edelman on baudrillard

Edelman's interpretation of Baudrillard's "The Final Solution"* resonated with what I've read in Baudrillard's book America. In the recount of his road trip through America's desert-as-hopeless-vacuum, Baudrillard equates the American culture of simulacra (the cinematic landscape, "easy-does-it Apocalypse" joggers, plastic surgeon-mediated beauty, etc.) with death. This equation threads together the book. It is a paradoxical society "that you cannot even die in any more since you are already dead" (42), a country that creates picturesque villas "like funeral homes." But, as Edelman discerns that Baudrillard's "death" is actually an affirmation of reproduction while his notion of "immortality" stands for the sameness of the death drive, the death buried in America's body-builders and passion for images seems to be that of "immortality" (death drive). He sees America from the perspective of a European and, though he imparts a share of doomsday criticism of Europe, seems to side with Europe's desperate grasp onto Meaning and value of Culture, even if he concedes that such culture is now stale. The praise he bestows upon America is ironic--we have achieved "utopia" here, but it is a utopia of "unreason, of the indeterminacy of language and the subject, of the death of culture" (97). While the death of the metaphor is mourned in Europe, it is celebrated in America. It would seem then that American culture as supplicant to the immortal, homogenous image exhibits, according to Baudrillard, a drive toward death. I'm not sure what bearing this would have on Edelman's argument (I mean, can affectless American culture be interpreted as the death drive)--I simply agree that, despite Baudrillard's inflammatory exclamations, a conservative element cozying up to the Symbolic order does seem apparent in his theory.

Btw, Baudrillard as protector of the tow-haired child struck me as funny considering bah-humbug lines in "America" like (re: Halloween): "it is no accident that some [adults] stick needles or razor blades into the apples or cookies they hand out to children" (49).

*Initially mistyped as "The Final Soulution"--new name of my kspc show next semester?