ISSN: 1705-6411
Volume 3, Number 1 (January 2006)
Author: Dr. Gary Genosko

Note: This essay is also published in Formless: Ways In and Out of Form, Patrick Crowley and Paul Hegarty (Eds). Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2005:91-103.

Long before 9/11/2001, the twin towers of the World Trade Center occupied an important place in Jean Baudrillard’s theory of simulation. Digitality haunts the third order of simulation, especially in the incessant, desperate probes of the social (imploded into the mass form) by means of referenda and the like. Representation passes into simulation and the only referent that remains is an imaginary one (silent majority eclipses the political substance of class, for instance). Baudrillard’s criticisms of polls, public opinion research, tests, and surveys all turn on the anterior finality, the front loading, of questions and answers: the question anticipates, absorbs and regurgitates the answer in a non-dialogical, non-representational, self-fulfilling “cycle of sense”. Answers, like events in relation to profiles, or identification in relation to verification, commission of an act in relation to its detection, are already accounted for (finality is there beforehand). This anticipatory dimension of the third order of simulation has been foregrounded by those attuned to the convergence of discourses of risk, surveillance and simulation.1

In this regard Baudrillard once used the twin towers of the World Trade Center as emblems of the binary matrix of digitality, the “divine form of simulation,” in which competition and referentiality were eclipsed by correlation and replication: “The two towers of the WTC are the visible sign of the closure of a system in the vertigo of redoubling, whereas the other skyscrapers are each the original moment of a system continually surpassing itself in crisis and challenge”.2 A perfect permutation in architecture of the digital code’s modulation across a field of dispersion from the micro to the macro level. And the twinness of the towers remain for Baudrillard the “perfect embodiment” of today’s “definitive world order/power”.3 But there is no longer at the macro level two superpowers. Binary regulation at this level is over in the triumph of global capitalism. Back in 1976 Baudrillard wrote: “Two superpowers are necessary in order to keep the universe under control: a single empire would collapse by itself”.4 And it is precisely this question of “collapse” that has animated Baudrillard’s theorization in the events of 9/11. Importantly, it is collapse or crumbling by itself that will prove to be the key challenge to understanding the spirit of symbolic exchange in Baudrillard’s account of the events of 9/11. What does it mean, then, for the emblem to have collapsed by itself?

In Donovan Hohn’s Pokemon-inspired partial translation of Baudrillard’s5 essay, “L’esprit du terrorisme,” in the pages of Harper’s magazine, the US, single global superpower, is a “hegemon” (changing an adjective to a noun, maybe even a name, in the process: puissance devenue à ce point hégémonique). The “hegemon’s” logo, the twin WTC towers, that incarnates its monopoly, will collapse, that is, self-destruct. It is not enough to claim that this destruction was dreamt even by those enjoying the spoils of global power, while getting their dose of culture at the cinema, but that it was complicitous in the collapse of its logo: “[Monopolistic power – sometimes referred to as the West by Baudrillard] is complicit in its own destruction.” Baudrillard’s choice language for describing collapse by itself is suicide: “when the two towers collapsed, you had the impression that they were responding to the suicide of the suicide planes [avions-suicides; not kamikazes in the historical sense] with their own suicides.” For it seemed to Baudrillard “as though” – hedging his bets – the twin towers, “by collapsing on their own, by committing suicide, had joined in to round off the event”.6 Let’s revisit the significance of suicide in Baudrillard’s theoretical vocabulary.

Suicide was a superior kind of subversion in Baudrillard’s politics of symbolic exchange circa the mid-1970s. What made suicide subversive and, in reverse, made all subversion suicidal,7 was that it escaped the monopolistic control over death exercised by contemporary societies of simulation through their sanctioned institutions (which prohibit suicide and either try to exclude symbolic relations or simulate them). Baudrillard was not interested in demands of bourgeois individuals, beseeching doctors of death, for “quality” deaths exchangeable for terminal comfort. In this regard death was, like labour power, a “parcel” that could be exchanged, or more generally, converted into value. Suicide made death inconvertible and disorganized the determinacy of value, in these terms: “through suicide, the individual tries and condemns society in its own terms, by reversing the authorities – it reinstates reversibility where it had completely disappeared and, at the same time, it regains the upper hand”.8

