05 August 2005

Short-circuiting the Other

From "Plastic Surgery for the Other" by Jean Baudrillard:
Everyone talks about alienation. But the worst alienation is not to be dispossessed by the other but to be dispossessed of the other, that is to say to have to produce the other in his absence, and thus to be continuously referred back to oneself and to one's image. If we are today condemned to our own image (condemned to cultivate our body, our look, our identity, and our desire), this is not because of an alienation, but because of the end of alienation and because of the virtual disappearance of the other, which is a much worse fatality. In fact, the paradoxical limit of alienation is to take oneself as a focal point [comme point de mire], as an object of care, of desire, of suffering, and of communication. This final short-circuiting of the other opens up an era of transparency. Plastic surgery [la chirurgie esthetique] becomes universal. That surgery of the faces and bodies is only the symptom of a more radical one: that of otherness and destiny.

What is the solution? Well, there is none to this erotic movement of an entire culture, none to such a fascination, to such an abyss of denial of the other, of denial of strangeness and negativity. There is none to that foreclosing of evil and to that reconciliation around the Same and his proliferated expressions: incest, autism, twinning, cloning. We can only remember that seduction lies in not reconciling with the Other and in salvaging the strangeness of the Other. We must not be reconciled with our own bodies or with our selves. We must not be reconciled with the Other. We must not be reconciled with nature. We must not be reconciled with femininity (and that goes for women too). The secret to a strange attraction lies here.
With thanks to wood s lot

(I feel like Meg Murry: "Like and equal are not the same thing at all!")

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