Baudrillard, a theorist who constantly crosses the line

  The 20th century is often regarded as a century of theory, and French theory is often regarded as the most original and dynamic theory. Among the many contemporary French theorists, we are already familiar with Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Roland Barthes, etc. However, there is a thinker who has the same achievements and influence as them, but we have not been very familiar with them. Little is known. This is the famous contemporary French thinker Jean Baudrillard.
  Baudrillard was born in 1929 to a commoner family in Reims, in the northeastern Ardennes province of France. He taught German in a public high school for a long time. From 1962 to 1963, he published literary reviews on Calvino and Johnson in “New Age” edited by Sartre, and also translated some German literary works. In 1966, he completed his sociology thesis “Three Cycles of Sociology” at the University of Paris V, which changed his academic research interest and direction. In 1968, Baudrillard’s first theoretical work “The System of Things” was published. Since then, France has lost an excellent translator of German literature, but added a unique philosopher and social critical theorist. Baudrillard died in Paris on March 6, 2007.
  Baudrillard introduced himself in an interview: “My grandparents were both farmers. My parents were urban public officials. Traditional families evolved by leaving the countryside to settle in cities. It can be said that I am a family The first person among the members to engage in research work, this is a kind of break, and the beginning of abandoning the old and creating the new.” Baudrillard is such a thinker and philosopher who is always breaking and innovating. But compared with thinkers and philosophers, he emphasized his independence more. He said: “I am neither a philosopher nor a sociologist. I have neither gone down the appropriate academic path nor worked in the proper academy. I teach in the sociology department at the university, but I am Don’t consider myself in a sociological or philosophical career. Theoretician? I’d be. Metaphysician? Maybe. Moralist? Literary color. It is constantly changing, becoming less theoretical, becoming less necessary to provide evidence or to refer to citations.” Baudrillard is a theorist who is always crossing the line, a theorist who is difficult to position his theories. He writes because of the needs of his heart, he writes only for himself. Frances Bousnell, editor-in-chief of the Paris-based literary monthly “Reading” magazine, commented on Baudrillard: “He does not choose a position, he is very independent.” The British “Guardian” on September 21, 1988 wrote “Baudrillard” Who is it?”, used a full-page report on Baudrillard, calling him “professor of sociology, prophet of cataclysm, fanatical lyricist of great panic, obsessive descriptor of postmodern wasteland without a center, The Hottest Figures in New York Literati Circle”.
  Baudrillard has conducted in-depth research on German culture, Marxist theory and even artistic photography. In the 1950s and 1960s, European semiotics and post-structuralism were prevalent, and Baudrillard was obviously dissatisfied with the analysis and study of semiotics completely divorced from political economy; Said not seeing the political economy significance of the symbol. Therefore, he felt that it was necessary to combine the research of Marxism and semiotics to create a new research method and open up a new research field. So, in 1981 he published a book “Critique of the Political Economy of Symbols”.
  Baudrillard believes that people in the post-industrial society have completely lived in a world where “reality” cannot be touched at all. They don’t know what reality is at all, and they only see symbols or illusions. There is no difference between “reality” and the description, interpretation and shaping of reality. We live in an era of simulation. “We are in the ‘logic of simulation’ which no longer has any connection with the ‘logic of facts’ and the ‘logic of reason’. The characteristic of ‘simulation’ is that the model comes first, and all models take this fact as the The foundation—the model appears first, and its cycle, like the orbit of a bomb, constitutes the real gravitational field of the event.” Therefore, the concept of sign is a very key concept in Baudrillard’s theory. Baudrillard once seriously studied political economy, but he did not examine labor products from the level of social material production, nor did he examine social production relations, but from the level of consumption significance to examine commodities as symbols, and to examine contemporary developed countries. The meaning structure of consumer activity in capitalist society is examined. In the past, economists focused on the use value and exchange value of commodities, but they ignored the symbolic value of commodities, which has become more and more important in today’s society. In Baudrillard’s view, the pure criticism of political economy or the theory of material production in the past is only a kind of “commodity fetishism”, while the semiotics or text production theory is only a kind of “symbol fetishism”. The analysis is combined with the analysis of the commodity form. Therefore, Baudrillard’s work is to combine the two to create a general theory of “Critique of Symbolic Political Economy”. Baudrillard believes that:
  Today, consumption (if the word has a different meaning from vulgar economists) precisely illustrates such a stage of development, that is, commodities are completely regarded as symbols, as symbols of value, and symbols (cultural ) is regarded as a commodity. …nothing today (goods, services, bodies, sexuality, culture, knowledge, etc.) in the process of production and exchange can be interpreted as a symbol alone, or grasped as a commodity alone, in the context of general political economy. Whatever is dominant in the context is neither commodity nor culture alone…but an inseparable combination of the two…use value, exchange value and symbolic value come together in a complex pattern, Thus illustrating the most general form of political economy.
