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The Spirit of Terrorism Paperback – Oct 17 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; Revised edition edition (Oct. 17 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859844480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859844489
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 0.1 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 68 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #435,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

“What he calls the ‘spirit of terrorism’ is the waking nightmare of fantasy become reality, which means that in the West, we are all, whether of the right or left, now engaged in a murderous game, the rules of which are constantly being changed, not according to the globalized strategies of the western powers, but according to the inscrutable, ultimately unknowable, demands of ‘the enemy’ ... Baudrillard ... offers a sober and hard-headed commentary on the events of September 11 and their aftermath. Significantly, there is no trace of the specious and pretensious nihilism that is so often claimed as the hallmark of his thinking. Rather, he offers a clear analysis of the terrible miscalculations in the West that have brought us to this point, and which seem to offer us no way back from the spectral ‘war on terrorism.’”—New Statesman

“... philosophical perfection. Each book [in the Verso series of 9-11] offers powerful and highly readable commentary that whirlwinds around the specter of the towers, and together the texts raise an indelibly valuable dialogue where many are still afraid to step. Unbreakable, these volumes are filled with extraordinary ideas and ideals that slowly piece together from one poetic line to the next.”—XLR8R Magazine

“First prize for cerebral coldbloodedness goes to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard ... It takes a rare, demonic genius to brush off the slaughter of thousands on the grounds that they were suffering from severe ennui brought about by boring modern architecture.”—New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007) began teaching sociology at the Université de Paris-X in 1966. He retired from academia in 1987 to write books and travel until his death in 2007. His many works include Simulations and Simulacra, America, The Perfect Crime, The System of Objects, Passwords, The Transparency of Evil, The Spirit of Terrorism, and Fragments, among others.

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By steve on March 24 2004
Format: Paperback
Well, this is a very short book. If you are not familiar with Baudrillard's academic social theory and philosophical works, much of the commentary may come across as superficial, cynical or just plain odd. The unreferenced paraphrasal of Clauschwitz's formula (earlier inverted by Foucault), the references to 'symbols' and death as 'sacrifice'; none of this will make any sense unless you have read Symbolic Exchange and Death, or Signs and Simulations, and like those english journos who reviewed 'The Gulf War did not take place' with similar ignorance, if you take it only at that level you will miss the whole point, and look like a stupid arse.
Sacrifice referes to his thesis in symbolic exchange and death that the only resistance to the 'system' is suicide, building on the third volume of Marx's Capital; so that dead labour now outweighs living labour, we all live in a world of death, the only refusal is to stop the system killin us.
As the editor of the edition of 'The Gulf war did not take place' that I read showed; many people criticsed Baudrillard comparing him to a classical 'enlightenment' thinker like Noam Chomsky. But this edition then had a quote by Chomsky in the intro where he said it wasn't a 'war' because that conventionally meant two sides fighting against each other. Similarly, Baudrillard's point that we have all imagined the collapse of american empire; in a couple of different places in his work on US foreign policy Chomsky talks about the war mongers in Vietnam and what they said about the 'VC', hypothesising what they would have done if the VC had launched attacks in downtown New York.
Besides which, why should Baudrillard have to explain himself to you in any case? If we can't see through the oxymoronism of a 'War on Terrorism' we deserve to blown up in densely populated city centres like the sheep we are.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By steve on March 24 2004
Format: Paperback
Well, this is a very short book. If you arte not familiar with Baudrillard's academic social theory and philosophical works, much of the commentary may come across as superficial, cynical or just plain odd. The unreferenced paraphrasal of Clauschwitz's formula (earlier inverted by Foucault), the references to 'symbols' and death as 'sacrifice'; none of this will make any sense unless you have read Symbolic Exchange and Death, or Signs and Simulations, and like those english journos who reviewed 'The Gulf War did not take place' with similar ignorance, if you take it only at that level you will miss the whole point, and look like a stupid arse.
Sacrifice referes to his thesis in symbolic exchange and death that the only resistance to the 'system' is suicide, building on the third volume of Marx's Capital; so that dead labour now outweighs living labour, we all live in a world of death, the only refusal is to stop the system killin us.
As the editor of the edition of 'The Gulf war did not take place' that I read showed; many people criticsed Baudrillard comparing him to a classical 'enlightenment' thinker like Noam Chomsky. But this edition then had a quote by Chomsky in the intro where he said it wasn't a 'war' because that conventionally meant two sides fighting against each other. Similarly, Baudrillard's point that we have all imagined the collapse of american empire; in a couple of different places in his work on US foreign policy Chomsky talks about the war mongers in Vietnam and what they said about the 'VC', hypothesising what they would have done if the VC had launched attacks in downtown New York.
Besides which, why should Baudrillard have to explain himself to you in any case? If we can't see through the oxymoronism of a 'War on Terrorism' we deserve to blown up in densly populated city centres like the sheep we are.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By another reader on Feb. 27 2007
Format: Paperback
About 9/11, B writes, "At a pinch we can say that they did it, but we wished for it. . . . We are far beyond ideology and politics now. . . .

As if the power bearing these towers suddenly lost all energy, all resilience; as though that arrogant power suddenly gave way under too intense an effort: the effort always to be the unique world model."

