Friday, March 2, 2012

Baudrillard Reading Himself - And Rand - Through Nietzsche

 It is the terrorist model to bring about an excess of reality, and have the system collapse beneath that excess. - Baudrillard  

Following Nietzsche's advice, we might sound out concepts with a hammer. This might perhaps be a good way of conducting our interviews. Nietzsche, whose searing words accompanied you through adolescence. (Baudrillard - Fragments p 1)

It was a relationship that went in fits and starts, so to speak, and there was an enormous period of eclipse in it. I was a great devotee of Nietzsche. I read him very early, in the sixth form. I was even lucky enough to have him in both the written and oral German agregation exams, though that was my undoing, as the examiners didn't agree at all with my reading; Nietzsche took his revenge there, unless we take the view that he did me a favor by preventing me from passing the exam. After that I stopped reading him entirely. I held him in a kind of quasi visceral memory, but I'd only retained what I wanted to. I would remember particular aspects of his thought, or find aspects of it emerging in a more or less aphoristic memory. There was a long eclipse, but I was already on the ecliptic. All in all, Nietzsche was never, strictly speaking, a reference for me, but an ingrained memory. 

Nietzsche is in me in the mode of the unzeitgemass as he puts it himself, the mode  of the untimely

In talking with you about Nietzsche, I was thinking tn particular of the genealogical method which enables us to uncover what lies hidden behind ideas, to see their real basis. (Francois L'Yvonnet in Fragments - Baudrillard p.2)

That was the method I followed, but my material came from worldly affairs. There are no other ways of thinking, it seems to me. In this sense, Nietzsche really is a unique thinker. I don't see any other like him. 

Perhaps one only ever studies one philosopher seriously, just as one has only one godfather, as one has only a single idea in one's life. Nietzsche is, then, the author beneath whose broad shadow I moved, though involuntarily, and without even really knowing I was doing so. I've quoted him at times, but not often. And I've never even thought of mobilizing or adapting him for my own ends. If I come back to him now, this is doubtless because I'm going back to the aphoristic form, in writing and photography. Though Nietzschean aphorisms are often of such scope that they're perhaps something other than aphorisms.  At any rate you can use Nietzsche aphoristically, and not philosophically or ideologically.  (Baudrillard - Fragments p. 2)

Fragments is one of his last books. He died in 2007 and his thought was still changing up until his death.

Ayn Rand  read Nietzsche also at seventeen, an early, impressionable age. It is my belief that she was thoroughly steeped in Nietzchean thought so much so that Nietzsche permeates all the fiction she ever wrote. And like Baudrillard, I believe Nietzsche was IN HER. Nietzsche, like Lovecraft, enters your mind and influences it, if not for all time, for a very long time, and is terribly difficult to shake off. That is, if you even want to. As is known about Rand, she was incredibly capable of extreme denial. Baudrillard, of course, is too sophisticated a scholar to not know this about himself and he identifies it. Rand was totally occupied with writing fiction that cut into the Dominating Discourse of America and changed the way we think in many areas. I also believe that her great influence has to do with Nietzsche seeping  through the interstices of her mind into ours. 
Number 1 in Notes: Journal of Ayn Rand Studies , Vol 10 number 2 p 340 

1. One indication of the degree of Nietzsche’s influence on Rand can be 
gleaned from the fact that, as Rand related to Barbara Branden (1986, 45), 

“The first

book I bought myself in America was an English version of Thus Spake Zarathustra,
and I underscored all my favorite sections.” 

Not only did Rand have many favorite
sections in this work, but she underscored them all in an English-language edition
even though “her English was halting and uncertain” at that time (68). She must
have known the work extremely well.

This is my point.




seymourblogger said...


abbeysbooks said...


darren said...

Part I:

Ayn Rand's enduring influence rests on her talent as a popular novelist, and not on any ability as a serious philosopher. While one can broadly agree with her positions on egoism and capitalism, the bases on which she claimed these rest — namely, her notions of metaphysics and epistemology — are incorrect when intelligible, and when correct, trivial.

