The prominent American new media critic Nicholas Carr has been trawling the depths of our digital shallowness. And to make senseof what he calls the "twitterification phenomenon", Carr borrows from the wisdom of the French theorist Jean Baudrillard. Carr says that its Baudrillard, and not the "speechless" and "half-blind" McLuhan, who has become our "natural seer". These are the words that Carr quotes from Baudrillard's 2001 work, The Vital Illusion, to describe the nature of "realtime" electronic culture":
Ecstasy of the social: the masses. More social than the social.
Ecstasy of information: simulation. Truer than true.
Ecstasy of time: real time, instantaneity. More present than the present.
Ecstasy of the real: the hyperreal. More real than the real.
Ecstasy of sex: porn. More sexual than sex ...
Thus, freedom has been obliterated, liquidated by liberation; truth has been supplanted by verification; the community has been liquidated and absorbed by communication ... Everywhere we see a paradoxical logic: the idea is destroyed by its own realization, by its own excess. And in this way history itself comes to an end, finds itself obliterated by the instantaneity and omnipresence of the event.
Sharing Baudrillard's ideas about the end of history, Carr says "mass media reaches its natural end-state when we broadcast our lives rather than live them." But I have to confess not a little confusion at Baudrillard's mystical words. The introduction of the word "ecstasy" appears to give the Frenchman the poetic license to reinvent the conventional rules of language. I don't really understand how anything can be either "truer than true", "more real than the real" or "more sexual than sex". But, of course, the half-serious, half-shallow Baudrillard meant the opposite. All this ecstasy was allowing "instantaneity" and "omnipresence" to obliterate reality, truth, society and sex.
Is it possible that Baudrillard couldn't put into words what he meant? Or perhaps, in the grip of the ecstasy of language, he falls into his own trap and becomes more lucid than lucidity.