never been addressed”. Even so, Gane plays down the Manichean element in Baudrillard’s work, characterizing it as an occasional strategy.65 

            Contrary to Gane, I maintain that Manichean Gnosticism marks Baudrillard’s mature thought (at least his post-Marxist thinking after 1975). It has been a constant theme in his work ever since L’echange symbolique et la mort , where, for example, he notes Mani’s “very powerful vision” in light of the Freudian duality of Eros (sex) and Thanatos (death):

The irreducible duality of the two pulsions, Eros and Thanatos, reawakens the ancient Manichean version of the world, the endless antagonism of the twin principles of good and evil. This very powerful vision comes from the ancient cults where the basic intuition of a specificity of evil and death was still strong. This was unbearable to the Church, who will take centuries to exterminate it and impose the pre-eminent principle of the Good (God), reducing evil and death to a negative principle, dialectically subordinate to the other (the Devil). But there is always the nightmare of Lucifer’s autonomy, the Archangel of Evil (in all their forms, as popular heresies and superstitions that always have a tendency to take the existence of a principle of evil literally and hence to form cults around it, even including black magic and Jansenist theory, not to mention the Cathars), which will haunt the Church day and night. It opposes the dialectic as an institutional theory and as a deterrent to a radical, dualistic and Manichean concept of death.66

                                                      

This Manichean material is significant because it marks Baudrillard’s passage from Marxist to Gnostic thinking. In short, his post-Marxist thought is dualistic rather than dialectical. And the difference is crucial. In the former, irreducible opposites exist as eternal contradictions in what the Gnostic Baudrillard pun-fully calls “a duel and agonistic relation” that resists synthesis.67  Here, Manichean duality is not a binary opposition (Good/Evil) because Evil is not dialectically subordinate to Good (or vice versa). Neither is triumphant. Instead, Good and Evil are eternal antagonists in Manichean Gnosticism. “In every human action”, explains Baudrillard, “there are always two divinities doing battle; neither is defeated and the game has no end”.68  Consequently, he rejects Marx’s idea (adapted from Hegel) that the history of reality is dialectical: an ongoing movement of thesis-antithesis-synthesis that will eventually resolve all contradiction. Marx is mistaken, argues the Gnostic Baudrillard: “the world is not dialectical, it is sworn to extremes, not to equilibrium, sworn to radical antagonism, not to reconciliation or synthesis. This is also the principle of Evil”.69 This Manichean logic is evident in all of Baudrillard’s major texts since L’echange symbolique et la mort and is even apparent in his very early work. In L’Ange de Stuc, a poem dating from the 1950s, Baudrillard stresses the metaphysical precession of evil and apparently laments Mani as “this upright one” who perished “on this Persian stake”.70 Furthermore, in Les Romans d’Italo Calvino (1962), Baudrillard notes this about Calvino’s The Cloven Viscount: “the good half is revealed to be as injurious as the damned soul: evil exists in duality”.71 Santamaria thinks Baudrillard’s Manichean logic even contaminated his Marxian social semiotics in Le systeme des objets, La societe de consommation, Pour une critique de l’economie du Sign  and Le miroir de la production.72 Thereafter, Baudrillard developed his Gnostic theme in texts such as De la seduction, Les strategies fatales and The Evil Demon of Images. First presented as a lecture and follow-up interview for the University of Sydney, The Evil Demon of Images has been called “a little known text of Baudrillard’s, not quite part of his official oeuvre”.73 The Gnostic Baudrillard may not be the “official” one, but the blend of simulation and seduction in The Evil Demon of Images encapsulates his key premise: “for me the reality of the world has been seduced, and this is really what is so fundamentally Manichean in my work”.74 The book, in fact, is an early example of what Eco calls the Gnostic spirit in contemporary theory75.  In the interview section, Baudrillard discusses his Manichean hypothesis in light of Rene Descartes’ (1596-1650) famous thought experiment in Meditations on First Philosophy (1641): “some malicious demon of the utmost power and cunning has employed all his energies in order to deceive me”.76

            Given the persistence of Manichean currents in Western thought, Descartes may have designed his demon hypothesis to refute the Cathari heresy. If so, then Baudrillard’s reply to him has a special poignancy:

In the Cartesian project there is at least the inauguration of a rational principle. It is from this rational principle that the whole question of doubt arises. This doubt comes from the subject - as subject of knowledge, as subject of discourse...For me the question is totally different. When I evoke the principle of evil, of an evil demon etc., my aim is more closely related to a certain kind of Manicheanism. It is therefore anterior to Descartes, and fundamentally it is irrational. There are in fact two principles at stake: on the one hand there is the (Descartes’) rational principle or principle of rationality – the fundamental attempt, through doubt or anything else, to rationalize the world – and on the other hand there is the inverse principle, which was, for example, adopted by the “heretics” all the way throughout the history of Christianity. This is the principle of evil itself. What the heretics posited was that the very creation of the world, hence the reality of the world, was the result of the existence of the evil demon. The function of God, then, was really to try to repudiate this evil phantom – that was the real reason why God had to exist at all. So in this situation it is no longer a question of doubt or non-doubt, of whether one should exercise this doubt or whether this doubt could lead us to confirm or deny the existence of the world. Rather, it is once again the principle of seduction that needs to be invoked in this situation: according to Manicheanism the reality of the world is a total illusion; it is something which has been tainted from the very beginning; it is something which has been seduced by a sort of irreal principle since time immemorial…Nevertheless, one has to recognize the reality of the illusion; and one must play upon this illusion itself and the power that it exerts. This is where the Manichean element in my work comes in…This is the key to the whole position: the idea is that of a most fundamental and radical antagonism, of no possibility existing at all of reconciling the “illusion” of the world with the “reality” of the world… For me the reality of the world has been seduced, and this is really what is so fundamentally Manichean in my work. Like the Manicheans, I do not believe in the possibility of “real-ising” the world through any rational or materialist principle – hence the great difference between my work and the process of invoking radical doubt as in Descartes’.77

 

            Here we see Baudrillard’s PyrrhoMania in full cry. Does this text, in the context of his post-Marxist work, outline the first metaphysics of skepticism in modern Western philosophy? Baudrillard argues that we cannot get certain knowledge of the world by reconciling our rationality with reality. Why not? Well, because a demon has seduced reason and reality while creating them both, making them irreconcilable and thus rendering us incapable of knowing the truth about reality. Instead, we experience illusion or a play of reality between our flawed rationality and the mystery of the world due to the mediation of consciousness.  Here, reality mediated by thought and language arises from original seduction, evoking a “giddiness of simulation” that is “truly diabolical”.78 In other words: original simulation or a metaphysics of mediation premised on a demon creating our world, language and logic. After all, for Gnostics, the earth is “a screen upon which the Demiurge of the mind projects his deceptive system”.79 Baudrillard’s idea of original simulation has been largely ignored, however, with most scholars preferring his well-known three orders of simulacra as their Baudrillardean orthodoxy. Lane, for instance, re-presents that orthodoxy in the following fashion:

Baudrillard argues that there are three levels of simulation, where the first level is an obvious copy of reality and the second level is a copy so good that it blurs the boundaries between reality and representation. The third level is one which produces a reality of its own without being based upon any particular bit of the real world. The best example is probably “virtual reality”, which is a world generated by computer languages or code. Virtual reality is thus a world generated by mathematical models which are abstract entities. It is this third level of simulation, where the model comes before the constructed world, that Baudrillard calls the hyperreal.80

 

            Gane has extended that orthodoxy by offering a fourth order based on utter uncertainty.81 However, this emphasis on the “orders” ignores Baudrillard’s ongoing use of Manichean metaphysics to underpin (and undermine) simulation. From simulation, yet against simulation, he evokes the Pyrrhonian criterion of appearance in light of the Gnostic postulate of a demon creator who seduces our minds. Indeed, in Paroxysm: Interviews with Philippe Petit, Baudrillard puts those very cards on the table before admitting his penchant for Gnosticism:

There’s a moment when you can grasp the object or the world in terms of appearance, not in terms of the production of a world already fashioned in the image of thought… And when you think, it’s possible that in an almost occult way there’s a kind of principle of evil active behind that thinking, a demonic dimension… I wouldn’t have minded being Manichean, heretical and Gnostic. Why not? But I’ve never ventured to draw up a list of secret references.82

 

Baudrillard has carried his Gnostic Nihilism into the twenty-first century, with “Dual Principle, Single Principle, Antagonistic Principle” in Impossible Exchange being a good example. Even so, the paradox of PyrrhoMania must be untangled further to clarify his claim: “I am a terrorist and nihilist in theory as the others are with their weapons”.
 

V.  Logical Terror: Hypothesis and Reversibility

            At first, the theoretical terrorism of Baudrillard’s Gnostic Nihilism seems an unthinkable cocktail of ideas, even an undrinkable one. Has Baudrillard had too much to think? After all, how can a philosopher combine Pyrrho’s skeptical rationalism with Mani’s religious metaphysics? Surely the latter would be destroyed by the critical logic of the former. Not necessarily, argues Baudrillard. Here, everything rests on where one starts and, logically speaking, one can start anywhere, as Barnes has demonstrated in his analysis of Pyrrhonian Skepticism. In short: anything is possible in philosophy because everything depends on an argument’s first principle, starting point or hypothesis, regardless of one’s epistemic criterion.83 For his own philosophy, Baudrillard uses Mani’s vision to demonize Pyrrho’s logic – positing original seduction as his first principle. Here, Baudrillard reminds us that: “according to Manicheanism the reality of the world is a total illusion; it is something which has been tainted from the very beginning; it is something which has been seduced by a sort of irreal principle since time immemorial”.84

            Baudrillard describes this Manichean postulate as “an enthralling hypothesis”.85  With this, he interrogates the genesis of our doubts about truth and reality. Baudrillard suggests Pyrrho’s skeptical logic sprang from a metaphysical first cause of demonic temper. He even argues that the Infinite Logical Regress beneath first principles (stressed by Pyrrho) arose from original seduction. Pyrrho’s device has been called “the most celebrated of all skeptical manoeuvres”.86 It therefore warrants exposition in light of Baudrillard’s Manichean appropriation of it. Barnes cites Sextus’ account of the regress:

In the way deriving from infinite regress we say that what is brought forward as a warrant for the object proposed needs another warrant, which itself needs another, and so on ad infinitum; so that we have no point from which to begin to establish anything, and suspension of judgment follows.87

 

Pyrrho’s device is gnosticized by Baudrillard. He suggests that the Demon is in the Infinite Regress itself, with its genesis secreted away in the very infinity that bedevils our logic.88 In other words, Baudrillard uses skeptical logic to fire his Manichean metaphysics, as did some ancient Gnostics before him.89 The provocative logic of original seduction may not be open to empirical verification, but it has a certain internal consistency. After all, if a creator demon wanted to confound or seduce our logic from the very beginning, then an Infinite Logical Regress would be a damn good way to do that.

          Of course, that is a somewhat circular argument. Even so, we can ask: surely all arguments must eventually circle back to their assumptions for “final” logical justification, salvaged on the brink of infinite logical regress? Baudrillard is hardly alone in that.  Thus, he feels philosophically free to suggest that an evil demon of skepticism may have created our world, language and logic, including our capacity to doubt that idea and all other thoughts, proofs or truths. Here, we may reject Baudrillard’s Manichean hypothesis on moral grounds, but we cannot reject it on logical grounds. In short, disproving his hypothesis is apparently impossible. It remains a possibility. 

            Logical, but laughable, reply some critics. For instance, Eco parodies the Evil Demon of Infinite Regress by lampooning the “muddle-headed Demiurge who tried to say that ‘that’s that’ and on the contrary elicited an uninterrupted chain of infinite deferrals where ‘that’ is not ‘that’”.90  Baudrillard, however, can deflect such critique by arguing that parody also arises from original seduction, with “the evil demon of language” inspiring “the predestination of language to become nonsense from the instant it is caught in its own devices”. “Theory is, at any rate, destined to be diverted, deviated and manipulated”, he insists, concluding that: “for every thought, one must expect a strange tomorrow”.91    

           Here, Baudrillard notes the classic Gnostic theme of destiny.92 Evoking “the predestination of language to become nonsense” allows him to use Manichean Gnosticism for spiritual or aesthetic purposes without insisting it must be true. In short, Baudrillard drinks deeply from Mani’s cup, but follows Pyrrho’s advice: “we must not assume that what convinces us is actually true”.93 From there, he dares to construct what is arguably the first metaphysics of skepticism in modern Western philosophy. To set that up, he posits logical reversibility as the sharpest corollary of the diabolical Infinite Regress: 