Generally, Baudrillard attempts to recover death and use it as a symbolic counter-gift that forces modern institutions, unilaterally giving the gifts of work as a slow death, blackmail through social security, and the maternal ambiance of consumption, to receive and respond to in kind with their own deaths. Summoning the code or the system or global power, in Baudrillard’s shifting rhetorics, to receive the counter-gift makes it strange to itself (suicide wrests something away from the very Thanatos centres that monopolize death, authorize it, confirm or deny it, and statistically entomb the dead, while ghettoizing them in cemeteries) in being drawn into the symbolic sphere in which exchange is dominated by a form of sociation, a obligatory circuit of giving, receiving, responding in kind and with interest. In anthropological contents borrowed from Marcel Mauss, among others, the failure to receive the counter-gift and repay in kind is loss of face – spirit, wealth, health, rank and power.

One of the ways in which death may be regained is through ritual. Baudrillard appropriates from anthropological sources symbolically significant practices (initiation rites of the Sara in Chad9 ) that he adapts to his own ends, underlining that death is not biological (against its medicalization and recycling) but fundamentally social and initiatic (involving the “symbolic” social death and rebirth of the initiates as they pass, for instance, from the feminine world of childhood/adolescence into the masculine world of adulthood), a rite involving a reciprocal-antagonistic exchange between otherwise separated (barred) domains (life/death). Baudrillard extends this analysis to the desocialization and ghettoization of the dead in the West and tries to lift the social control over death that separates it from life because it is from this separation that all subsequent alienations arise.

In these terms, then, the suicide planes that embedded themselves in the twin towers of the WTC were symbolic forces of disorder issuing counter-gifts of mass death. The spirit of terrorism is that of symbolic exchange: “the terrorist hypothesis is that the system itself will commit suicide in response to the multiples challenges posed by deaths and suicides”.10 But it is not so much that death is controlled but rather that it is excluded in the monopoly of global power of the “good, transparent, positive, West,” a system whose ideal is “zero death,” as Baudrillard puts it, and which at all costs neutralizes the symbolic stakes of reversibility and challenge. To which the terrorists respond with a “counter-offensive” (having shifted from the language of the counter-gift to that of the reintroduction of “singularity”) of suicide: of symbolic and sacrificial death, “much more than real.” A kind of death that the West cannot grasp except by placing a value on it, by “calculating” its exchange (against Paradise; against support for their families through individual heroic martyrdom, etc.).

It is 1976 again for Baudrillard at least in theory for “The Spirit of Terrorism” is a page out of L’échange symbolique et la mort: “Never attack the system,” he writes in the former essay, “in terms of relations of force. That is the (revolutionary) imagination the system itself forces upon you – the system which survives only by constantly drawing those attacking it into fighting on the ground of reality, which is always its own”.11 Or in the earlier book, “we will never destroy the system by a direct, dialectical revolution of the economic or political infrastructure … We will never defeat it according to it own logic… We will never defeat the system in the sphere of the real which is always the reality of the system”.12 And in The Spirit of Terrorism the same advice: “…[the system ] survives  only by constantly drawing those attacking it to fight on the ground of reality, which is always its own”.13 Again, in L’échange symbolique: “We must therefore displace everything into the sphere of the symbolic, where challenge, reversal and overbidding are the law [loi], so that we can respond to death only by an equal or superior death”.14 To wit, in Spirit: “Shift the struggle into the symbolic sphere, where the rule is that of challenge, reversion and outbidding. So that death can be met only by equal or greater death. Defy the system by a gift to which it cannot respond except by its own death and its own collapse”.15 And finally, in the earlier book: “If domination comes from the system’s retention of the exclusivity of the gift without counter-gift… then the only solution is to turn the principle of its power back against itself…: to defy the system with a gift to which it cannot respond save by its own collapse and death”.16 Written twenty-five years later but in the same words almost to the letter, Baudrillard’s essay on 9/11 reanimates a theory that had, if we believe Mike Gane,17 already been “replaced by a theory of forms, particularly of seduction and fatal strategies,” or, at a minimum, “some of the forms he previously lodged in the symbolic have been rediscovered in the extreme phenomena of the cosmic order”18 [i.e., uncertainty]. This was true until 9/11 in which all of the, to use Gane’s words, “romance and nostalgia” of the symbolic returned with a vengeance. I agree with Gane that we are dealing with a “form” but it is in a tradition that he does not want to recognize. More on this shortly.

