America, By Jean Baudrillard, trs Chris Turner
Sunday 31 October 2010
Billed as "travel/philosophy", America does not fall neatly into either category. It is a series of assertions, inspired by his travels in America, in which Baudrillard strains his hardest to be clever and provocative.
It's crammed with paradoxes (America is "the only remaining primitive society") ; outlandish metaphors ("The marathon is a form of demonstrative suicide") and patronising generalisations ("America is a desert"; Americans are "brutally naïve").
There's also a good deal of repetition ("a realised utopia is a paradoxical idea" – p85; "the idea of an achieved utopia is a paradoxical one" – p91). There are some insights (in America, there is "an air of openness to the confrontation between races") and some poetic descriptions (desert sunsets are "giant rainbows lasting for an hour"), but the constant playing to the gallery becomes irksome.
It's all wit and no judgement. Am I taking all this too seriously, and not getting the joke? Possibly. I'm aware that this is the response of an empirically inclined Anglo-Saxon. Read it and feel free to disagree.
Arts & Ents blogs
Dennis Hopper's lost sixties photo album found
Top Gear makes Saudis look liberal, Kirsty Wark tells Independent Bath Literature Festival
Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
Jenny Collier row: Comedy promoter apologises after dropping female comic 'because venue did not want too many women on the bill'
Lena Dunham strips naked for Girls spoof while hosting Saturday Night Live
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 4 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
- 5 Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time