This essay is a rhetorical invention. It projects what Jean Baudrillard would have found theoretically interesting in the recent Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) affair, configured as a transpolitical media pseudo event revealing the immunodeficiency of Europe’s political class. The DSK affair is doubly contextualized in relation to its reception on both sides of the Atlantic: in (academic) North American feminists’ critique of French cultural exceptionalism and in French (real-time) resolutely nonhermeneutic coverage of “the already told story.” Both readings of the affair are centered upon a key Baudrillardian term, seduction, either in its “hot” (Don Juan) form or in its “cold” ludic form. When viewed from the perspective of immersive, immediate, and immanent forms of distance-abolishing media (such as smartphones and GPS), the summer sex scandals of 2011 instantiate shifts within simulation toward integral reality.
“The Conspiracy of Imbeciles,” Reloaded: Baudrillard and the DSK Affair
Diane Rubenstein is a professor of government and American studies and teaches in the fields of comparative literature, Romance studies, and visual studies at Cornell University. Her most recent book is This Is Not a President: Sense and Nonsense in the American Political Imaginary (2008). She is currently writing two books: on Jacques Derrida and hospitality (“Derrida without Borders: Hospitality, Politics, Pedagogy”) and an introduction to Jean Baudrillard’s political thought. Her essays have appeared in Political Theory, theory and event, UMBR(a), New Centennial Review, Journal of Politics, and Modern Fiction Studies and in anthologies such as The Final Foucault (1988) and The Hysterical Male (1991).
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Diane Rubenstein; “The Conspiracy of Imbeciles,” Reloaded: Baudrillard and the DSK Affair. Cultural Politics 1 March 2014; 10 (1): 40–61. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-2397227
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