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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Reading Eric Packer As Baudrillardian Seer

Available at Amazon.com

Yes I said Packer is a seer. He is not a loser, nor a nihilist as Rob Pattinson has called him. And it is important to make his character crystal clear. Why? Because De Lillo has emerged as a great American writer  of his generation and has written clairvoyantly of our time.  His novels have predicted similar singular events that occur soon after their publication. The characters in his novels are now the subject of extensive academic writing, dissertations, theses, and numerous papers and books within the academic world. Eric Packer is consistently described in terms of his downfall: that is, losing all his billions betting on the yen. Not to mention his sexual exploits, all lumped together, undifferentiated, the same meaning attributed to each one, carbon copies of the same experience, as if he is a paid prostitute. Elise Shifrin is given short shrift as the estranged wife, one of his fucks for the day by academics, men and women, and cold and frigid by Pattinson girlfans. None of them are anywhere close.

My problem with this is not unlike my problem with Nietzsche, who is tagged with being a nihilist when he so emphatically counters this label in his The Genealogy of Morals in the last pages of this essay, one written near the end of his life. But Nihilist is pasted on him forever and anyone speaking or writing about him must continue to deal with the erroneous labeling.

I see this is going to happen with Eric Packer. Decades from now someone may think otherwise and present convincing evidence, but it will drop into the fold of the prevailing Discourse and be lost until another Foucault comes out of the intellectual woodwork to say and write otherwise.  All these writers, Schuster  in his book Don DeLillo, Jean Baudrillard, and the Consumer Conundrum  and http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=schuster+%2B+de+lillo&x=0&y=0

John N. Duvall's The Cambridge Companion to Don De Lillo  (composed of a different author on a wide variety of topics in each DeLillo novel) without exception do not acknowledge Eric Packer's great game playing heroism in the face of evil and ruinous, global cyber-capital speculation. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=+duvall+%2B+the+cambridge+companion+to+don+delillo&x=11&y=14

I am not saying he acts heroically, but instead acts within a game. He is in it to win it. And I see that I am going to have to go against heavy hitters to stake my claim on the character of Eric Packer. I think I have Cronenberg as a possible ally. One can read Cosmopolis through Baudrillard, but  one can also read it through eXistenZ, which is what I think Cronenberg will do in his upcoming film. And eXistenZ and Baudrillard can each be read through the other, illuminating both in a singular way, and taking the character of Eric Packer out of the psychological and interpretive dead end. After all DeLillo says through Packer that Freud is dead.

Available at Amazon.com

Available at Amazon.com
All these writers are incredibly intelligent, well acquainted with Lacan, Baudrillard, Virilio, Lyotard, and others. They all write within the interpretive, hermeneutic mode put to bed for good by Foucault. I am beginning to realize that if you come to Baudrillard without being first steeped in Foucault and his genealogical tool chest, as Baudrillard himself once was, then it is likely that Baudrillard's refusal to engage in the interpretive method, so completely a part of western thinking and writing since the Biblical commentaries, will not impact you enough to toss it as Baudrillard did in Forget Foucault.  It is painful to let it go as that is the mode in which we have all been educated. It is enchanting and seductive and allows us to feel how very intelligent we are as we read it and understand it. 

Here is Nietzsche on it:

We knowers are unknown to ourselves, and for a good reason: how can we ever hope to find what we have never looked for? There is a sound adage which runs:"Where a man's treasure lies, there lies his heart." Our treasure lies in the beehives of our knowledge. We are perpetually on our way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind. The only thing that lies close to our heart is the desire to bring something home to the hive. (preface The Genealogy of Morals)

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