Jean Baudrillard: Cool Memories II. 1987-1990.

Everything makes us impatient.
Perhaps we feel remorse for a life which is too long,
from the point of view of the species,
for the use we make of it. 

Jean Baudrillard: Cool Memories II. 1987-1990. Chris Turner (tr.). Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003.

Es trágico que la editorial Anagrama no haya continuado con la publicación de los diarios filosóficos de Jean Baudrillard, Cool Memories. Ya han pasado más de veinte años desde la traducción del primer volumen por Joaquín Jordá  en 1989.

Afortunadamente para quienes no leemos francés, la traducción de Chris Turner al inglés de los cinco volúmenes restantes es excelente.

Sin más preámbulo, me gustaría dar razón en esta entrada de la profundidad y actualidad de las ideas de Baudrillard. En primer lugar, dejar claro que su pensamiento es aforístico, no sistemático. El punto de partida de su filosofía es siempre mínimo, fragmentario, infinitesimal.

All situations are inspired by an object, a fragment, a present obsession, never by an idea. Ideas come from everywhere, but they organize themselves around an objective surprise, a material derive, a detail. Analysis, like magic, plays on infinitesimal energies. (pp. 1-2)

Algunos ejemplos de sus ideas-relámpago son las siguientes (las negritas son mías):


Capital stripped bare by Speculation itself, like the bride by her bachelors. What becomes of Capital once the veil of Profit is lifted? What becomes of Labour once the veil of Capital is lifted?

Contrary to the historical slogan which says that the ‘emancipation of the workers will be achieved by the workers themselves’, we have to accept that Capital will be put to death by Capital itself (or not at all). (p. 38)


True poetry is that which has lost all the distinctive signs of poetry. If poetry exists, it is anywhere but in poetry. Just as, in the past, the name of God was scattered through the poem in accordance with the anagrammatic rule, today it is the poem itself which is dispersed into non-poetic forms. The same goes for the theatre: theatre today is anywhere but in the theatre. True theatre is elsewhere. So it is with philosophy: if it exists, it is anywhere but in works of philosophy. And the only exciting thing is this anamorphosis, this dispersal of philosophical forms into all that is not philosophy. The whole world has become philosophical. (p. 65)

Philosophy would like to delay the day of reckoning for the world in order to be able to put its question. It forgets that the world is not a universe of questions, but of answers – automatic answers, though often poetic ones nonetheless; answers provided in advance to all possible questions. Philosophy would like to transform the enigma of the world into a philosophical question, but the enigma leaves no room for any question whatever. It is the precession of the answer which makes the world indecipherable.  Modern philosophy flatters itself, in a wholly self-satisfied manner, that it asks questions to which there are no answers, whereas what we have to accept is that there are no questions at all, in which case our responsibility becomes total, since we are the answer – and the enigma of the world also remains total, then, since the answer is there, and there is no question to that answer. (p. 20)

Hegemony of the commentary, the gloss, the quotation, the reference. But absolute superiority of the ellipsis, the fragment, the quip, the riddle, the aphorism. But this is already to say too much myself. This is itself a gloss. We have to root out all metalanguages, wrench language from itself, staunch the haemorrhage. Destroy, he said, not deconstruct. Deconstructing is a weak form of thought, the inverse gloss to constructive structuralism. Nothing is more constructive than deconstruction… (p. 25)

Dios y el Mal:

God exists, but I don’t believe in him. God himself doesn’t believe in Him, according to tradition. That would be a weakness. It would also be a weakness to believe we have a soul or a desire. Let us leave that weakness to others, as God leaves belief to mortals. (p. 81)

The most difficult thing about the thinking of evil [la pensee du mal] is to expurgate it of any notion of misfortune [malheur] and guilt. (p. 2)

Suffering is always a suffering of the world’s pathetic indifference towards us (the pathos of the Stoics). One may counter this pathos with compassion or, by contrast, fight evil with evil, according to a parabolic version of pain. Irony is a shaft of wit, inevitably malicious, inevitably making things worse, but it numbs the reality of the illness. Laughing too, at whatever it may be, is a pitiless eccentricity, but laughter is magnanimous, whereas compassion is pusillanimous. (p. 13)


