Why Hasn’t JB Already Disappeared

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« Forget meaning and with it the subject …
Beauty will be amnesiac or will not be at all »

— Sylvère Lotringer


This book is an attempt to respond to a text message, a textual call — to a missive sent by Tombie Rautenbach that arrived at three in the morning on 7 March 2007 — which read, « Baudrillard is dead ». But more than a eulogy, more than a mourning — if such a thing is possible — this is an attempt to think with Baudrillard, all whilst keeping in mind the fact that his work, his writing, his thought, always brings with it a little chuckle, a sly grin.

So, perhaps an attempt at the impossible: thinking with a smile at a point where there might not have been much, if anything, to smile about.

Trying never to forget that in attempting to speak with the dead, one always also runs the risk of rewriting them, writing over them, quite possibly effacing them. But, of course, Baudrillard already knew this: after all, he was the one who called for his own disappearance even before his death.

So perhaps, this book is an imaginative response: a reading in fidelity to JB; not to the man — nothing so banal — nor even to his work; but a reading that opens itself to the possibility of the grin of the one who has already disappeared, to the shadow of his silent smile.

The responses are composed of writings by Jeremy Fernando; alongside translations by Setsuko Adachi & Daniel Kwang Guan Chan; a poem by Laura Parker; art-works by Russell Bennetts, Cecília Erismann, Michael Kearney, Sorelle Henricus, Julia Hölzl, Grace Euna Kim, Jeanette Lamb, John WP Phillips, Kenny Png, Kristy Trinier, Sean Smith, and Berit Jane Soli-Holt.

These conversations between — perhaps even attempted séances by — the various texts, modes of responses, were mediated by Yanyun Chen.