Thursday, September 16, 2021

Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil (Integral Reality)

"The Intelligence of Evil or The Lucidity Pact" by Jean Baudrillard, read by Steady Delta
Chapter 1- Integral Reality

What I call integral reality is the perpetrating on the world of an unlimited operational project whereby everything becomes real, everything becomes visible and transparent, everything is liberated, everything comes to fruition and has a meaning. Whereas it is in the nature of meaning that not everything has it. Whereby there is no longer anything on which there is nothing to say.

The disappearance of God has left us facing reality, and the ideal prospect of transforming this real world, and we have found ourselves confronted with the undertaking of realizing the world, of making it become technically, integrally, real.
 
Now the world, even freed from all illusion, does not lend itself at all to reality. The more we advance in this undertaking, the more ambiguous it becomes. The more it loses sight of itself, reality has barely had time to exist and already it is disappearing. The reality that has invented itself over recent centuries and which we have elevated into a principle is now dying out. To wish to revive it at all costs as a reference or a moral value is a mistake since the principle is dead. What we see now behind the eclipses of the objective real is the rise of integral reality, of a virtual reality that rests on the deregulation of the very reality principle. We shall never get back beyond that blind spot, that unlocated point with the real ceased to be real. That which is real exists. That is all we can say. But existence isn't everything. It is even the least of things. Let us be clear about this when we see reality has disappeared. The point is not that it has disappeared physically, but that it has disappeared metaphysically. Reality continues to exist. It is its principle that is dead.

Now, reality without its principle is no longer the same at all if, for many different reasons, the principle representation which alone gives it a meaning falters. Then the whole of the real falters, or rather it exceeds its own principle and enters upon an unrestrained expansion no longer governed by any rule. Objective reality, reality related to meaning and representation, gives way to integral reality, a reality without limits in which everything is realized and technically materialized without reference to any principles or final purpose whatever. Integral reality involves then the murder of the real, the loss of any imagination of the real.
The imaginary, which we happily associated with the real as its friendly shadow, vanishes in this same process. Integral reality has no imaginary, just as liberation no longer has anything to do with the play of freedom, the freedom of a subject wrestling with himself, which implies among other things that one remains free to be free, which is not the case in the present circumstances of unconditional liberation, just as verification puts an end to the workings of truth, for truth, if it exists, is something to be fought over. Whereas verification transforms it into a fait accompli. So we have moved from reality as principal, and as concept, to the technical realization of the real and its performance...

[inserted video clip of Warren Buffett CNBC interview]
Buffett: ...it is very active and trying to be helpful on this and and they'll says the CDC is the best in the world and I mean we've got terrific resources in this country but a pandemic is a pandemic and.. and... there's just no evaluating... and.. but I have heard that the summer is not likely to cause the end of this.

Reporter: Do you know why?

Buffett: But I don't know and... you know... you shouldn't be asking I...I....I... shouldn't be offering my opinion on it because I... I... pass along things right here from people I think are smart, but I know that there... that... that is... something they've always spent they've been very involved in as human health and... and... and... and even particularly this. Bill knows a lot about vaccines...
{Insert BBC News clip}
Reporter: Italy's government has over night announced a massive shutdown across the country as it struggles to cope with coronavirus.

Interviewee: ...and I think what you're gonna see is a new normal. We're going to see quarantined in this country over the next several weeks. Our way of life will change.
[Baudrillard resumes]
 
...And yet there are no proofs of this reality's existence and there never will be any more than there are proofs of the existence of God. It is like God a matter of faith, and when you begin to believe in it, this is because it is already disappearing. It is when one is no longer sure of the existence of God, or when one has lost the naive faith in a self-evident reality, that it becomes absolutely necessary to believe in it.

[inserted quote in video]: "The federal government can demand stepped-ip enforcement of quarantines and isolation orders if it finds states haven't acted forcefully enough... But the limits of such power aren't clear. "The extent of federal power has never been tested in a public health crises..."
-Efthimios Parasidis, Ohio State University.
(Bloomberg)

We invested reality with the whole of our imaginary. But it is this imaginary that is vanishing, since we no longer have the energy to believe in it. Even the will has gone out of it. The passion for reality and the passion for truth have gone. All that remains is a duty of reality, a duty of truth.
 
[Inserted quote in video]: At Deutsche Bank AG, global head of currency research George Saravelos has a wish list that includes fiscal stimulus "on the order of magnitude of the Lehman crisis, above 1% of global GDP," he wrote in a note on Monday. Central banks should "offer to buy risky assets including equities and corporate bonds, at least temporarily, and as soon as this week," he added, in order to alleviate liquidity risks in markets.
(Bloomberg)

Henceforth we must believe in it, as doubt sets in everywhere as a product of the failure of the systems of representation reality becomes an absolute imperative. It becomes the foundation of a moral order. But neither things nor people obey a reality principle or a moral imperative. It is the excess of reality that makes us stop believing in it.

The saturation of the world, the technical saturation of life, the excess of possibilities, of actualization of needs and desires. How are we to believe in reality once its production has become automatic?

