Requiem for the Reader

In looking at Jean Baudrillard’s Requiem for the Media, I was struck by his privileging of the monopoly of speech in the guise of conversation par interruption as the medium/message of choice unburdened by the decoding of signs.
Baudrillard writes, “All vague impulses to democratize content, subvert it, restore the transparency of the code… are hopeless – unless the monopoly of speech is broken; and one cannot break the monopoly of speech if one’s goal is simply to distribute it to everyone.” I understand the objection here to making everyone a producer of content and how that still doesn’t solve Baudrillard’s problem of the transmitter-message-receiver model but I think the problem is contained within the model itself (281).  In desiring a ‘symbolic exchange relation’ with a simultaneous response, Baudrillard reasons that the coding of the message will fall away with the dissolution of the transmitter and the receiver (287).
However, I surmise that what Baudrillard proposes is moot since a thick description of the media is a theoretical impossibility by the very nature of the medium. I also found it interesting that in referencing Barthes, Baudrillard doesn’t go far enough and extend the insights of critics like Barthes after his turn to post-structuralism, Gadamer and Iser to the idea that in destabilizing the authorial authority the reader does gain access to the signifying text and the act of reading becomes more than a referendum (281).

One response to “Requiem for the Reader

  1. I see your point in how I need to “teach” my Anthro students not to use text codes in their written assignments. I don’t text, and don’t know the codes. In their recoding of the message before I am able to decode the innitial meaning puts me at a loss. However, in the “Thick Description” model espoused by Geertz mentioned above, we can hardely expect our students to write a five page paper in thate mode, but a regression to abbreviation is the other extream. My question is therefore an open one that addresses the issue of where and how “New Media” is is leaving our youth?