Baudrillard was invited to collaborate on the sequels, but declined.
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He later protested wryly that The Matrix had got him wrong: "The most embarrassing part of the film is that the new problem posed by simulation is confused with its classical, Platonic treatment The Matrix is surely the kind of film about the matrix that the matrix would have been able to produce. Baudrillard was born in the cathedral town of Reims in north-eastern France.
His grandparents were peasants and his parents became civil servants. He was the first of his family to go to university, studying German at the Sorbonne in Paris, and he later said that this led to a break with his family and cultural milieu.
Baudrillard later said he "participated" in the student revolts. That same year, his first book, The System of Objects, was published. With the sociologist Henri Lefebvre and the cultural critic Roland Barthes as his intellectual mentors, he gave sharp, ironic readings of interior-design materials, gadgets, washing powder and other everyday phenomena. In subsequent works, including The Consumer Society , The Mirror of Production , and Forget Foucault , Baudrillard developed arguments about the increasing power of the "object" over the "subject" in modern society, and the way in which protest and resistance were increasingly absorbed and turned into fuel by the symbolic "system" of capitalism.
During this period, he also wrote on art and architecture for the journal Utopie.
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The volume Simulacra and Simulation the book that later appeared in The Matrix gained a wide audience, and Baudrillard soon found himself a globetrotting academic superstar, discoursing on his themes of "seduction" the term that escapes the binary opposition of "production" and "destruction" and "hyper-reality" the simulated realm that is "more real than the real". In he moved from Nanterre, which had, he lamented, become "normalised", to the university of Paris-IX Dauphine.
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Baudrillard characterised the s, with its wishful illusions about the "end of history", as a "stagnant" period in which events were on strike. Eventually the strike was broken by the attacks on the US of September 11 Baudrillard called it "the ultimate event, the mother of all events". Subsequently, for Baudrillard, there was no longer any need for the media to virtualise events, as in the first Gulf war, since the war's participants had thoroughly internalised the rules of simulation.
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His essay, War Porn, observed how the photographs from Abu Ghraib enacted scenes of fetishistic pornography, concluding: "It is really America that has electrocuted itself. Baudrillard took to calling his works "theory fictions": because the present is always more fantastical than the most lurid science fiction, "theory" must compete with it on an imaginative level. So Baudrillard offered himself as an extrapolator, a canary in the cultural coalmine.
In , Baudrillard had hailed Ballard's Crash as "the first great novel of the universe of simulation". If he didn't take himself particularly seriously, his critics complained that he didn't take anything else seriously either.
A recurring charge was that it was politically and morally irresponsible, at the very least, to speak of the "unreality" of modern war, because to do so was to ignore the realities of killing and suffering. Baudrillard's response, in his book The Lucidity Pact, or The Intelligence of Evil, was laconic: "The reality-fundamentalists equip themselves with a form of magical thinking that confuses message and messenger: if you speak of the simulacrum, then you are a simulator; if you speak of the virtuality of war, then you are in league with it and have no regard for the hundreds of thousands of dead One sceptical British interviewer called Baudrillard a "philosopher clown", a description to which he probably would not have objected, instead taking it as an invitation to think about the social function of clowns.
Foucault was asked to reply, but remained silent. Forget Foucault made Baudrillard instantly infamous in France. It was a devastating revisitation of Foucault's recent History of Sexuality--and of his entire oeuvre--and also an attack on those philosophers, like Gilles Deleuze and F lix Guattari, who believed that desire could be revolutionary.
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In Baudrillard's eyes, desire and power were interchangeable, so desire had no place in Foucault's work. There is no better introduction to Baudrillard's polemical approach to culture than these pages, in which Baudrillard dares Foucault to meet the challenge of his own thought.