You might have thought Westerners would unhesitatingly back the terrorist hypothesis in the Lockerbie incident. Within the framework of the eternal struggle between Good and Evil, it was a scenario better than anyone dared hope for. And yet some vacillation was evident in the first few days (contrasting with the haste with which responsibility was claimed by suspect groups). Wasn’t it better to let suspicion fall on the hardware – an unflattering version of events for Western technology, but less dangerous than acknowledging the superiority of terrorist action over all control systems? In the former case, the West’s weakness would only be mechanical, whereas in the latter it would be a symbolic attack striking at its vitals, a defeat in the battle with a totally elusive enemy. It would have been better, then, to stick to the accident hypothesis. Sadly, no one would have believed it, since the terrorist hypothesis wins out anyway in the imaginary register. The imagination isn’t sensitive to real causes or to technical faults: what excites it are chain reactions, such as the conjunction, in the same time-period, of two extraordinary events; these are necessarily linked together, even if they are purely accidental – events attract, and this attraction is, in itself, terroristic. What fascinates thought is this terroristic enchaining of things, the symbolic disorder of which terrorism is merely the visible epicentre. (p. 21)


The political class’s current problem is that what is required today is not that it should govern, but that it should maintain the hallucination of power. And this demands very special talents. Producing power as illusion is like juggling with hot money, like dancing in front of a mirror. (p. 27)

Both completely innocent and insolent, completely artificial and totally naive, la Cicciolina isn’t exactly an object of desire, but the ideal form of the debasement of desire, beyond all character armour (as dreamt of by Wilhelm Reich). The ultimate avatar of desire become member of parliament -fantastic! In her pre-Raphaelite television appearances, she seemed the only one alive, the only one who was natural! Having exorcized all modesty, extraverted all immodesty, she became, in her ghostly smoothness, seductive. (pp. 23-24)

Debt and drugs: new balance of terror. To each his ultimate weapon. Debt as the strategic weapon of the rich countries for imprisoning the poor in their poverty, drugs as the strategic – viral and bacteriological – weapon for imprisoning the rich nations in the illusion of their power. (p. 87)

Every society must choose itself an enemy, but it must not try to exterminate it. That was the fatal error of fascism and of the Terror. But it is the error, too, of the soft, democratic terror which is now eliminating the Other even more surely than by a holocaust. The operation which consisted in hypostasizing a race and perpetuating it by internal reproduction – an operation we stigmatize as racist abjection – is currently being realized at the level of the individual in the very name of the Rights of Man to control his own process genetically and in all its forms. (p. 61)

Society functions without any vital reference to a political class which has grown lifeless, whose only concern is to maintain itself on a drip-feed, by mouth-to-mouth. But perhaps this is the ne plus ultra of democracy, when the government can cease to exist (as in Italy recently for sixty-three days) without disturbing the course of events. What more could we ask? One day, it might simply come out on indefinite strike. This solution cannot be ruled out – the governments and parties in Eastern Europe faded away as if by magic, apparently relieved to be disappearing. And ours, by making a voluntary show of their deliquescence, are preparing public opinion for their imminent demise. (p. 16)

We should be amazed not that there is so much chaos and violence, but that there is so little and everything functions so well. Given the level of aggression of every car driver, the frailties of the equipment and the mad scramble of the traffic, it’s a miracle thousands aren’t killed every day, a miracle we only rarely slaughter each other and only a few of these disastrous possibilities come to fruition. When you see the immense bureaucratic chaos, the number of absurd decisions, the universal fraud and squandering of our civic virtues, you can only be amazed by the daily miracle of this machine which, somehow or other, keeps on going, dragging its detritus along in its orbit. Apart from a few episodic breakdowns (no more frequent, ultimately, than earth tremors), it’s as though an invisible hand managed to teleonomize all this mess, to normalize this anomie. This is perhaps the same miracle as the one which prevents everyone from succumbing daily to the idea of death or to suicidal melancholia. (p. 18)

