I ran across some thoughts expressed by Jean Baudrillard, a well known French philosopher, in the NY Times Magazine and liked some of the thoughts, especially the first one directly below! I can imagine a discussion between Baudrillard and some Republican motor mouth like Scott McLellan. The existential unreality of US policy in Iraq would shine through the disjointed and disconnected dialogue that I imagine in my mind.
So you don’t think that the U.S. invaded Iraq to spread freedom?
What we want is to put the rest of the world on the same level of masquerade and parody that we are on, to put the rest of the world into simulation, so all the world becomes total artifice and then we are all-powerful. It’s a game.
When you say “we,” who are you talking about? In your new book, “The Conspiracy of Art,” you are pretty hard on this country.
France is a byproduct of American culture. We are all in this; we are globalized. When Jacques Chirac says, “No!” to Bush about the Iraq war, it’s a delusion. It’s to insist on the French as an exception, but there is no French exception.
Hardly. France chose not to send soldiers to Iraq, which has real meaning for countless individual soldiers, for their families and for the state.
Ah, yes. We are “against” the war because it is not our war. But in Algeria, it was the same. America didn’t send soldiers when we fought the Algerian war. France and America are on the same side. There is only one side.
Isn’t that kind of simplistic reasoning why people get so tired of French intellectuals?
There are no more French intellectuals. What you call French intellectuals have been destroyed by the media. They talk on television, they talk to the press and they are no longer talking among themselves.
Do you think there are intellectuals in America?
For us, there was Susan Sontag and Noam Chomsky. But that is French chauvinism. We count ourselves. We don’t pay attention to what comes from outside. We accept only what we invented.
Were you a friend of Susan Sontag?
We saw each other from time to time, but the last time, it was terrible. She came to a conference in Toronto and blasted me for having denied that reality exists.
Do you read the work of any American writers?
I read many, many American novelists. Updike, Philip Roth, Truman Capote. I prefer American fiction to French fiction.
Perhaps French literature fell prey to French theory?
Unfortunately, French literature starved itself. It didn’t need French theory to die. It died by itself.
Some here feel that the study of the humanities at our universities has been damaged by the incursion of deconstruction and other French theories.
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.
Here is a crazy thought that occurred to me while reading this piece.
I find so many of the Bush’s utterances unreal and egregiously hypocritical. It seems to me that one of the ways of getting that over would be to subject his and Republican policy statements to deconstruction analysis.