The following quotations are from:
Jean Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena
“A simulacrum of violence, emerging less from passion than from the screen: a violence in the nature of the image. Violence exists potentially in the emptiness of the screen, in the hole the screen opens in the mental universe.” 85
“The violence of football hooligans is an aggravated form of indifference, one which has such resonance only because it is based on a lethal crystallization of this kind. Fundamentally, such violence is not so much an event as the explosive form assumed by an absence of events. Or rather, the implosive form: and what implodes here is the political void (rather than the resentment of some particular group), the silence of history which has been repressed at the level of individual psychology, and the indifference and silence of everyone. We are dealing, therefore, not with irrational episodes in the life of our society, but instead with something that is completely in accord with that society’s accelerating plunge into the void.” 86
“Behind the tragedy at the Heysel Stadium, in fact, lies a kind of state terrorism. This is not manifested solely in carefully programmed actions (the CIA, Israel, Iran, etc.). For there is also a willful pursuit of draconian policies, policies of provocation with regard to a country’s own citizens, attempts to fill entire sectors of the population with despair, to drive them to the brink of suicide: all of this is part and parcel of the policies of a number of modern states. Mrs. Thatcher successfully destroyed the miners by means of just such a calculated bloody-mindedness: the strikers ended up discrediting themselves in the eyes of society. She has a similar strategy towards unemployed hooligans: it is as though she turns them into commandos herself, then sends them abroad; she condemns them, of course, but their brutality remains the very same brutality that she demonstrates in the exercise of her power. Liquidation policies of this kind, more or less drastic in their application, are the stock in trade, justified by the appeal to crisis, of all modern states. They inevitably entail extreme methods of the sort mentioned, which are merely the diverted effects of a terrorism to which the State is in no way opposed.
As soon as it becomes impossible for states to attack and destroy one another, they turn almost automatically against their own peoples, their own territories; a sort of civil war or internecine conflict begins between the State and its natural referent. Is it not in fact the fate of every sign, every signifying and representative agency, to abolish its natural referent?
Certain this is the inevitable outcome in the political realm, a fact of which both represented and representatives are perfectly—albeit obscurely—aware. We are all Machiavellians without knowing it, by virtue of our obscure consciousness of the fact that representation is no more than a dialectical fiction concealing a duel to the death between the two parties involved, and that it mobilizes a will to power and a will to destroy the other which may end up with the destruction of the self through voluntary servitude: all power is composed of the Hegemony of the Prince and the Holocaust of the People.” 88-89
Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil: The Lucidity Pact
“There is no separation any longer, no emptiness, no absence: you enter the screen and the visual image unimpeded. You enter life itself as though walking on to a screen. You slip on you own life like a data suit.
Unlike photography, cinema and painting, where there is a scene and a gaze, the video image, like the computer screen, induces a kind of immersion, a sort of umbilical relation, of ‘tactile’ interaction, as McLuhan used to say. You enter the fluid substance of the image, possibly to modify it, in the same way as science infiltrates itself into the genome and into the genetic code to transform the body itself.” 75-76
“For there to be critical perception and genuine information, the images would have to be different form the war. But they are not (or not any longer): to the routinized violence of war its added the equally routine violence of the images. To the technical virtuality of the war is added the digital virtuality of the images.
If we understand war for what it is today (beyond its political stakes), namely the instrument of a violent acculturation to the world order, then the media and images are part of the Integral Reality of war. They are the subtler instrument of the same homogenization by force.
In this impossibility of reapprehending the world through images and of moving from information to a collective action and will, in this absence of sensibility and mobilization, it isn’t apathy or general indifference that’s at issue; it is quite simply that the umbilical cord of representation is severed.” 77
“In fact, it is the (virtual) machine which is speaking you, the machine which is thinking you.
And is there really any possibility of discovering something in cyberspace? The Internet merely simulates a free mental space, a space of freedom and discovery. In fact, it merely offers a multiple but conventional space, in which the operator interacts with known elements, pre-existent sites, established codes. Nothing exists beyond its search parameters. Every question has an anticipated response assigned to it. You are the questioner and, at the same time, the automatic answering device of the machine. Both coder and decoder—you are, in fact, your own terminal.
That is the ecstasy of communication.” 81
“The computer is a prosthesis. I have a tactile, intersensory relation to it. I become, myself, an ectoplasm of the screen.
And this, no doubt, explains, in this incubation of the virtual image and the brain, the malfunctions which afflict computers, and which are like the failings of one’s own body. On the other hand, the fact that priority belongs to the network and not to individuals implies the possibility of hiding, of disappearing into the intangible space of the Virtual, so that you cannot be pinned down anywhere, which resolves all problems of identity, not to mention those of alterity.
So, the attraction of all these virtual machines no doubt derives not so much from the thirst for information and knowledge as from the desire to disappear, and the possibility of dissolving oneself into a phantom conviviality.
A kind of ‘high’ that takes the place of happiness. But virtuality comes close to happiness only because it surreptitiously removes all reference from it. It gives you everything, but it subtly deprives you of everything at the same time. The subject is, in a sense, realized to perfection, but when realized to perfection, it automatically becomes object, and panic sets in.” 82
“We have already seen in the media revolution being misunderstood when the medium was reduced to a mere instrumental technique. We see here the same misunderstanding of the meaning of the Virtual when it is reduced to an applied technology. People did not see that the irruption of both overturned the very principle of reality. So they speak of the proper use of the Virtual, of an ethics of the Virtual, of virtual ‘democracy’, without changing anything of the traditional categories.
Now, the specificity of the Virtual is that it constitutes an event in the real against the real and throws into question all these categories of the real, the social, the political and history—such that the only emergence of any of these things now is virtual.” 83
“We must have a sense of this illusion of the Virtual somewhere, since, at the same time as we plunge into this machinery and its superficial abysses, it is as though we viewed it as theater. Just as we view news coverage as theatre.
Of news coverage we are the hostages, but we also treat it as spectacle, consume it as spectacle, without regard for its credibility. A latent incredulity and derision prevent us from being totally in the grip of the information media.
It isn’t critical consciousness that causes us to distance ourselves from it in this way, but the reflex of no longer wanting to play the game.” 84