Let’s first revisit the theorization of the twin towers’ collapsing by themselves. The challenge of the symbolic counter-gift obliges the global superpower, through its emblem, to collapse. The question is, it seems, one of “obligation”:  “the terrorist hypothesis is that the system itself will commit suicide in response to the multiple challenges posed by deaths and suicides. For there is a symbolic obligation upon both the system and power…”19 Responding in kind or with interest is obligatory, just as for Mauss the circuit of gift exchange, as a spiritual mechanism (one dimension of the “esprit” of terrorism), was defined by three closely related obligations: to give, receive and return (or in terms of the three verbs: donner, rendre, échanger).20 But does obligation function in the mode of the “as though/if”?

The question Baudrillard has never been able to adequately address is what forces the recipient of the counter-gift to respond in kind? In what sense can the global superpower be compelled to respond in this manner? Isn’t the will of a global power to oblige others rather than to experience obligations of any sort, except, perhaps, those of its own design? Does fear of the power of the gift to destroy those who receive it without respecting the obligation to return it carry enough force to bring about collapse? Reversibility is embedded in formal relations and this makes the symbolic explanation of why the towers collapsed by themselves somewhat formalistic: it was as if they were fulfilling an obligation to return something; it was as if they understood the rules of the game. We must not forget to read Baudrillard’s account of 9/11 in the mode of the “as though/if”: this keeps one from the incorrect idea that Baudrillard is simply trying to adapt the circuit of gift exchange to the society of simulation; a positive statement of this assumption is satisfying even in its erroneousness because it reproduces the moral conclusions of Mauss’s work with regard to his own society: “The themes of the gift … are reappearing in French society” as the “old principles” return as social security21 ; the further one moves from it, however, the more uncertain becomes the mode in which the hypothesis may be understood. Is it social science fiction, pataphysics, radical criticism, etc.? What is evident is that Baudrillard refuses morals for the sake of forms like reversibility and in this way he avoids committing to specific explanatory contents. Victoria Grace22 is undoubtedly correct to underline that the symbolic does not produce “positive” knowledge. One wonders whether Andy Wernick’s23 sense that “the counter-gift Baudrillard chooses to offer is simply that of his own – mimetically ‘excessive’ – practice of theory” can answer the puzzling question of the mode of the “as though/if.” The question of obligation is a complex one and I cannot do it justice here24 . Two examples should suffice to show the proper mode in which Baudrillard’s account is presented. Let’s devolve momentarily into “bad” biology.

“Nothing, not even the system can escape the symbolic obligation…. Scorpionization of the system encircled by the challenge of death”.25 The claim is that the so-called “system,” the global superpower, turns on itself like a scorpion when faced with the challenge of death in the form of the counter-gift. Scorpions do not, however, commit suicide but, on occasion, in a frenzy of stinging, fatally immolate themselves. In other words they are not fulfilling an obligation, even though Baudrillard used this example to make precisely the opposite claim. Another version of this bestiary concerns ancient accounts, and seventeenth century debunkings of them, of beavers which castrate themselves when cornered by a hunter.26 Bad biology is not fatal to Baudrillard’s thinking about the symbolic. Instead, it is distilled into a “form,” for example, “reversibility is a form …Forms are something which we play out,” Baudrillard has commented in an interview.27 Forms are like rules that are simply played out by conformity (in Baudrillard’s estimation games are nothing but their rules; one is obligated to play within their terms; in this sense “rule” is another expression of obligation and “game” is the form of seduction). These forms are also indestructible and hence have a timelessness about them.28 Although symbolic exchange has become nearly impossible in the time of hyperhegemony, the return of this form of reciprocal exchange is terrible; one might suggest, echoing Baudrillard, that reversibility is of the order of terror (the symbolic is today a terrorist hypothesis). While throughout his work Baudrillard has tried to provide examples of symbolic reversibility through diverse analyses of language, hostage taking, etc., he has always found it difficult to provide precise examples, that is, to give content (like the scorpion) to the form.

