Implosion Essay

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French postmodernist critic Jean Baudrillard’s implosion theory is one of social entropy, wherein the consumer age of information, media, and mass media has ushered in an accelerated and coercive hyper-production of meaning and information to the ”irrational” and ”terroristic” extent that all meaning, knowledge, and subjectivity, the social, and thus social inquiry, are neutralized and ultimately collapse. All that is left is an imploding ”mass . . . an in vacuo aggregation of individual particles, refuse of the social and of media impulses; an opaque nebula whose growing density absorbs all the surrounding energy and light rays, to collapse finally under its own weight” (Baudrillard 1983: 3—4). Amid ubiquitous and proliferating media-generated information in a consumer society of simulacra and simulation, information ceases to be productive, or capable of transformation by human subjects. It produces merely destructive energy, more implosive density, more mass. The obliteration of the social collapses distinctions between ”classes, political ideologies, cultural forms, and between media semiurgy and the real itself . . . society in its entirety is implosive” (Best and Kellner 1991: 121).

The only ”imaginary referent” remaining in Baudrillard’s world of simulacra and semiurgy are the non-subject, non-object ”silent majorities,” or the purely ”crystal ball” statistical morbid remains of status groupings. The ”singular function” of the silent majorities is to absorb meaning, not refract or transform it. The only non-conscious ”strategic resistance” to the present phase of the system for the inert, indifferent, passive masses is that of a ”refusal of meaning … the hyperconformist simulation of the very mechanisms of the system, which is a form of refusal and non-reception” (Baudrillard 1983: 108). Forestalling any interpretations of the defiantly apolitical, or theories of oppression or repression, Baudrillard claims ultimately, ”the denial of meaning has no meaning” (Baudrillard 1983: 40-1).

Bibliography:

  1. Baudrillard, J. (1983) In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities Or, the End of the Social and Other Essays. Semiotext(e), New York.
  2. Best, S. and Kellner, D. (1991) Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations. Guilford Press, New York.

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