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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Blog entries on '07 March 2007'

Wednesday 07 March 2007

Josipovici lecture

Gabriel Josipovici will be giving this year's James Coffin memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Institute of German and Romance Studies. His subject is "What Ever Happened To Modernism?" The lecture takes place next Wednesday, 14th March, and starts at 6.00 pm. It is taking place in the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (28 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5DS). The lecture will be followed by a reception. All are welcome, and admission is free, but please let if you would like to attend.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Wednesday 07 March 2007

Jean Baudrillard RIP

The sociologist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard died this Tuesday in Paris, at 77 years of age. Born on July 20th 1929 in Rheims, a translator of Bertold Brecht, politically near to the Situationists and Guy Debord in the '60s, Baudrillard taught sociology at the University of Nanterre from 1966. More English-language details can be found at the NY Times and the NY Sun; French-language responses include Robert Maggiori's Jean Baudrillard au-delà du réel and Laurent Wolf's Le pourfendeur d'images (via the literary saloon).

I've always enjoyed reading Baudrillard's work. My favourite? Probably a book from 1978 called In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. What I got most clearly from this was the critique of the entirely erroneous idea that the Left could speak for -- or on behalf of -- "the people" in any way:

Written in 1978 and first published in English in 1983, In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities was the first postmodern response to the delusional strategies of terrorism. At a time when European terrorists were taking politics into their own hands, Baudrillard was the first to announce that the "critical mass" had stopped being critical of anything. Rather, the "masses" had become a place of absorption and implosion; hence the ending of the possibility of politics as will and representation.

The book marked the end of an era when silent majorities still factored into the democratic political process and were expected to respond positively to revolutionary messages. With the masses no longer "alienated" as Marx had described, but rather indifferent, this phenomenon made revolutionary explosion impossible, says Baudrillard.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

-- Siegfried Sassoon
Collected Poems (Faber and Faber)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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