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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reading Eric Packer Through Baudrillard and Jesus

Samantha Morton as Vija Kinski
It was exhilarating ....to realize they'd been reading the same poetry he'd been reading.

He sat down long enough to take a web phone out of a slot and execute an order for more yen. He borrowed yen in dumbfounding amounts. He wanted all the yen there was. (C 97)

Here DeLillo follows Baudrillard who is following Marcuse who uses the metaphor of Pac-Man to describe the market's ability to absorb. Baudrillard labels it Deterrence, a balancing act.

Kinski was right....There was a shadow of transaction between the demonstrators and the state. The protest was a form of systemic hygiene, purging and lubricating. It attested again, for the ten thousandth time, to the market culture's innovative brilliance, its ability to shape itself to its own flexible ends, absorbing everything around it. (C 99)

The act of the Burning Man occurs.

What did this change? Everything, he thought. Kinski had been wrong. The market was not total. It could not claim this man or assimilate his act. Not such starkness and horror. This was a thing outside its reach.(C 99-100)  This is in the Order of Symbolic Exchange: Death as Impossible Exchange.

I would like to commemorate Kathy Change (Kathleen Chang) here, a performance artist and peace activist who immolated herself on the University of Pennsylvania campus on October 22, 1996. She was a lovely person who burned herself to death by the Peace sign on campus.

Vija: It's not original.
Eric: Hey, What's original. He did it didn't he?
Vija: It's an appropriation.
Eric: He poured the gasoline and lit the match.
Vija: All those Vietnamese monks, one after the another, in all their lotus positions.
Eric: Imagine the pain. Sit there and feel it.
Vija: Immolating themselves endlessly.
Eric: To make people think.
Vija: It's not original.




An original story?
The crucifixion of Jesus is neither especially original. Of suffering executed and resurrected god men in Antiquity we can list for example Herakles, Tammuz, Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Baal (Bel-Marduk), Mithra, Zarathustra, Odin (Wodan), Dionysos and Buddha.


Torval reports on the specific threat. Vija is delighted, Eric ...felt defined, etched sharply. He felt a burst of self-realization that heightened and clarified....It was twilight, only dimmer....He didn't know how long it was since he'd felt so good.... with the currency ticker restored to normal function, the yen showed renewed strength, advancing against the dollar in microdecimal increments every sextillionth of a second. This was good. This was fine and right. ....to see prices spiral into lubricious plunge. (C 102-106)


It is the terrorist model to bring about an excess of reality, and have the system collapse beneath that excess. - Baudrillard


Jesus  seems to fit this definition of terrorist. So does Eric Packer.







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