Though apparently rejecting philosophical materialism, Objectivist metaphysics is simply an encore of the "naive materialism" debuted publicly by H. G. Wells in his "Outlines of History" (1919): an amusing scenario of Where It All Came From and Where It Is All Going, starring those two famous comics, Matter and Energy.

The epistemology as presented in the Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology is a farraginous mess, with definitions of concepts like "Unit" that are so idiosyncratic as to make the entire system (not to mention one's time trying to grasp it) a complete waste.

Alas. One cannot create a philosophical system in the same manner that one creates a novel, i.e., by making it up in accordance with one's inner truth. Though we willingly suspend our disbelief when entering the fictional world Ayn Rand created in her novels, we are unwilling to do the same when reading her non-fiction philosophy.

darren said...

Part II:

In the 19th-century, some novels made use of the scholarly apparatus of footnotes: a passage in the text would have a reference such as an asterisk or a dagger, perhaps after the mention of some exotic location, which reference would signal to the reader that he should scan the explanatory note at the foot of the page for more information. This information, in rhetorical terminology, is known as "Non-Diagetic"; i.e., information that (supposedly) lies outside the fictional world of the novel itself. There was no guarantee, of course, that this footnote was objectively true. The point of having a footnote was that it resembled the truth (being a mode of communication borrowed from non-fiction scholarship) for the purpose of sustaining and further highlighting the "inner truth" — the REVEALED TRUTH — of the writer qua storyteller. The purpose of the footnote was to legitimize, in a sense, the fictional part of the novel, adding to its overall plausibility for a reader. It's important to understand that since the "tension" between the footnoting and the storytelling was stylistic — the writer wasn't merely trying to give the reader an interesting bit of information about a location mentioned in the story; he was trying to REINFORCE the plausibility of the story by means of a device normally associated with non-fiction scholarship — there's no guarantee (not even the necessity!) that the information in the footnote be objectively true; i.e., the footnote might just as easily be yet more "revealed truth" from the novelist; i.e., the scholarly-looking footnote itself might just be more fiction!

Using the analogy of a stage play, a footnote in a novel is similar to an actor's "aside" to the audience, in which he momentarily walks through that proverbial "fourth wall" and speaks directly to the audience in order to impart some information to them, or comment to them about the goings-on in the play; that would be an example of non-diagetic dialogue (i.e., dialogue that the audience can hear, but which the other characters on stage at the moment are supposed to be unaware of). It's quite apparent to the audience, however, that even the "aside" has been scripted by the playwright, and that it is still really a part of the invented world of the play. No one in the audience would seriously consider an actor's "aside" to be the same sort of communication about the goings-on in the play as, for example, a serious review of the play by a critic that might appear in the newspapers the day after the performance.

So while I consider the twin pedestals of metaphysics and epistemology in Objectivism to be in serious error, they are so only when considered as attempts at serious scholarship. They become something quite different if we think of them as extended footnotes to readers of her novels; "asides" made to them by the various characters of Galt, Reardon, Taggart, Roark, et al., for the purpose of strengthening the plausibility of the story, and, ultimately, maintaining that all-important suspension of the reader's disbelief. The philosophy of Objectivism (especially its metaphysics and epistemology) — like Atlas Shrugged itself — is ultimately meant as entertainment, not scholarship.

seymourblogger said...

Perfect. So footnotes in a work of fiction are "floating signs" masking as non-fiction when they are fiction. Asserting the opposite of what they are.

IT is resonating with David foster Wallace's 150 pages of footnotes in Infinite Jest. I read everyone of them. Carefully. They were not "floating signs" though.

So all of Objectivism is a "floating sign".

You have a hefty book deal here nerrad. Don't stop. Go into the design template and in attribution please put your name in the copyright. I meant to talk with your about that as I CR all my blogs, but I want to send mine viral.

Yours belongs in a Rand test for academics, particularly those in post modern studies. Zizek is going to love love love it!

Forget Perigo!

seymourblogger said...

I can't get disqus to show up even though it is installed. I bet I have to get rid of blogger first and I think they settle in on default. I bet this is part of the new google interface. Controlling bastards.