Fatal Strategies (Jean Baudrillard)

My basic position regarding Jean Baudrillard is that he is best read not as a theorist but as a literary author — and it is in this light that his ideas achieve great significance and we have been foolish to dismiss him. I submit, as my evidence and as/in lieu of my review, a passage from the book:

Science fiction has always been attracted by speeds greater than that of light. Far stranger, however, would be the register of lower speeds to which light itself could descend.
     . . . What if light slowed, dropping to “human” speeds? What if it bathed us in a slow-motion flux of images, until it was slower than our own movement?
    We would then need to generalize from the case of light reaching us from stars that have long ceased to exist—their image is still crossing light-years to get to us. If light was infinitely slower, a lot of things, even the closest ones, would have already suffered the fate of those stars: we would see them, and they’d be here, but they would no longer be there. Wouldn’t this be the case for the real itself: something whose image is still coming at us, but which no longer exists? We can make the analogy with mental objects and the mental ether.
    Or supposing light were very slow, could bodies approach us faster than their image—then what would happen? They would rub into us without our seeing them coming. We could further imagine, unlike our universe, where slow bodies move at prodigious speeds, except light itself, which would be very slow. Total chaos, no longer regulated by the instantaneity of luminous messages.
    Light like the wind, with variable speeds, even dead calms, where no image could get to us from the zones affected.
    Light like perfume: differing according to the body, scarcely diffusing outside of an immediate environment. A sphere of luminous messages attenuating as they go. The images of the body scarcely propagate beyond a certain luminous territory: beyond that, it no longer exists.
    Or, also, light moving with the slowness of continents, continental plates, one slipping over the other, and thus provoking shocks that would distort all our images and visions of space.
    . . . So slow that it could curl up on itself and even stop totally in its progression, light could lead to a total suspension of the universe.

— Jonathan Ball

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The First One's Free.

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