The principle of reversibility, which is also the one of magic and seduction, requires that all that has been produced must be destroyed, and that which appears must disappear… It could almost be the sign of an original reversibility of things. One could maintain that before having been produced the world was seduced, that it exists, as all things and ourselves, only by virtue of having been seduced. Strange precession, which hangs over all reality to this day: the world has been refuted and led astray from the beginning... This original deviation is truly diabolical. The giddiness of simulation, the satanic ravishing of the eccentricity of the beginning and the end opposes itself to the utopia of the Last Judgement, complemented by the one of the original baptism. Our entire moral anthropology, spanning from Christianity to Rousseau, original sin to original innocence, is false. Original sin must be replaced, not by final salvation, nor innocence, but by original seduction… The reader will have realized how Manichean this theory is. To evoke seduction is to further our destiny as an object. To touch upon the object. To rouse the principle of Evil. Seduction is, therefore, ineluctable, and appearance always victorious. Of course we are witnessing a proliferation of systems of meaning and interpretation which seek to clear the path for a rational operation of the world... At the same time it is evident that all these systems are prevented from producing anything based on truth or objectivity. Deep down everything is already there, in this evil reversal – the impossibility for all systems to be founded on truth, to break open the secret and reveal whatever it may be. The discourse of truth is quite simply impossible. It eludes itself. Everything eludes itself, everything scoffs at its own truth, seduction renders everything elusive. The fury to unveil the truth, to get at the naked truth, the one which haunts all discourses of interpretation, the obscene rage to uncover the secret, is proportionate to the impossibility of ever achieving this. The more one nears truth, the more it retreats towards the omega point, and the greater becomes the rage to get at it. But this rage, this fury, only bears witness to the eternity of seduction and to the impossibility of mastering it.94

 

            The Pyrrhonian Baudrillard is surprisingly dogmatic in this proclamation of his Manichean metaphysics. He tries to rationalize that contradiction by suggesting original reversibility has stamped logical reversibility into all discourse via the Way of Infinite Regress and the related Way of Hypothesis. Here, Sextus and Diogenes provide Baudrillard with the formulae from which logical reversibility can be deduced: “We have the way from hypothesis when the dogmatists, being thrown back ad infinitum, begin from something which they do not establish but claim to assume simply and without proof in virtue of a concession”, notes Sextus95.  Diogenes identifies the key corollary of this classic skeptical point: “The mode resulting from hypothesis arises when people suppose that you must take the most elementary of things as of themselves entitled to credence, instead of postulating them: which is useless, because some one else will adopt the contrary hypothesis”.96 In other words: if first principles (and their contraries) are equally groundless (Infinite Regress), then those principles are also logically equivalent (i.e. the Regress flaws them all) and thus logically exchangeable or reversible. Here, first principles for particular things are logically baseless assumptions that function as cognitive simulation models.97 These models can produce internally consistent (even useful) discourse, but they remain vulnerable to reversibility thanks to the Infinite Logical Regress.

            In short, when it comes to first principles, Diogenes was apparently correct: “some one else will adopt the contrary hypothesis” (or is logically able to do so). For example, Baudrillard in Simulations reckons explanations of bombings in Italy are exchangeable (i.e. reversible) because they arise from equivalent simulation models (i.e. none can be finally proved): 

Is any given bombing in Italy the work of leftist extremists, or of extreme right-wing provocation, or staged by centrists to bring every terrorist extreme into disrepute and to shore up its own failing power, or again, is it a police-inspired scenario in order to appeal to public security? All this is equally true, and the search for proof, indeed the objectivity of the fact does not check this vertigo of interpretation. We are in a logic of simulation which has nothing to do with a logic of facts and an order of reasons. Simulation is characterized by a precession of the model, of all models around the merest fact – the models come first, and their orbital (like the bomb) circulation constitutes the genuine magnetic field of events. Facts no longer have any trajectory of their own, they arise at the intersection of the models; a single fact may even be engendered by all the models at once. This anticipation, this precession, this short-circuit, this confusion of the fact with its model… is what each time allows for all the possible interpretations, even the most contradictory – all are true, in the sense that their truth is exchangeable, in the image of the models from which they proceed.98

 

            This is a classic piece of Pyrrhonian reasoning. Equivalence and reversibility are used here to underline the model-driven nature of interpretation of bombing, exposing their uncertainty as simulations. Even so, Baudrillard equips his skeptical ship with an ontological anchor, albeit an indeterminate one. He notes “the objectivity of the fact”, but insists that a bombing still gets drawn into the “vertigo of interpretation”. In short, he is arguing that the truth of an event is never theory-neutral – it depends on interpretation and we interpret using assumption-driven models. Furthermore, “all the possible interpretations” of “any given bombing in Italy” are “equally true – even the most contradictory”. Why? Because: “their truth is exchangeable in the image of the models from which they proceed”. This boils down to saying that all model-driven stories about something (e.g. a bombing) are interchangeable because “the image of the models” is logical equivalence (i.e. all the models are flawed by the Infinite Regress). Here, one bombing story is as logically “good” as another, provided each story avoids internal contradiction.

            The Gnostic Baudrillard calls this logical anomaly “the evil demon of commutation”.99  Of course, like every other first principle, Baudrillard’s idea of original seduction (and original reversibility) is itself subject to an infinite logical regress (and reversibility). This suggests his philosophy is cruelled by contradiction and prone to self-refutation, as Norris charges.100 If that is so, must Baudrillard be outcast in his logical rags from the House of Philosophy? Not quite. After all, his PyrrhoMania is premised on eternal contradiction (Good and Evil) and can thus retain internal consistency via its own dualistic/non-dialectical logic. “What we have here”, explains Santamaria: “is an intemperate and perhaps even perverse rationalism: the whole work is developed within the presupposition of dualism”.101 In other words: if contradiction is cosmic, then the Manichean Baudrillard can turn self-refutation into a Gnostic virtue. Indeed, he argues that: “the only genuine function of the intellect is to embrace contradictions, to exercise irony, to take the opposite tack, to exploit rifts and reversibility – even to fly in the face of the lawful and the factual”.102 Here, Baudrillard may be taking his cue from Camus: “contradiction is perhaps the most subtle of all spiritual forces”.103 And so, we come to the telos of his philosophy of terrorism: pure appearance or “the ephemeral moment in which things take the time to appear before taking on meaning or value”.104
 

VI. Pure Appearance via Symbolic Exchange

            Pure appearance is one of the least understood of Baudrillard’s ideas. Kellner, for instance, reckons: “it is never clear in Baudrillard’s writing what a ‘pure event’ would be”. Kellner cannot be clear because he thinks Baudrillard deals in binary oppositions and can be dismissed as “the Walt Disney of contemporary metaphysics”.105  Kellner misses Baudrillard’s use of dualistic discourse to approach pure appearance via symbolic exchange (i.e. using signs ecstatically to challenge signified reality and thereby go beyond it).  Ecstasy anticipates “the magic of a ‘liberation’ of an original force”, explains Baudrillard, comparing such poetics with “Artaud’s often shocking affinity with magic and exorcism, and even, in Heliogabale, with orgiastic mysticism”.106 In short, the non-dialectical practice of symbolic exchange involves duels with, yet beyond, signs during thinking, ritual or ceremony. 