Symbolic exchange is not based on positive knowledge just as terrorist violence is not, qua symbolic, based in the real. Rather, as Baudrillard clarifies: “The terrorist violence… is not ‘real’. In a sense, it is worse: it is symbolic. Violence in itself may be perfectly banal and inoffensive. Only symbolic violence is generative of singularity”.29 Worse than real: the symbolic. Why? Because it is beyond the real/imaginary distinction, beyond all the disjunctions and separations and splittings that follow from the irreversiblity and individuality of death against life, the fascination with which it brings to an end, but in the unnerving modality of “as though/if”: the twin towers collapsed by themselves as though in a response in kind to the challenge of the suicide planes. In a nutshell: disjunctivity with any content is shattered by acts of symbolic exchange because it takes away the ability to separate the terms in a structure in which each term is the imaginary of the other (the real is thus an effect of all such disjunctions). The Baudrillardian symbolic returns each side of a disjunct to its other, to the excluded term which haunts its opposite, exchanged and soluble in symbolic reversibility. This occurs at the cost of the real for it is only by definition an effect of the structure of disjunction.

Obligatory reversibility, Baudrillard underlines, in the form of the counter-gift of death, is the meaning of symbolic exchange.30 But the death in question is a “form.” One of the most poorly understood dimensions of Baudrillard’s thought is precisely this notion of “form.” This may be the result of Baudrillard’s Durkheimian reception in social theory and the foregrounding of Mauss to whose exchange theory Baudrillard’s debts are obvious, but to which they are not reducible. With one or two buried exceptions31 readers of Baudrillard have ignored the obvious evocation of Simmel with the idea that death is a form; yet even in such rare instances no attention is paid to the explicit problem of form as Baudrillard used the term in his theory of symbolic exchange. Instead the emphasis is placed on a postmodern theory of culture.

This does not make Baudrillard a Simmelian sociologist. It does place him in the formalist sociological tradition of Simmel, and, to a certain degree Tönnies, and McLuhan. Symbolic exchange is a relational, better, reciprocal form of sociation, that is, a way of interaction. But it is not both separation and combination; it is only combination that overcomes separation (disjunction) through certain acts (contents). The obligatory reversibility of death is a form of sociation that for Baudrillard is paradigmatic because it alone can overcome the impasses, the barriers of non-circulation, the exclusion of all negativity in the fundamentalist positivity which is the time of the hyperhegemony of global capitalism. Simmel’s awkward separation of the relative categories of form and content and his efforts to think their relation dynamically (diverse interests giving rise to identical forms of sociation; identical interests taking on quite different forms), has created intractable problems of interpretation around the precise character and adequacy of his method (sociology proceeds, Simmel thought in inaugurating the paradox of structuralism, like a grammar “which isolates the pure forms of language from their contents through which these forms, nevertheless, come to life”.)32 The most intractable problem being the method of “abstracting/extricating” from socio-historical reality the forms found therein without reducing the process to generalization or mirroring by acknowledging the distortion of forms in their materialization and the exaggeration of them in their abstraction; from “fragments” one produces “absolute lines and figures”.33 The problem of the relative freedom of form (its “persistence” and “dignity”) from material content – yet, as in the relation between speech and language, their relative dependency in form’s inherence in historical contents (social situations) –  causes no end of conceptual difficulties. These problems are illustrative of Baudrillard’s theorization of symbolic exchange as a stable form of sociation. The gift of life as a deferred death – the violent counter-gift [of the suicide planes] – and response in kind [in the tower’s collapse] – is a form which Baudrillard has attempted to elucidate over the course of his career with diverse socio-historical, one might even say empirical, contents, the most recent being 9/11. One important implication is that Baudrillard’s theory does not rest solely on the reproduction of the same motivations as contents in contemporary as in archaic examples of the form of the symbolic (i.e., the loss of face/honor as the factor that carries obligation forward, even if Baudrillard does consider this to be present in a degree insofar as the adversary is made to “lose face” and experience “humiliation”). Understood radically, abstraction as a method means just this:  independence from the perspective of content.34 And Baudrillard already sought to vouchsafe this independence by defining games in terms of the symbolic in his book Seduction.35  But from another perspective, what makes the deaths of the terrorists symbolic is that they are inseparable from their actions: only death seals the “pact” between adversaries; it cannot be autonomised or reified as a “parcel”.36