The real is suffocated by his own accumulation. There is no way now for the dream to be an expression of a desire, since its virtual accomplishment is already present. Deprivation of dreams, deprivation of desire. And we know what mental disorder sleep deprivation induces. Deep down the problem is the same as with the accursed share, the problem of the surplus, not the lack, but the excess of reality, of which we no longer know how to rid ourselves.

There is no longer any symbolic resolution by sacrifice of the surplus except in accidents, or by the eruption of an anomalous violence which, whatever its social or political determinations, is always a challenge to this irresistible, objective constraint of a normalized world, effectuating, materializing, realizing, producing. It seems to be the ideal destination of everything. To pass from the stage of possibility, to that of reality in a movement of simultaneous progress and internal necessity. All needs, all desires, all potentialities tend towards this objective sanction, this litmus test.

It is the same path that seems to doom appearances and illusion to vanish in the face of the truth. Perhaps this reality is a dream. In that case, the real is part of our imaginary and realizing everything is akin to an Universal fulfillment of desire.

But today we are living through a turnabout that makes this Universal fulfillment appear like a negative destiny, a catastrophic truth test. The excess of reality in all its forms, the extension of all possibilities, is becoming unbearable. Nothing is left now to the contingency of a destiny or to the non satisfaction of desire.

Is this turn, this catastrophic conversion of effects, itself a perverse effect? Does it come under the heading of catastrophic theory? Or is it part of a universal acting out, an inflexible logic of world processing, the outcome of which it is impossible to predict. Acceptance of a definitive reality of the collapse of that same reality doomed to destruction by its very excess and perfection.

The eclipse of God left us up against reality. Where will the Eclipse of reality leave us? Do we have a negative destiny or quite simply the absence of a destiny? The coming of a relentless banality linked to the integral calculus of reality? Destiny has not pronounced its last word. It can be felt at the very heart of this integral realization. At the heart of this power, in that internal convulsion that follows out its logic and hastens its effects in that Maleficent reversal of the structure itself that transforms a positive destination into a murderous finality.

This is where the very principle of evil lies and where the intelligence of evil must come into play. Let us suppose two antagonistic trends. Integral reality the irreversible movement toward the totalization of the world, the dual form, the reversibility internal to the irrevocable movement of the real. It seems evolution or involution towards an integral universe is irresistible. But it seems at the same time, that the dual form is indestructible. There is no way for us to guess how this contradictory double movement will work itself out. We are faced with a confrontation between a dual form and total integration which cannot be resolved.

But only in appearance is there no solution, since this confrontation is constantly prey to a secret disintegration, to a descent working away at it from the inside. It is the global violence imminent in the world system itself, which from within sets the purest symbolic form of the challenge against it. There is no way to see a reconciliation here and in all lucidity, there is nothing to tell us which force is the likely winner. Not from impartiality, since secretly we have already taken sides, but out of an awareness of the inevitability of this eternal divergence this insuperable antagonism. The integral drive and the dual drive.This is the great game.

The very idea of completion of integral reality is unbearable, but the dual form, the form that denies any final reconciliation any definitive accomplishment is also very difficult, and perhaps even impossible to conceive in its radicalism. And yet it is in this lucid vision of an endless reversion, in this denial of any objective solution, that the intelligence of evil, if it exists, is grounded. Any questioning of reality, of its obviousness and its principle, is deemed unacceptable and condemned as negationist.

The charge against you, "what do you make of reality of misery, suffering, and death?" Now it isn't about taking sides on material of violence or on the violence of misfortune, it is about a line you are forbidden to cross, the line marking a taboo on reality. A taboo also on even the slightest attempt at interfering with a clear division between good and evil on pain of being regarded as a scoundrel or an imposter.

The affirmation or contestation of reality, of the reality principle, is then a political choice and almost a religious one, in that any infringement of this principle is sacrilegious. The very hypothesis of simulation being perceived deep down as diabolical.

It takes up where heresy left off in the archeology of the thinking of evil. The reality fundamentalists equipped themselves with the form of magical thinking that confuses message and messenger. If you speak of the simulacrum, then you are a simulator. If you speak of the virtuality of war, then you are in league with it, and have no regard for the hundreds of thousands of dead.

Any analysis other than the moral is condemned as deluded or irresponsible. Now if reality is a question of belief and all the signs that attested to it have lost their credibility. If the real has fallen into fundamental discredit, and its principle as everywhere reeling, it is not we, the messengers of the simulacrum, who have plunged things into this discredit. It is the system itself that has fermented this uncertainty that affects everything today, even the sense of existence.

What looms on the horizon with the advent of globalization, is the constitution of an integral power, of an integral reality of power, and an equally integral and automatic disintegration and failure of that power. A dramatic form of reversibility. A sort of turn about revenge, and devastating irony. A kind of negative reaction on the part of the world itself against globalization.

All the forces denied and expelled by this very process which thereby become the forces of evil rebel. Power itself fights against becoming total. It passes the buck. It disinvests itself. In the end it works secretly against itself. To speak evil is to describe the growing hegemony of the powers of good, and at the same time, their inner faltering, their suicidal crumbling. The reversion, their outgrowth and separation into parallel universes once the dividing line of the universal has been crossed.
Chapter 10 Virtuality and Events

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