            Such duels involve “an act of exchange and a social relation which puts an end to the real” or the real as constructed by binary signs. Here, “the effect of the real is only ever the structural effect of the disjunction between two terms”, explains Baudrillard, “and our famous reality principle, with its normative and repressive implications, is only a generalization of this disjunctive code to all levels”.107  As a counter-punch against this code, rituals of symbolic exchange use a dualistic matrix to move adepts beyond a reality ruled by dialectical binary signs.

            These rituals of symbolic exchange are apparently a way to move from matter to spirit via a secret gnosis of pure appearance. Here, “the magic rituals of the seduction of the world” feature “Manichean or revolutionary denials of the real world”, explains the Gnostic Baudrillard.108 Such rituals, he adds, are aimed at “a mastery of pure appearances” and involve “cruel, rigorous forms of the sign in its pure functioning”. In these rituals, both “the real” and “the logic of meaning” are challenged in a “demiurgic” fashion via “thousands of pure signs” and “the connection of signs in ceremony”.109

            In short, Baudrillard regards symbolic exchange as an “Anti-Materialist Theory of Language”. “There is no materialist reference in the symbolic operation”, he explains, “not even an ‘unconscious’ one; rather there is the operation of an anti-matter”.110 This manifestly Gnostic discourse features a double spiral of signs and symbols. Baudrillard explains this by summarizing his move from Marxism to Manicheanism:

The movement is one that counters an order of simulation; it is a system of distinctive oppositions regulating a meaning, and a movement striving to restore a symbolic order assimilated to a superior authenticity of exchanges. This double spiral moves from Le Systeme des Objets to the Fatal Strategies: a spiral swerving towards a sphere of the sign, the simulacrum and simulation, a spiral of the reversibility of all signs in the shadow of seduction and death. The two paradigms are diversified in the course of this spiral without altering their antagonistic position. On the one hand: political economy, production, the code, the system, simulation. On the other hand: potlatch, expenditure, sacrifice, death, the feminine, seduction, and, in the end, the fatal.111

 

Here, Baudrillard draws upon the anthropology of Marcel Mauss, (1872-1950), especially his analysis of tribal potlatch. In the latter, excessively generous gifts are exchanged and then destroyed in mutual challenges marked by what Genosko calls “the principles of rivalry and antagonism”. Furthermore, Baudrillard’s potlatch is a kind of “postmodern ceremony” that highlights “Mauss’s understanding of the gift as a spiritual mechanism”.112  So, in the double spiral, a Manichean model drives Baudrillard’s potlatch: the signs and symbols are in an antagonistic nexus of challenge, duel and seduction.

            “The entire strategy of seduction”, Baudrillard explains, “is to bring things to a state of pure appearance, to make them radiate and wear themselves out in the game of appearances (but the game has its rule and its possibly rigorous ritual)”.113  One such rule is terrorism, with Baudrillard inscribing it as: “a ritual, or that which, of all possible events, opposes to the political and historical model or order the purest symbolic form of challenge”.114  Baudrillard’s philosophy of terrorism is therefore linked to his Manichean view that theory is a challenge to reality and God. Here, “theory is… both simulation and challenge”.115  And here, challenge = seduction, with seduction being a sort of simulation that plays with illusion and thereby seeks to “put the real, quite simply, on the spot”.116 Thus:

God...the law, the truth, the unconscious, the real. All these things only exist in the brief instant when one challenges them to exist; they exist only by virtue of this challenge to which we call them, precisely through seduction, which opens the sublime abyss before them – the abyss into which they will plunge ceaselessly in a last glimmer of reality”.117

 

            In short: seduction is simulation as magic. And Baudrillard sometimes admits this.118 The older Gnostics also used magic to speed “the soul’s way out of the world”.119  Is such sorcery Baudrillard’s “skeleton in the cupboard”? After all, noted Morris, Baudrillard suggests “the referent may be the future of a sign, not its ‘proof’, not its past, not its cause”. In short, he tells “a magic story: the object is conjured, not caught or revealed”.120 Wernick agrees: “premised on the understanding that simulacra precede the real”, Baudrillard’s project “is well-nigh magical”.121

            Seduction as magical simulation, theory as challenge, or theory as “an event in the universe it describes” is also regarded by Baudrillard as an “exorcism” of reality.122  Here, “seduction always seeks to overturn and exorcize a power” while “simulation is the exorcism of the terror of illusion”.123  And so, Baudrillard’s double spiral is apparently an attempt to out-seduce diabolical reality, with the man gnosticizing Pyrrho’s criterion of appearances and deploying an ecstatic form of simulation (i.e. seduction) to challenge reality (and God) into pure appearance via symbolic exchange. “Seduction”, insists Baudrillard, “lies in the transformation of things into pure appearances”.124

            “What interests me”, he explains, “is the possibility of a pure event, an event that can no longer be manipulated, interpreted, or deciphered”.125 With the Paris protests of May 1968 in mind, Baudrillard argues that pure appearance is “far beyond any rational finality” because it involves “a kind of pure object or event” – i.e. an event that “remains indecipherable” and is therefore “impossible to rationalize”.126 This desire to discern things without simulation or interpretation is apparently a quest for gnosis or what Eco calls “a meta-rational, intuitive knowledge”.127  Thus, when it comes to September 11, the Gnostic Baudrillard reckons we should resist being “buried beneath a welter of words” and instead focus on: “preserving intact the unforgettable incandescence of the images”, thereby retaining those jets-into-skyscrapers as “the absolute event, the mother of all events, the pure event”. For Baudrillard, “the terrorist attack corresponded to a precedence of the event over all interpretative models”. As such, September 11 is “an irreducible singularity” – beyond simulation – and this is why “no ideology, no cause – not even the Islamic cause – can account for the energy which fuels terror”.128

