By André Fortin
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Jean Baudrillard is widely known as the most very important and provocative writers of our age. Variously termed “France’s top thinker of postmodernism” and “a sharp-shooting Lone Ranger of the post-Marxist left,” he may additionally be referred to as our major thinker of seduction or of mass tradition.
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In other words, the reader, whose function in both cases is to acknowledge the presence of genius, fulfills that function in two rather different ways: the one by vouching for the absolute originality of genius, and the other by ensuring that the productions of genius do not exceed the bounds of what its audience is able or willing to recognize as valid mimesis. Such contradictions notwithstanding, and with or without the accompaniment of taste, genius will always register with readers who need take no active steps to discover it.
Moi describes his own response as offering the tribute of admiration and emotion which normally signals success: “Was I filled with admiration? Yes, I was. Was I moved to pity? 9 Mimesis as the mark of genius is energetically demonstrated but fails in some unspecified way quite to carry full conviction. In describing the prelude to his attempts at composition, Lui also lays claim to the sensibility that earlier discussions had portrayed as the basis of the mimetic power of genius. ” This is a convincing exhibition of the emotional susceptibility that is the supposed origin of mimesis.
Self-Evidence All this suggests that before any defining and explaining can begin, genius is quite simply felt. There is, in other words, something astonishingly self-evident about genius as it is presented in most eighteenth-century accounts, and this contrasts with later periods when genius is increasingly misrecognized, is derided, or acquires problematic status of one kind or another. None of the eighteenth-century commentators appears to hesitate in proclaiming that a given figure is endowed with genius.
Analyse numérique pour ingénieurs by André Fortin