In short, it would be impossible to make a revolution with all the energies put into commemorating one. Just as impossible as it would be to produce the faintest hint of a political event with the energies put into creating elections, for the reason that election energy is merely the energy of : despair and that this energy, even multiplied infinitely, will never transmute into a single glimmer of hope. Similarly, the fantastic amounts of capital swallowed up by military expenditure could never have been transferred into other forms of social wealth. This relative autonomy of different energies, and of different forms of expenditure, wastage and sacrifice should be reassuring. It is thanks to it that we can lose our energy for politics without losing the energy for living, lose the energy for living without losing the energy for dying, etc. (p. 20)


Raymond Roussel sailing to India and turning around after taking just a brief look at the coast and not going ashore. But what was quirky behaviour then is no longer so today. Everyone is eccentric today, everyone is indifferent. Even the Japanese are indifferent to the world they photograph. They want to capture only its image, not its intimacy, which is a way of respecting that intimacy. (p. 31)

Wherever you are, even in California, nothing is more demoralizing than being there and nowhere else. One of the pleasures of travel is to dive into places where others are compelled to live and come out unscathed, full of the malicious pleasure of abandoning them to their fate. Even their local happiness seems tuned to a secret resignation. It never compares, at least, with the freedom to leave. This is when you sense that it is not enough to be alive; you have to go through life. It isn’t enough to have seen a town; you have to have gone through it. With an idea, it isn’t sufficient to have thought it; you have to have gone beyond. This is the only chance of going through death too, without it being definitive. (p. 43)

Estrategias fatales:  

The perfect crime is not the one which leaves no trace. It is the one which is impossible to reconstruct because it has no motive and, at bottom, no perpetrator. Natural catastrophes and quite a few historical events are perfect crimes. The world itself is a perfect crime, with no motive and no perpetrator; there is no clear end to the enjoyment and expiation of that crime. (p. 61)

This principle brings with it a certain inclination to believe in fate. Idleness is a fatal strategy, and fatalism a strategy of idleness. It is from this I derive a vision of the world which is both extremist and lazy. I’m not going to change this, no matter how things develop. I detest the bustling activity of my fellow citizens, detest initiative, social responsibility, ambition, competition. These are exogenous, urban values, efficient and pretentious. They are industrial qualities, whereas idleness is a natural energy. (p. 7)

6 comentarios en “Jean Baudrillard: Cool Memories II. 1987-1990.

  1. No es que no entienda el inglés. Pero tal vez mi conocimiento del mismo no sea tan profundo como para permitirme el nivel de comprensión que estos temas requieren. ¿Has pensado traducir al español los fragmentos para que los más ignorantes podamos disfrutarlos?

    ¡Un saludo!

  2. Baudrillard tiene un estilo muy peculiar, lleno de ironías, paradojas, juegos de palabras, barbarismos… Es difícil de traducir. De todos modos lo intentaré con algunos párrafos a ver qué tal.

    Un saludo.

  3. No dudo que sea algo tremendamente difícil, del mismo modo que no dudo que puedas hacerlo. Por cierto, ¿Qué consejos puedes darme a la hora de publicar entradas sobre películas y libros? Me estoy planteando dar ese paso.


  4. El problema al que me enfrento es precisamente ese. Dudo que mis opiniones se acerquen lo suficiente a la verdad que la película o el libro expresan, o mejor dicho, no creo que puedan abarcarla como merecen. Por eso quería ver si tenías alguna recomendación que hacerme.

    Por cierto, si lo prefieres usamos otros canales de comunicación, por eso de la intimidad.

    Cuídate. Un abrazo.

  5. Me sobrevaloras. Traducir me llevaría mucho tiempo pero sí me atrevo a glosar algunos de los párrafos que más me gustan. Por ejemplo: «So it is with philosophy: if it exists, it is anywhere but in works of philosophy.» La filosofía y el arte no están ni en los libros ni en los museos. Se esconden en las masas silenciosas, en las paradojas del capital, en la proliferación de imágenes…

    Respecto a tu pregunta: Habla de lo que te guste y con total libertad.

    Habitualmente sigo a Lector mal-herido, Ramón Buenaventura y Rafael Reig porque me parece que tienen esas cualidades.

    Un abrazo.

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