            Here, Baudrillard expands on an earlier analysis of terrorism within In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. In that text, terrorism is marked as “our Theatre of Cruelty, the only one that remains to us, perhaps equal in every respect to that of Artaud…and extraordinary in that it brings together the spectacular and the challenge at their highest point”. Terrorism is thus valorized as a kind of Gnostic ritual that “opposes to every event said to be real the purest form of the spectacular”. And once televised, we see terrorism’s “strange mixture of the symbolic and the spectacular, of challenge and simulation”, with that quality being “the only original form of our time and subversive because insoluble”.129

             All this suggests that pure appearance involves receiving a gnosis via simulation, yet fatal to simulation. “Whatever reaches the level of pure appearance – a person, an event, an act – enters the realm of the fatal. It cannot be deciphered or interpreted”, insists Baudrillard. “The subject has nothing to say about it”, he adds, because “events emerge from any and every place, but from an absolute beyond, with that true strangeness which alone is fascinating”.130

           Here, the “absolute beyond” sought in symbolic exchange is apparently achieved via “the ephemeral moment in which things take the time to appear before taking on meaning or value”. If that is possible, such moments may be rather God-like. Indeed, that is apparently what the Gnostic Baudrillard seeks as the ultimate telos of pure appearance. For instance, he suggests that such moments involve eluding diabolical existence by becoming like God:

What is the most radical metaphysical desire, the deepest spiritual joy? Not to be there, but to see. Like God.  For God, precisely, does not exist, and this enables him to watch the world in his absence. We too would love, above all, to expunge man from the world in order to see it in its original purity. We glimpse, in this, an inhuman possibility, which would restore the pluperfect form of the world, without the illusion of the mind or even that of the senses. An exact and inhuman hyperreality, where we could at last delight in our absence and the dizzying joys of disincarnation. If I can see the world after the point of my disappearance, that means I am immortal.131

 

            This clearly Manichean discourse suggests that pure appearance is the paradoxical Gnostic project of accessing a divine secret from before original seduction, yet via it, while awaiting the Third Epoch restoration promised by Mani: the re-separation of Good and Evil. Here, “the dizzying joys of disincarnation” that “defy the gravity of existence” and “restore the pluperfect form of the world” may be sought via “the will of God” or “crime”.132  Both options involve the classic Gnostic rejection of world, morality and law as diabolical.133 And so, the Gnostic Baudrillard glorifies terrorism as a challenging repudiation of reality.  In other words, this Manichean man is a kind of metaphysical poker player who raises the ontological stakes to out-bid the demon and exorcize it from reality. Thus, in seeking pure appearance, he uses “stakes and challenges, summoning and bluffing” to open up “symbolic circuits of unmediated and immoderate bidding which concern the seduction of the order of things”.134  Punting on a secret is also apparent in an exchange between Baudrillard and Lotringer in Forget Baudrillard. At one point in that interview Lotringer says: “there is a high price to pay in terms of emptiness and disenchantment” for “all the seduction, and the sadness, of nihilism”. And Baudrillard replies:

It is true that logic only leads to disenchantment. We can't avoid going a long way with negativity, with nihilism and all. But then don't you think a more exciting world opens up? Not a more reassuring world, but certainly more thrilling, a world where the name of the game remains secret. A world ruled by reversibility and indetermination.135

 

Here, we must remember that a key characteristic of Gnosticism is “the syndrome of the secret”136 or what Barthes calls “the age-old struggle between a secret and an utterance”.137  “There is something secret in appearances, precisely because they do not readily lend themselves to interpretation”, insists the Gnostic Baudrillard, adding that: “I am merely seeking to regain a space for the secret, seduction being simply that which lets appearance circulate and move as a secret”.138 

            Even so, the Gnostic romance of pure appearance cannot entirely elude the rigors of Pyrrhonian logic. For instance, it seems “the ephemeral moment in which things take the time to appear before taking on meaning or value” cannot be discerned as such without referring to some model and thus simulating the moment in a circular fashion. With gnosis so prone to simulation, Baudrillard went mad once after a logical giddiness “ended up taking hold of me”.139  Seeking gnosis, yet sucked into simulation, he speaks of suffering some kind of breakdown:

I stopped working on simulation. I felt I was going totally nuts. Finally, by various paths, all this came to have extremely direct consequences on my life. It seemed logical that something would happen, an event of this kind – but I began to wonder what theory had to do with all this. There is in theories something which does away with the feeling of being ‘unstuck’. But what theory brings back on the other hand, to re-accentuate it, pervert it - in the full sense of the word – I’d rather not know about.140

 

            Baudrillard also came to realize that his gamble on pure appearance is cruelled by its corollary: the requirement of becoming a pure object.141  He admits this metaphysical failure in a poignant passage:

Is there any point in waging on the geniality of the Object, or is this “fatal strategy” only a blind bid of the subject, a negation of the real, a plunge into artificial ecstasy? How could the subject dream of leaping over its own shadow, and of sinking into the perfect silence and destiny of stones, beasts, masks and stars? It cannot rid itself of language, of desire, or of its own image, because the object only exists in that it is designated and desired by the subject.142

 

In short, if seduction is simulation too, then: “there is no longer any symbolic referent to the challenge of signs”.143  And so, Baudrillard’s philosophy of terrorism seeking pure appearance ends up being just another simulation, albeit an ecstatic one. And of course this study is a further simulation: a Gnostic Nihilist map preceding a re-reading of Baudrillard’s post-Marxist territory as terrorist. Even so, it is a useful map for exploring his Manichean critique of contemporary image-based epistemology.

            Ocular technologies, according to this critique, promise us more truth, even knowledge of Evil, but fall prey to simulation via an aesthetic imperative.  Violence, for instance, has been increasingly visualized – even beautified – in recent years via slow motion, zoom and simulation techniques.144 And we consume it, like spectators in some digital Coliseum, while our cultural Caesars calibrate ever more hyper-real simulations of slaughter. The film Gladiator (2000) is an obvious example, but Hannibal “the cannibal” Lector in Silence of the Lambs (1991) is a more telling instance of what Baudrillard calls the “programmatic resurrection of all that was once accursed”.145  Is such consumption consent? Baudrillard thinks so, arguing that our consumption and consent are fuelled by a desire to destroy power, especially American hegemonic power. “Countless disaster movies bear witness to this fantasy”, he insists, with September 11 consumed as “this Manhattan disaster movie”.146

          In short, he reckons bin Laden and his agents gave us what we want via those images of jets-into-skyscrapers.  “At a pinch, we can say that they did it, but we wished for it…without this deep-seated complicity, the event would not have had the resonance it has, and in their symbolic strategy the terrorists doubtless know that they can count on this unavowable complicity”.147  We are complicit, Baudrillard suggests, because ocular simulation (i.e. facts preceded by images of them) has seduced us into a new scenario: aesthetics now dominates our ethics and epistemology.148 So, after the spectacular catastrophe of September 11, we must ask: will terrorism become beautiful too? And if so, can we live happily ever after?149


Jonathan Thomas Smith: teaches Philosophy, Cultural Studies and Communication Studies at RMIT University where he received his PhD in 2000 for a thesis on Baudrillard called Seduction Ethics. Before entering Academia in 1993, he worked as a journalist, including time in Northern Ireland (1981-1983), Lebanon (1983), Uganda (1987), Ethiopia (1988) and Sudan (1991).