Readers of Baudrillard recognize the meagerness of such contents drawn from across many fields and involving quite different motivations, institutions and cultures (anthropological examples; counter-linguistic examples; political examples). The objective structure of this form has persisted, however, and been supplemented along the way of its theoretical elaboration, waxing and waning in different periods since the 1970s. From Simmel we learn it is not the frequency of forms that gives them validity. With the events of 9/11, however, the form finds a concrete historical realization in a situation defined by terror, of breaking the monopoly of global power to issue all determinations of value and uphold the separation of life and death through the “strategy of zero death”. That the form is operative in specific interactions is developed quite clearly by Baudrillard in his sense of the collective, obligatory, symbolic pact of the terrorists deploying contemporary technologies (rejecting all the “bad faith” arguments about their motivations), linking these to other suicide-bombings (Palestinians, etc). Yet there is undoubtedly more than one form operative in the complex events of 9/11. But it is the symbolic form that interests Baudrillard and this becomes for him paradigmatic because it renders the events intelligible without exhausting them (it reveals what is not obvious), and he claims to have found its principles at work in the actors (the symbolic efficacy of death for the hijackers and, strangely, in the collapse of the twin towers themselves). Of course, Baudrillard has surpassed Simmel in making the symbolic exchange of death a form of forms, the master form, but with the proviso that it is augmented and modified by that upon which it depends: the form of sociation that is the domination of global capital and the expulsion of negativity, death, Evil, singularity, and the active neutralization, exclusion and simulation of the very idea of a symbolic pact that transfigures the “real”.37 If Baudrillard once thought that symbolic material could be anything (anything that seals a pact from which it is inseparable) – from a wedding ring to anagrammatic dispersion without remainder in a poem – then death as suicide has now surely regained a place of unrivalled privilege.

Baudrillard also reads Simmel against himself by deploying the relative stability of a symbolic death-form as an agency of deformation: society, Simmel thought, comes into being through its forms but, with Baudrillard’s reversal, the society of simulation that capitalizes life is deformed by the challenge of the symbolic counter-gift of the suicide planes and the collapse by itself of its emblem. The symbolic form of sociation delivers death by suicide as the obligatory principle of deformation understood as collapse and crumbling. The form generates deformation that takes place by itself; the form comes to life, if you will, not through extermination but in the collapse of the superpower-adversary’s emblem.

The mode of the “as though/if” would be, then, the analogical “objective structure” of the events of 9/11, the formal rules of the adversarial relationship in which the form of symbolic sociation was fully realized by the terrorists and the responses of the global superpower, and the perfect determination of the materiality of the events by the privileged form of symbolic exchange. This is the illusion, then, of the dialectical perfection (“mutual determination”) of form and content: the form of death that is determined by the flux of life that is itself determined by the supreme symbolic form, death.  A definitive lifting of the bar between life and death: a symbolic solution.

