Volume 4, Number 3 (October 2007)
This remarkable little rant was posted on the Apocraphist Website on March 8, 2007: http://apocryphist.blogspot.com/search/label/Literature
Best known for devising the concept of the simulacrum and inventing the geodesic dome, Baudrillard spent years building a reputation as one of the densest and most paradoxical of modern thinkers. His theory that the world as we know it has been replaced with a false reality of manufactured images was simplified and adopted by such popular science-fiction films as Soylent Green and The Wedding Singer. But by far the most surprising detail about this man’s life and work is the fact that, like Jesus, he never actually walked the earth.
It’s long been known in the most concentric of literary circles that Baudrillard was a fictional character created by French deconstructionist Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), as the result of a drunken bet that he couldn’t come up with a writer capable of spewing even more garbled theory than himself. This would ordinarily be nothing more than an amusing anecdote in the history of bullshit, but for that the fact that Derrida himself was an invention of French post-structuralist Michel Foucault (1926-1984). As no one else during his lifetime was capable of following his circuitous prose, Foucault concocted Derrida as an imaginary friend, colleague, and occasional gay lover. The conceit stuck, however, and Derrida – like Baudrillard after him – became a notable public figure in his own right.
Foucault himself was the great-grandson of the Marquis de Follard, a 19th-century pedant who appeared throughout the French countryside dispensing phrases of mock wisdom filled with English malapropisms. Little biographical information exists concerning the Marquis, since he was a minor character in Charles Dickens’s little-read 1852 novel A Common Whimmletucket, which followed the adventures of young Horace Whimmletucket as he traversed the Continent pursuing the secret of his mysterious parentage. And since Dickens himself was a speculative creation of the ancient Athenian playwright Aristophanes, well, there you have it.
All of this was not so much predicted by Baudrillard’s corpus of learned obfuscation as accurately described after the fact. It takes a simulacrum to know a simulacrum, as the saying may or may not go, and Baudrillard was definitely maybe or maybe not one of them. Rest in peace, man who never was.