Endnotes:  
 

1 Jean Baudrillard. Impossible Exchange. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2001:90.

2 Charles Levin. Jean Baudrillard: A Study In Cultural Metaphysics. New York: Prentice Hall, 1996:270.

3 Ulysses Santamaria. “Jean Baudrillard: Critique of a Critique”. Translated by Jeremy Macdonald in Critique of Anthropology, Volume 4, Numbers 13-14, 1979:192-193.

4 See Paul Foss. “Despero Ergo Sum” in Frankovits, A. (Ed.), Seduced and Abandoned: The Baudrillard Scene, Glebe: Stonemoss Services, 1984: 12, 15., and Meagan Morris. “Room 101 or a Few Worst Things in the World” in Frankovits, 1984:92-96.

5 See Andrew Wernick. “Post-Marx: Theological Themes in Baudrillard's America”, In Philippa Berry and Andrew Wernick (Eds.), Shadow of Spirit: Postmodernism and Religion. London: Routledge, 1992:63; Gary Genosko. Baudrillard and Signs: Signification Ablaze. London: Routledge, 1994:31;  Andrew Wernick. “Jean Baudrillard: Seducing God”, in Phillip Blond (Ed.) Post-Secular Philosophy: Between Philosophy and Theology. London: Routledge, 1998: 357-358; Alan Cholodenko. “The Logic of Delirium, or the Fatal Strategies of Antonin Artaud and Jean Baudrillard”, In Edward Scheer (Ed.), 100 Years of Cruelty: Essays on Artaud. Sydney: Power Publications and Artspace, 2000:155-156; and Fred Botting, “Bataille, Baudrillard and Postmodern Gothic”, in Southern Review, Volume 27, Number 4, December 1994:495-499.

6 Jean Baudrillard. Simulacra and Simulation. Translated by Sheila Faria Glaser, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994:163.

7 Jean Baudrillard. Symbolic Exchange and Death. Translated by Iain Hamilton Grant. London: Sage Publications, 1993:69.

8 Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism and Requiem for the Twin Towers. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2002:13.

9 Jean Baudrillard. The Evil Demon of Images. Translated by Paul Patton, Paul Foss and Philippe Tanguy. Sydney: Power Publications, 1987:44.

10 Hans Jonas. The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity (2nd Ed). Boston: Beacon Press, 1963:209.

11 J.R. Aherne. “Manichaeism” in Paul Kevin Meagher (Ed.), Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion (Volume F-N). Washington: Corpus Publication, 1979:2231.

12 Jean Baudrillard. “Forget Baudrillard” in Forget Foucault. Translated by Phil Beitchman, Lee Hildreth, and Mark Polizzotti.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1987:98.

13 Umberto Eco. ”Interpretation and history”. In Stefan Collini (Ed.), Interpretation and Overinterpretation. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1992:36.

14Mike Gane (Ed). Baudrillard Live: Selected Interviews. London: Routledge, 1993:139-140, 176-177, 184.

15 Umberto Eco. ”Interpretation and history”. In Stefan Collini (Ed.), Interpretation and Overinterpretation. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1992:36.

16 Hans Jonas. The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity (2nd Ed). Boston: Beacon Press, 1963:233-234.

17 Jean Baudrillard. The Perfect Crime. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 1996: 38.

18 Jean Baudrillard. The Evil Demon of Images. Translated by Paul Patton, Paul Foss and Philippe Tanguy. Sydney: Power Publications, 1987:26. 

19 Jean Baudrillard. “Forget Baudrillard” in Forget Foucault. Translated by Phil Beitchman, Lee Hildreth, and Mark Polizzotti.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1987:88.

20 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988:62.

21 Jean Baudrillard. In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. Translated by Paul Foss, John Johnston, and Paul Patton, Semiotext(e), New York, 1983:114.

22 Jean Baudrillard. “Forget Baudrillard” in Forget Foucault. Translated by Phil Beitchman, Lee Hildreth, and Mark Polizzotti.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1987:88-89.

23 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988:70.

24 Jean Baudrillard. The Perfect Crime. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 1996:38.

25 Jean Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena. Translated by James Benedict. London: Verso, 1993:105.

26 Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism and Requiem for the Twin Towers. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2002:13.

27 Jean Baudrillard. Fatal Strategies. Translated by Philip Beitchman and W.G.J. Niesluchowski and Edited by Jim Fleming. New York: Semiotext(e), 1990:10, 52.

28 Jean Baudrillard. The Perfect Crime. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 1996:82.

29 Hans Jonas. The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity (2nd Ed). Boston: Beacon Press, 1963:228.

30 Jean Baudrillard. Cool Memories II. Translated by Chris Turner. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1996:8.

31 Jean Baudrillard. The Evil Demon of Images. Translated by Paul Patton, Paul Foss and Philippe Tanguy. Sydney: Power Publications, 1987:44.

32 Jean Baudrillard. “Forget Baudrillard” in Forget Foucault. Translated by Phil Beitchman, Lee Hildreth, and Mark Polizzotti.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1987:124.

33 Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. The Inquisition. London: Penguin, 2000:12.

34 Ibid.:13.

35 Barbara G. Walker. The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983:977, 984.

36 Caroline Bayard and Graham Knight, “Vivisecting the 90s: An Interview with Jean Baudrillard”, http://www.ctheory.com/a24-vivisecting_90s.html

37 Mike Gane (Ed). Baudrillard Live: Selected Interviews. London: Routledge, 1993:21.

38  Ibid.

39 Jean Baudrillard. Simulacra and Simulation. Translated by Sheila Faria Glaser, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994:160-164.

40 See for example: Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988:57-75. 

41 R.C. Zaehner. The Teachings of the Magi. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1956:54.

42 Augustine. The Confessions. Translated by F.J. Sheed. London: Sheed & Ward, 1949:35-41, 64-69, 103-107.

43 G. Eldarov. “Bogomils”. In Paul Kevin Meagher (Ed.), Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion (Volume A-E), Washington: Corpus Publication, 1979:481-482.

