IJBS: Not Such A Bad Idea Afterall
Volume 10, Number 2 (July 2013)
Author: Dr. Gerry Coulter
There’s so many different worlds,
So many different suns,
And we have just one world,
But we live in different ones.
(Mark Knopfler, 1985)
Truth, Meaning, the Real, appear only locally, as partial objects
(Baudrillard  1994: 129-30).
With this, our twenty-second ‘issue’, the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies concludes its tenth year of publication. With the exception of 2007 and 2012 (when we posted three issues), IJBS has posted a new issue to the web (twice yearly) in January and July since 2004. IJBS began as one of those ideas that arrive in a flash of insight at 3am but usually seem much less brilliant or worthwhile with the coming of the dawn. I was up working in the middle of the night as my brain is wont to do, dragging the rest of me reluctantly along. I was reading an article in a paper publication called The Journal of Durkheim Studies, when the idea for a scholarly journal devoted to things ‘Baudrillard’ popped into my mind. After a good sleep, a late breakfast, and some consultation with my muse (I never do anything without her), it was decided that the idea for an International Journal of Baudrillard Studies was not such a bad idea afterall. It was mid December 2002. I contacted the original editorial board [experts in contemporary theory, many of whom had written a book about Baudrillard], and received an overwhelmingly positive response. Everyone I asked to join the original board did except one person who has quietly been supportive in the background from day one. It was decided that the first issue would be posted in January 2004. In the new year I took the train to Paris [I was on sabbatical in Strasbourg then], and met with Jean Baudrillard. We had drinks and a light lunch at Café Select (about two blocks from his home on Rue Sainte Beuve). Our meal included an interesting conversation concerning the university and the state of academe generally. We bonded in that hour [we two grandchildren children of peasants] and when I ran my idea for this very ironic enterprise past him the conversation concluded with Jean saying “this undertaking has my entire support”. He also agreed to sit on the original editorial board expressing his pleasure with the cast of characters I had already assembled for this task. He was very kind even in the presence of another virtual double he would have to encounter on the web.
Jean and I met several times in Paris in the years leading up to his death in 2007 but we only spoke of the journal in any depth once. In the summer of 2006, holding a print-out of the entire issue Volume 3-1 (January, 2006), heavily annotated in red ink by his hand, he told me that he was very pleased with the publication especially by the presence of one of his old foes, Julia Kristeva. He was also pleased to learn that Douglas Kellner was writing a piece for an upcoming issue and that the journal was embracing of criticism of his thought and writing. Criticism was a highly valued thing in Baudrillard’s universe, especially if the author had taken his work seriously. Taking Baudrillard seriously has been the quintessence of IJBS’s raison d’etre since its inception. The French intellectual publication Les Nouvel Observateur went out of its way to mention the quality of the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies and its exceptional merit as a North American publication (Aude Lancelin, “Le retour de Baudrillard” Les Nouvel Observateur, September 24, 2010. Francois L‘Yvonnet is quoted in the article crediting IJBS for posting articles which shine both a favourable and unfavourable light on Baudrillard’s thought. It is telling of the state of academic publishing in our time that such a lack of “patriotic fervour” is to be praised! And indeed, I have, from the first issue, steered the course of IJBS while following one strict rule: “Stay out of the way of the work (to be conducted under conditions of academic freedom) of editors and authors”. On one or two occasions this was not easy [the memorial issue, volume 4-3 comes to mind, where at least two writers did not miss the opportunity to (virtually) piss on Baudrillard’s grave]. If I have managed to do one thing exceptionally well, it has been precisely my keeping out of IJBS’s way and the journal is the better for it. I have reared this child following Dr. Benjamin Spock’s advice to parents in the 1960s [counsel on which I was brought up] “love it and leave it alone” and “don’t be afraid of your own common sense”. Twice a large journal publisher has offered to purchase IJBS – twice I have siad “no”.
We have never advertised IJBS beyond a few e-mail lists to those who might find it interesting and over time, by word of mouth, the journal has developed a very respectable readership. In the next few months the millionth hit (on articles and book reviews) will take place. By the end of year one we had accumulated about 12,000 hits; today IJBS articles and reviews take a combined 16,000 hits per month [or about 533 per day]. Anyone interested in a more detailed examination of the early days of IJBS, especially anyone are interested in launching a scholarly journal, should consult the following article: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0013.104?rgn=main;view=fulltext [“Launching (and Sustaining) a Scholarly Journal on the Internet”] which the editors of the Journal of Electronic Publishing invited me to write for them in 2010.
There are so many people to thank for the success of this project, their names appear at the top of every article and review, and the list of names on our Editorial Board page. My gratitude also extends to many others who do not appear there who have helped along the way [you know who you are]; and to Jean Baudrillard and his wife Marine; to Bishop’s; to our ever supportive former Principal Dr. Jonathan Rittenhouse; to our ITS Department for the use of the university server and to my many students some of whom met the journal as undergrads and now write from their own academic post; and to those remarkable academics from “Oz”. Thanks also to our many readers, several of whom have been kind enough to drop me a note of encouragement or criticism over the years. IJBS is better for all of it.
IJBS has respected the poetic, the reversible, and the enigmatic. It has never made a serious effort to disturb the “Truth”, hiding as it always does (along with its sister the “Real”), just beneath appearances. IJBS will continue to post twice yearly for as long as publishable papers arrive [we post about 40 per cent of papers we receive], and for as long as I am around. Ten years has not detracted one iota from this ironic labour of love – and there isn’t much in this world more ironic than an internet journal devoted to taking Baudrillard, and scholarship concerning his work, seriously.
Here’s to another ten years!
Lucerne, Switzerland (May, 2013)
About the Author
Gerry Coulter has written extensivley on theory, art, photography and Jean Baudrillard. His book Art In/After Poststructuralism: Responding to Baudrillard’s Challenge is forthcoming in early 2014 (Intertheory, USA). His book: Jean Baudrillard: From the Ocean to the Desert – The Poetics of Radicality (Intertheory, USA, 2012) is available at: http://intertheory.org/gerrycoulter.htm.
Jean Baudrillard ( 1994). Simulacra and Simulation, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
Mark Knopfler [and Dire Straits] 1985. “Brothers in Arms”. Straight Jacket Songs; Universal International; Warner Brothers; Mercury Records.