Friday, March 7, 2014

Life is Without Meaning and so Is Advertising

This posting may be of limited interest. A friend who is in advertising strongly suggested I read "Absolute Advertising: Ground-Zero Advertising," a chapter from Simulacra and Simulation, a small and intense collection (1981) of essays by French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. As is demanded of the French, Baudrillard is cynical. I'm not sure there is are counter arguments to his contention that the meaning we may find in life is scorned and ignored by advertising, although he did, as they say, paint with a broad brush, offering few specifics. Except for the majesty of Las Vegas, rising from the desert every day, sinking into its darkness at night. I offer the image, not his, dare I write, nostalgia.

I tend to argue with my reading, explain lapses in perspective to writers. And then, as I did reading this chapter, I argue with myself to not argue, just read. The essay is eight pages. Elegantly dismissive. And not about to give ground. For my own benefit, I copied a few quotes. Consider this posting a Notes to Self or a reminder to fight for meaning. The culture is dissolving its own importance.

from the essay

Advertising, therefore, like information: destroyer of intensities, accelerator of inertia.

It is not that people no longer believe in it [advertising] or that they have accepted it as routine. It is that if its fascination once lay in its power to simplify all languages, today the power is stolen from it by another type of language that is even more simplified and thus more functional: the language of computer science. has both "entered into our customs" and at the same time escaped the social and moral dramaturgy that it still represented twenty years ago.

It is confused with itself (and the eroticism with which it ridiculously cloaks itself is nothing but the autoerotic index of a system that does nothing but designate itself--whence the absurdity of seeing in it an "alienation" of the female body.

There is no longer a staging of the commodity: there is only its obscene and empty form.

Note: the image is from Metropolis in Barcelona. Also note that Baudrillard is smoking, as is required of French philosophers.

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