  According to Marxist political economy, the use value of a commodity refers to “the utility of an item to satisfy people’s needs”, such as food to satisfy hunger and clothes to keep out the cold. The use value of a thing depends on its natural properties, and it does not exist without it. The use value of things can only be realized in the use and consumption. Baudrillard believes that only making the distinction between use value and exchange value for “things” is obviously narrow, because there are many “things” that are difficult to restore to this dichotomy. Gifts, for example, go beyond the dichotomy of use value and exchange value. The exchange of gifts is not based on the valuation of the exchanged or the principle of equivalence, but on the relative communication between people. This kind of communication is what Baudrillard calls “symbolic communication”. After examining the ancient system of primitive tribes, Baudrillard pointed out: the gift exchange of primitive tribes is not a simple act of barter, but a human activity with rich connotations, including rich moral, economic, legal , aesthetic, religious, mythological, social and even linguistic implications. Another example is the wedding ring has no use value, it seems to exist only for the exchange between husband and wife or lovers.
  Baudrillard also took the art auction as an example and made a very wonderful analysis. The art auction situation also clearly transcends the dichotomy of use value and exchange value. The works of art auctioned often do not meet people’s needs, and those bidders do not bid because they appreciate the works of art, but because they can prove their privileged status and their superiority by bidding for the works of art. status. In the final analysis, “bidding” is to obtain items that others have not obtained, in order to show that you are unique and unique. Art is not what they need, all they need is the bid itself. “Bidding” has become a symbol of status, and the value of this symbol is what bidders really care about. In addition, when the artworks are auctioned, the artworks often do not appear on the scene, only the pictures of the artworks appear, and the artworks are only auctioned as a symbol. Finally, successful bidders do not use or consume artwork, and their needs are already met at the auction site. Therefore, the artworks auctioned should have symbolic value rather than use value.
  The example of art auctions vividly illustrates the fission experienced by “commodities” and “symbols” in today’s world. Just as the sign is completely divorced from its referent, the use-value of a commodity is completely disconnected from its exchange-value. When the sign loses its referential meaning and referent, it does not have any referentiality outside the sign, it only refers to the sign itself. The same is true of commodities. In the post-industrial era, what people value is not the use value of commodities, but the symbolic value. For example, children like to eat “KFC”, often not just for, or mainly not to satisfy their hunger, but because “KFC” represents an honor, a privilege, and a joy. Because all children like to eat KFC, “I” is no exception, otherwise, “I” will be excluded from the community of children. Another example is the current brand-name products, people consume “brand-name”, often not because the brand-name products have a specific use value, but because “brand-name” represents a kind of identity, a status, a privilege. The value of “famous brand” lies in its special symbolic value. In this case, consumption itself is no longer a kind of enjoyment, but becomes an action for the purpose of production, and the purpose of production is production itself.
  Like many contemporary French thinkers, Baudrillard also “sows seeds at home, but reaps abroad.” However, Baudrillard’s “harvest” date is relatively late. It was not until the late 1980s that he became popular in the English academic circle, and then his works were translated into English one by one. With more and more people paying attention to and citing Baudrillard’s theories, he has become the “giant” and “great priest” of postmodernism. Baudrillard once said: “I have nothing to do with postmodernism at all.” But that doesn’t mean he really has nothing to do with postmodernism. Didn’t Foucault also make it clear: “What do we mean by postmodernity? I’m out of fashion…I can neither grasp the kinds of questions that the term ‘postmodern’ is meant to express – nor do I know them What does it have in common with what people call ‘postmodern’.”