Home / “Paroxysm” – Jean Baudrillard, interviewed by Philippe Petit

“Paroxysm” – Jean Baudrillard, interviewed by Philippe Petit

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“In prosody, the term ‘paroxytone’, the literal equivalent of which in Latin is the penultimate, refers to the syllable before last. The paroxysm might thus be said to be the penultimate moment, that is to say not the final moment, but the moment just before the end, just before there’s nothing more to be said.”

“It is because we no longer know that which is true or false, what is good or evil, what has value or does not, that we are forced to store everything, record everything, conserve everything, and from this an irrevocable devaluation ensues. Is it because we accumulate things infinitely, or is it because we have set about storing, accumulating, adding reality to reality and information to information that all values have become confused and undecidable? Even this is undecidable.” [I am reminded of an Aboriginal epigram: “The more you know, the less you need.”]

“We are the fetish objects of a thought that is no longer ours, or that is its uncontrollable outgrowth.”

“Now, if we cannot grasp both the genesis and the singularity of the event, the appearance of things and their meaning, then one of two things is possible: either we master the meaning, and the appearances escape us; or the meaning escapes us, and appearances are preserved.”

“Identity is a dream pathetic in its absurdity. You dream of being yourself when you’ve nothing better to do.” [Here Jerzy Grotowski comes to mind: “Daily life involves endless pretexts.”]

“The will is always retrospective. It comes to sanction something that has already taken place. It’s like plans: you do something, and retrospectively, you conceive the plan.” [Ingmar Bergman said, “Explanations are simply clumsy rationalizations with hindsight.”]

“The media speak; that’s what they’re there for. They transmit the virus. They are the virus. Which means they exert an extraordinary fascination by way of catastrophes, accidents, violence, and all that sort of thing. It’s black magic which plays best.” [J.G. Ballard, call your office: your next patient is here; oh, and Philip K. Dick, would you please join Mr. Ballard?

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