Without trapping ourselves in content (the minutiae of the War on Terrorism, which Baudrillard considers symbolically inadequate, especially the bombing of Afghanistan), and without regressing into the logic of equivalence that would annul the principle of symbolic exchange, one question remains: is there an adequate symbolic response to the collapse of the twin towers that would acknowledge the continuing circulation of the suicidal death-form?  Analogically, that is, in the mode of the “as though/if,” acceptance of the counter-gift was signaled with the collapse of twin towers; the circuit of exchange picks up again with an inadequate return in the bombing of Afghanistan and war against Iraq. Everywhere – in the language of collateral damage, zero kill, ascendancy of the financially-driven rhetoric of the transparent over the opaque (even in the time of Enron, WorldCom, and corporate corruption no cave will remain unexplored, no mountain pass unreconnoitered, no locked Iraqi door unopened), and all the artificial protections with which America and her allies inoculate themselves against the least threat to their immune systems – there is evidence of the denial of the symbolic obligation.38 This hopeless positivity, passion for prophylaxis, clean bombs and transparent accounting practices (all shady dealings being henceforth linkable to terrorism, if necessary), in themselves seem to constitute an impediment to the merest glimmer of an answer.  Borrowing a clue from Simmel’s39 understanding of the feelings of faithfulness and gratitude, in contrast to economic exchange, as preservers of relationships that work toward the interior, thus preventing the objectification (exteriorization) of human relations into relations between goods, an answer might consist in a form, like an affective factor, conceived of independently of the events of 9/11 that raised the question of return, and which it survives, that would maintain the circuit of sociation and preserve its intensity. Such an answer would be found in a formal grammar itself disimbricated from the events and the forced time-horizon of any and every military return, but which would allow the symbolic circuit to live on. We do not know when the occasion will arise and what it will be for the reciprocal return for this relation is neither finite nor reducible (isolatable content) to a thing, object or event.

And so, we wait, as does the deforming form.

About the Author:
Gary Genosko is Canada Research Chair in Sociology and Associate Professor of Sociology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. He is author of Baudrillard and Signs: Significations Ablaze, London:Routledge, 1994; Undisciplined Theory, London: Sage, 1998; McLuhan and Baudrillard: Masters of Implosion, London: Routledge, 1999; The Uncollected Baudrillard, London: Sage, 2001. He is editor of The Semiotic Review of Books and an editor of IJBS.


1 – William Bogard. The Simulation of surveillance: Hypercontrol in telematic societies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

2 – Jean Baudrillard. L’échange symbolique et la mort, Paris: Gallimard, 1976:108 [Symbolic Exchange and Death, translated by Iain Hamilton Grant, London: Sage, 1993:70].

3 –  Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism, London: Verso, 2002:6.

4 –  Jean Baudrillard. L’échange symbolique et la mort, Paris: Gallimard, 1976:107

Michel de Certeau mythologized the summit of the World Trade Centre as the pedestrian’s visionary “solar Eye,” labeling it a simulacrum (“imaginary totalization”) that removed one from the mobile and opaque, that is, blind practices of space in which he was interested. Still, the twin towers were for De Certeau “the most monumental figure of Western urban development,” exemplary as they were for Baudrillard (even if they had surpassed verticality in their identicality). No thought of collapse in De Certeau, though. See de Certeau. The Practice of Everyday Life,  translated by Steven Rendall, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984:92.

But for Baudrillard monopoly stabilizes and completes itself in a tactical duopoly: that is why the WTC has two towers. The emergence of the US as the global superpower, stabilizing itself in its blind communicating vessels of the WTC, was without a geopolitical and ideological balance after the collapse of the Soviet empire. The most visible architectural emblem of stable duopoly remained without an accompanying macro-global power. A breach was thus opened in the network of the binary matrix at the level of global superpowers. [“Two superpowers are necessary to keep the universe under control: a single empire would crumble by itself.” See Jean Baudrillard. Symbolic Exchange and Death, London: Sage, 1993:69 (Ed.)]

5 -Jean Baudrillard. “L’esprit du terrorisme,” translated by Donovan Hohn, Harper’s, February 2002:13-18.

6 – Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism. London: Verso, 2002:8.

7 – Jean Baudrillard. L’échange symbolique et la mort, Paris: Gallimard, 1976 :267-8 [Symbolic Exchange and Death, translated by Iain Hamilton Grant, London: Sage, 1993:176].

8Ibid.:267 [175].

9 – See Gary Genosko. Undisciplined Theory, London: Sage, 1998:31ff.