44 C.J. Lynch. “Cathari”. In Ibid.:660-661.

45 Albert Camus. The Myth of Sisyphus. Translated by Justin O’Brien. London: Penguin, 2000:102.

46 See Antonin Artaud. The Theatre and Its Double. Translated by Mary Caroline Richards. New York: Grove, 1958:102-104; Georges Bataille. Theory of Religion. Translated by Robert Hurley. New York: Zone, 1989:69-97.

47 Simone Weil. Letter to a Priest. Translated by Arthur Wills.  London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1953:41.

48 Diogenes Laertius.  “Pyrrho” In Henderson J. (Ed.), Lives of Eminent Philosophers (Volume II), Translated by R.D.Hicks.  The Loeb Classical Library, Number 185. Harvard University Press, 2000: 515-519.

49 Ibid.:475.

50 Richard. H. Popkin. The History of Skepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979: xv-xvi.

51 Hans Jonas. The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity (2nd Ed). Boston: Beacon Press, 1963:272.

52 Jean Baudrillard. Seduction. Translated by Brian Singer. New York: St Martin's Press, 1990:142.

53 Richard. H. Popkin. The History of Skepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979:xvi-xviii.

54 William Lecky. History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe (Volume II). London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1882:57-64.

55 Jean Baudrillard. The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena. Translated by James Benedict. London: Verso, 1993:189-190 fn. 22.

56 Michael Montaigne. “An Apology of Raymond Sebond”. In The Essayes of Michael Lord of Montaigne (Volume II). Translated by John Florio. London: Oxford University Press, 1906:232.

57 Albert Camus. The Myth of Sisyphus. Translated by Justin O’Brien. London: Penguin, 2000:18.

58 Ibid.:54.

59 Michael Montaigne. “An Apology of Raymond Sebond”. In The Essayes of Michael Lord of Montaigne (Volume II). Translated by John Florio. London: Oxford University Press, 1906:233-234.

60 William Lecky. History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe (Volume II). London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1882:58.

61 Albert Camus. The Myth of Sisyphus. Translated by Justin O’Brien. London: Penguin, 2000:102-103.

62 Jean Baudrillard. “Forget Baudrillard” in Forget Foucault. Translated by Phil Beitchman, Lee Hildreth, and Mark Polizzotti.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1987:71.

63 Umberto Eco. ”Interpretation and history”. In Stefan Collini (Ed.), Interpretation and Overinterpretation. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1992:30-32, 38.

64 Conversation of March 20, 2001 at George Fraser Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand.

65 Mike Gane. Jean Baudrillard: In Radical Uncertainty. London: Pluto Press, 2000:24, 28, 32.

66 Jean Baudrillard. Symbolic Exchange and Death. Translated by Iain Hamilton Grant. London: Sage Publications, 1993:149.

67 Jean Baudrillard. Seduction. Translated by Brian Singer. New York: St Martin's Press, 1990:105.

68 Jean Baudrillard. Impossible Exchange. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2001:100.

69 Jean Baudrillard. Fatal Strategies. Translated by Philip Beitchman and W.G.J. Niesluchowski and Edited by Jim Fleming. New York: Semiotext(e), 1990:7.

70 Jean Baudrillard. “Stucco Angel” Translated by Sophie Thomas. In Gary Genosko (Ed.), The Uncollected Baudrillard. London: Sage, 2001:6, 78.

71 Jean Baudrillard. “The Novels of Italo Calvino” in Ibid.:13.

72 Ulysses Santamaria. “Jean Baudrillard: Critique of a Critique”. Translated by Jeremy Macdonald in Critique of Anthropology (Volume 4, Numbers 13-14), 1979:192-195.

73 Rex Butler. Jean Baudrillard: The Defence of the Real. London: Sage, 1999:141.

74 Jean Baudrillard. The Evil Demon of Images. Translated by Paul Patton, Paul Foss and Philippe Tanguy. Sydney: Power Publications, 1987:46.

75 Umberto Eco. ”Interpretation and history”. In Stefan Collini (Ed.), Interpretation and Overinterpretation. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1992:38-39.

76 Rene Descartes. Meditations on First Philosophy. Translated by John Cottingham and With An Introduction by Bernard Williams. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1986:15.

77 Jean Baudrillard. The Evil Demon of Images. Translated by Paul Patton, Paul Foss and Philippe Tanguy. Sydney: Power Publications, 1987:44-46.

78 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. Semiotext(e), 1988:72.

79 Stephen Hoeller. The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1982:15.

80 Richard Lane. Jean Baudrillard. London: Routledge, 2000:30.

81 Mike Gane. Jean Baudrillard: In Radical Uncertainty. London: Pluto Press, 2000:57-64.

82 Jean Baudrillard. Paroxysm: Interviews with Philippe Petit. Translated by Chris Turner. London:  Verso, 1998:36-37, 46.

83 Jonathan Barnes. “Some Ways of Skepticism”. In Stephen Everson (Ed.), Epistemology. Cambridge University Press, 1990:211-212, 215-219.

84 Jean Baudrillard. The Evil Demon of Images. Translated by Paul Patton, Paul Foss and Philippe Tanguy. Sydney: Power Publications, 1987:44.

85 Jean Baudrillard. The Perfect Crime. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 1996:51.

86 Jonathan Barnes. “Some Ways of Skepticism”. In Stephen Everson (Ed.), Epistemology. Cambridge University Press, 1990:209.

87 Ibid.:205.

88 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988:73-74.

89 Hans Jonas. The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity (2nd Ed). Boston: Beacon Press, 1963:272.

90 Umberto Eco. ”Interpretation and history”. In Stefan Collini (Ed.), Interpretation and Overinterpretation. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1992:39.

91 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988: 84, 99-100.

92 Hans Jonas. The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity (2nd Ed). Boston: Beacon Press, 1963:250-253.

93 Diogenes Laertius.  “Pyrrho” In Henderson J. (Ed.), Lives of Eminent Philosophers (Volume II), Translated by R.D.Hicks.  The Loeb Classical Library, Number 185. Harvard University Press, 2000:505.

94 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988:71-74.

95 Jonathan Barnes. “Some Ways of Skepticism”. In Stephen Everson (Ed.), Epistemology. Cambridge University Press, 1990:205.

