Volume 4, Number 3 (October 2007)
Author: Emily Theriault
Jean Baudrillard could not have come into my life at a better time. Just when I had finally sorted out my personal values, political affiliations, and my opinions regarding everything from free trade to feminism, Baudrillard came along to tear down the walls that I had so carefully built up to protect my delicate world view.
My first encounter with Baudrillard was as an undergraduate – his collection of essays published in English as Screened Out. I was not sure what to think. Baudrillard’s passages thrilled and frightened my sensibilities and I found myself becoming attached to an author who was able to illicit many conflicting emotions. I then read his Cool Memories, Fatal Strategies, The Transparency of Evil, and other of his works.
While I appreciated Baudrillard’s role as challenger – he was not afraid to challenge the strict sense of political correctness that has come to police our every utterance – I was equally tentative about accepting Baudrillard at face value. I was cautious not only of what other academics might think but mainly by what Baudrillard might think of anyone who neglected to challenge his writing. I opted to resolve this dilemma by challenging both Baudrillard and his challengers in a term-long project focused on Baudrillard and “feminism”. His thought on feminism had been both praised and rejected – some even termed the work misogynistic. For my project, I adopted Baudrillard’s strategy of seductive analysis. Baudrillard’s Seduction taught me to both seek out and to challenge the dualism of good and evil and to seduce possibilities that we often mistake for truths. Ultimately, instead of having to settle on a disconcerting version of feminism, my encounter with Baudrillard led me to reclaim the word “feminist” – and to let every woman challenge and redefine it so as not to be simply defined by it.
It’s been over two years and a Masters degree since I worked with his texts but the Baudrillard effect continues. I still think about Baudrillard each day when I watch the news, read the paper, or when I observe heated academic debates. He led me to challenge both the protagonist and the antagonist – to force myself outside of any position. And then I think of Baudrillard and smile when I realize that all the while, through life and death, he’s still seducing me.
About the Author
Emily Theriault has recently completed her MA in Sociology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She expresses her gratitude to Dr. Gerry Coulter of Bishop’s University for exposing her to Baudrillard.