Despite the silliness of these ideas, here and there B does make an interesting point. But the book exists primarily to exhibit B's cleverness rather than to illuminate terrorism.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
"There's an end to all your talk about the virtual-this is something real!" (p.28) Jan. 26 2008
By a.k.a. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The violence of the real, or the reality of violence is the only thing power understands. Confronted with suicides, the system (indeed any system) begins to mimic suicide, ultimately committing itself to its own suicide.
I won't pretend to understand all of this great writer's words. Partly because my understanding of French is limited. Partly because I have only read a translation. And lastly because I have been fed oh so many Americanisms.
This is a good intro into exploring possible interpretations and misunderstandings embedded in our conceptions of the "World". Reading it has helped me to begin to demystify the political concept of Terrorism, especially its connotations within the virtual world of media discourse.
"To the point that the idea of freedom, a new and recent idea, is already fading from minds and mores, and liberal globalization is coming about in precisely the opposite form-a police state globalization, a total control, a terror based on 'law and order' measures. Deregulation ends up in a maximum of constraints and restrictions, akin to those of a fundamentalist society." (p.32 from the unrevised edition)
I would also recommend "The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomenon" (1993) by Jean Baudrillard.
31 of 45 people found the following review helpful
America March 24 2004
By steve - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Well, this is a very short book. If you arte not familiar with Baudrillard's academic social theory and philosophical works, much of the commentary may come across as superficial, cynical or just plain odd. The unreferenced paraphrasal of Clauschwitz's formula (earlier inverted by Foucault), the references to 'symbols' and death as 'sacrifice'; none of this will make any sense unless you have read Symbolic Exchange and Death, or Signs and Simulations, and like those english journos who reviewed 'The Gulf War did not take place' with similar ignorance, if you take it only at that level you will miss the whole point, and look like a stupid arse.
Sacrifice referes to his thesis in symbolic exchange and death that the only resistance to the 'system' is suicide, building on the third volume of Marx's Capital; so that dead labour now outweighs living labour, we all live in a world of death, the only refusal is to stop the system killin us.
As the editor of the edition of 'The Gulf war did not take place' that I read showed; many people criticsed Baudrillard comparing him to a classical 'enlightenment' thinker like Noam Chomsky. But this edition then had a quote by Chomsky in the intro where he said it wasn't a 'war' because that conventionally meant two sides fighting against each other. Similarly, Baudrillard's point that we have all imagined the collapse of american empire; in a couple of different places in his work on US foreign policy Chomsky talks about the war mongers in Vietnam and what they said about the 'VC', hypothesising what they would have done if the VC had launched attacks in downtown New York.
Besides which, why should Baudrillard have to explain himself to you in any case? If we can't see through the oxymoronism of a 'War on Terrorism' we deserve to blown up in densly populated city centres like the sheep we are.
Interesting and often sharp analysis from a thinker who is usually so easy to pillory as pissy, pompous and cheaply nihilistic March 29 2015
By jafrank - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In spite of my usual reservations about Baudrillard; the bitchy nihilism, the occasional whiny sense of futility, the smug dismissal of almost any perspective that isn't simply his, etc., I found these essays to be very sharp and still quite relevant to our current situation.

His conception of the relationship between terrorism and global power (i.e. the U.S.) is less dependent on a specific historical or religious or political reading than most leftist considerations, which makes it both suspect and also much more interesting, and frankly, harder to ignore. Aside from the irritating turns of phrase which tend to accompany most critical theory (many of which Baudrillard is famous for using in his own writing), his observations here are for the most part quite concrete, and show how completely confused and utterly ridiculous a lot of our conventional thinking is about terror in our age.

(I tried to come up with some witty, post-modern version of 'jet fuel can't melt steal beams for this review, but I failed. Sorry)
16 of 26 people found the following review helpful
America March 24 2004
By steve - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Well, this is a very short book. If you are not familiar with Baudrillard's academic social theory and philosophical works, much of the commentary may come across as superficial, cynical or just plain odd. The unreferenced paraphrasal of Clauschwitz's formula (earlier inverted by Foucault), the references to 'symbols' and death as 'sacrifice'; none of this will make any sense unless you have read Symbolic Exchange and Death, or Signs and Simulations, and like those english journos who reviewed 'The Gulf War did not take place' with similar ignorance, if you take it only at that level you will miss the whole point, and look like a stupid arse.
Sacrifice referes to his thesis in symbolic exchange and death that the only resistance to the 'system' is suicide, building on the third volume of Marx's Capital; so that dead labour now outweighs living labour, we all live in a world of death, the only refusal is to stop the system killin us.
As the editor of the edition of 'The Gulf war did not take place' that I read showed; many people criticsed Baudrillard comparing him to a classical 'enlightenment' thinker like Noam Chomsky. But this edition then had a quote by Chomsky in the intro where he said it wasn't a 'war' because that conventionally meant two sides fighting against each other. Similarly, Baudrillard's point that we have all imagined the collapse of american empire; in a couple of different places in his work on US foreign policy Chomsky talks about the war mongers in Vietnam and what they said about the 'VC', hypothesising what they would have done if the VC had launched attacks in downtown New York.
Besides which, why should Baudrillard have to explain himself to you in any case? If we can't see through the oxymoronism of a 'War on Terrorism' we deserve to blown up in densely populated city centres like the sheep we are.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Refreshing analysis of 9/11 Jan. 20 2011
By A. Sophocleous - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Baudrillard speaks both as a Westerner, yet outside of the discourse most Americans would be familiar with (Good vs Evil, Us vs Them, Democracy vs Funamentalism, Christians vs Muslims, "they hate us because we are free", etc). For those who only know these views, his ideas may come as a shock; for those who with to think freely (outside what others say we must think), his ideas are a breath of fresh air. The style of the book is accessible for those unfamiliar with Baudrillardian ideas/concepts, and in fact could be a way in to understanding what he means when he speaks of "simulation". A great read!


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