96 Diogenes Laertius.  “Pyrrho” In Henderson J. (Ed.), Lives of Eminent Philosophers (Volume II), Translated by R.D.Hicks.  The Loeb Classical Library, Number 185. Harvard University Press, 2000:501.

97 Jean Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena. Translated by James Benedict. London: Verso, 1993:105.

98 Jean Baudrillard. Simulations. Translated by Paul Foss, Paul Patton, and Philip Beitchman. New York: Semiotext(e), 1983:31-32.

99 Ibid.:35.

100 Christopher Norris. “‘Lost in the Funhouse: Baudrillard and the Politics of Postmodernism”. In Boyne, R. and Rattansi, A. (Eds.) Postmodernism and Society. London: McMillan, 1990:141-142.

101 Ulysses Santamaria. “Jean Baudrillard: Critique of a Critique”. Translated by Jeremy Macdonald in Critique of Anthropology (Volume 4, Numbers 13-14), 1979:193.

102 Jean Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena. Translated by James Benedict. London: Verso, 1993:39.

103 Albert Camus. The Myth of Sisyphus. Translated by Justin O’Brien. London: Penguin, 2000:63.

104 Jean Baudrillard. “Forget Baudrillard” in Forget Foucault. Translated by Phil Beitchman, Lee Hildreth, and Mark Polizzotti.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1987:88.

105 Douglas Kellner. Jean Baudrillard : From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond. Stanford University Press, 1989:174, 179.

106 Jean Baudrillard. Symbolic Exchange and Death. Translated by Iain Hamilton Grant. London: Sage Publications, 1993:235.

107 Ibid.:133.

108 Jean Baudrillard. Fatal Strategies. Translated by Philip Beitchman and W.G.J. Niesluchowski and Edited by Jim Fleming. New York: Semiotext(e), 1990:104.

109 Ibid.:104, 170.

110 Jean Baudrillard. Symbolic Exchange and Death. Translated by Iain Hamilton Grant. London: Sage Publications, 1993:233, 236.

111 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988:79.

112 Gary Genosko. Baudrillard and Signs: Signification Ablaze. London: Routledge, 1994:11.

113 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988:62.

114 Jean Baudrillard. In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. Translated by Paul Foss, John Johnston, and Paul Patton, Semiotext(e), New York, 1983:114.

115 Jean Baudrillard. “Forget Baudrillard” in Forget Foucault. Translated by Phil Beitchman, Lee Hildreth, and Mark Polizzotti.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1987:133.

116 Jean Baudrillard. The Evil Demon of Images. Translated by Paul Patton, Paul Foss and Philippe Tanguy. Sydney: Power Publications, 1987:44-46.

117 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York:  Semiotext(e), 1988:69.

118 Jean Baudrillard.  The Evil Demon of Images. Translated by Paul Patton, Paul Foss and Philippe Tanguy. Sydney: Power Publications, 1987:13-21, 43-47.

119 Hans Jonas. The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity (2nd Ed). Boston: Beacon Press, 1963:45.

120 Meagan Morris. “Room 101 or a Few Worst Things in the World” in Frankovits, A. (Ed.), Seduced and Abandoned: The Baudrillard Scene, Glebe: Stonemoss Services, 1984:96, 101.

121 Andrew Wernick. “Post-Marx: Theological Themes in Baudrillard's America. In Philippa Berry and Andrew Wernick (Eds.), Shadow of Spirit: Postmodernism and Religion. London: Routledge, 1992:68.

122 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988:99-100.

123 Jean Baudrillard. Seduction. Translated by Brian Singer. New York: St Martin's Press, 1990:87; Mike Gane (Ed). Baudrillard Live: Selected Interviews. London: Routledge, 1993:184.

124 Jean Baudrillard. Seduction. Translated by Brian Singer. New York: St Martin's Press, 1990:117.

125 Jean Baudrillard. “Forget Baudrillard” in Forget Foucault. Translated by Phil Beitchman, Lee Hildreth, and Mark Polizzotti.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1987:70.

126 Ibid.:113-115.

127 Umberto Eco. ”Interpretation and history”. In Stefan Collini (Ed.), Interpretation and Overinterpretation. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1992:35.

128 Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism and Requiem for the Twin Towers. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2002:4, 34, 9-10.

129 Jean Baudrillard. In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. Translated by Paul Foss, John Johnston, and Paul Patton, Semiotext(e), New York, 1983:114-115.

130 Jean Baudrillard. “Forget Baudrillard” in Forget Foucault. Translated by Phil Beitchman, Lee Hildreth, and Mark Polizzotti.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1987:89.

131 Jean Baudrillard. The Perfect Crime. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 1996:38.

132 Ibid.

133 Hans Jonas. The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity (2nd Ed). Boston: Beacon Press, 1963:270-274.

134 Jean Baudrillard. Seduction. Translated by Brian Singer. New York: St Martin's Press, 1990:142-143.

135 Jean Baudrillard. “Forget Baudrillard” in Forget Foucault. Translated by Phil Beitchman, Lee Hildreth, and Mark Polizzotti.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1987:71.

136 Umberto Eco. ”Interpretation and history”. In Stefan Collini (Ed.), Interpretation and Overinterpretation. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1992:38.

137 Roland Barthes. “The Brain of Einstein”. In Mythologies. London: Paladin, 1973:76.

138 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988:63-64.

139 Jean Baudrillard. “Forget Baudrillard” in Forget Foucault. Translated by Phil Beitchman, Lee Hildreth, and Mark Polizzotti.  New York: Semiotext(e), 1987:81.

140 Ibid.: 81-82.

141 Jean Baudrillard. The Ecstasy of Communication. Translated by Bernard and Caroline Schutze and edited by Sylvere Lotringer. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988:80-90.

142 Ibid.:90.

143 Ibid.:80.

144 J. L. Hulteng. The Messenger's Motives : Ethical Problems of the News Media. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1985:167-168.

145 Jean Baudrillard. Seduction. Translated by Brian Singer. New York: St Martin's Press, 1990:1.

146 Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism and Requiem for the Twin Towers. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2002:7, 29.

147 Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism and Requiem for the Twin Towers. Translated by Chris Turner. London: Verso, 2002:5-6.

148 Jean Baudrillard. The Evil Demon of Images. Translated by Paul Patton, Paul Foss and Philippe Tanguy. Sydney: Power Publications, 1987:19-25.

149 In memory of Nicholas Zurbrugg (1947 – 2001) and with thanks to Gary Genosko.

©Jonathan Smith (2004)


©International Journal of Baudrillard Studies (2004)

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