10 – Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism. London: Verso, 2002:17.


12 – Jean Baudrillard. L’échange symbolique et la mort, Paris: Gallimard, 1976:62 [Symbolic Exchange and Death, translated by Iain Hamilton Grant, London: Sage, 1993:36].

13 – Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism. London: Verso, 2002:17.

14 – Uncharacteristically, there is a confusion between a standard Baudrillardian distinction between the law (transcendent; necessary; constraints) and the rule (immanent; arbitrary; obligations) across the descriptions of symbolic obligation written in 1976 and 2001.

15 – Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism. London: Verso, 2002:17.

16 -Jean Baudrillard. L’échange symbolique et la mort, Paris: Gallimard, 1976:63-64 [Symbolic Exchange and Death, translated by Iain Hamilton Grant, London: Sage, 1993:37].

17 – Mike Gane. Jean Baudrillard: In Radical Uncertainty, London: Pluto Press, 2000:103.


19 – Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism. London: Verso, 2002:17-18.

20 -Jean Baudrillard. L’échange symbolique et la mort, Paris: Gallimard, 1976:214 [Symbolic Exchange and Death, translated by Iain Hamilton Grant, London: Sage, 1993:139].

21 – Marcel Mauss, The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies, translated by W.D. Halls, New York: Norton, 1990:67 ff.

22 – Victoria Grace, Baudrillard’s Challenge: A Feminist Reading, London: Routledge, 2000:26.

23 – Andrew Wernick “Bataille’s Columbine: The Sacred Space Of Hate,” C Theory, Article AO76, 1999:

24 – See Gary Genosko. Undisciplined Theory, London: Sage, 1998:25-27.

25 – Jean Baudrillard. L’échange symbolique et la mort, Paris: Gallimard, 1976:64 [Symbolic Exchange and Death, translated by Iain Hamilton Grant, London: Sage, 1993:37].

26 – Gary Taylor. Castration: An Abbreviated History of Western Manhood, New York: Routledge, 2000:47.

27 – Roy Boyne and Scott Lash,  “Symbolic Exchange: Taking Theory Seriously, An Interview with Jean Baudrillard,” Theory, Culture & Society 12/4, 1995:89.


29 – Jean Baudrillard. The Spirit of Terrorism. London: Verso, 2002:29.

30 – Jean Baudrillard. L’échange symbolique et la mort, Paris: Gallimard, 1976:12, n. 2 [Symbolic Exchange and Death, translated by Iain Hamilton Grant, London: Sage, 1993:5 n. 1].

31 – See Jonathan S. Epstein and Margarete J. Epstein “Fatal Forms: Toward a (neo) Formal Sociological Theory of Media Culture,” in Baudrillard: A Critical Reader, Douglas Kellner (ed.), Oxford: Blackwell,1994:135-49; and Deena Weinstein and Michael A Weinstein, Postmodern(ized) Simmel, London: Routledge, 1993.

32 – Georg Simmel. The Sociology of Georg Simmel, translated by Kurt H. Wolff, New York: The Free Press, 1950:22.


34 – F.H. Tenbruck.  “Formal Sociology,” in Georg Simmel, Lewis A. Coser (ed.), Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1965:78; and Deena Weinstein and Michael A Weinstein,  Postmodern(ized) Simmel, London: Routledge, 1993:11.

35 – Jean Baudrillard. Seduction, translated by Brian Singer, Montreal: New World Perspectives, 1990:132 ff.


37 – Baudrillard integrates the accursed share from Bataille as a “theorem” that is essentially  a supplement of the symbolic: “Anything that purges the accursed share in itself signs its own death warrant.” See: Jean Baudrillard. The Transparency of Evil, translated by James Benedict, London: Verso, 1993:106.

38 – I have previously explained the terms of Baudrillard’s theory of terrorism up to the period of the Gulf War. See: Gary Genosko. Baudrillard and Signs, London: Routledge, 1994:93-104.

39 -Georg Simmel, The Sociology of Georg Simmel, translated by Kurt H. Wolff, New York: The Free Press, 1950:379ff.