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Amérique

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,132 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Lire Amérique et découvrir les dessous d'un continent fabuleux. Approcher un autre univers, un autre temps, un autre monde. Recevoir les images d?une utopie étrange qui, sans cesse, oscille entre rêve et réalité. Avec Jean Baudrillard comme guide et mentor. Amérique ou le vrai texte de la modernité.
Paperback, 122 pages
Published January 1st 1988 by Livre de Poche (first published 1986)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,187)
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Nathaniel
Not unless I'm forced will I read another word by this absolute head-up-ass dreck-merchant. I was prepared to be a very sympathetic reader; I was primed and ready for some snappy and devastating criticisms of America; but Baudrillard is too concerned with manufacturing what he must think are theoretical pronouncements to actually observe his surroundings. He certainly didn't need to travel to write this shmarmy and useless rubbish pit of a book; he probably had the whole thing outlined before he ...more
Jen Padgett Bohle
For sure, Baudrillard is one of the rock stars of postmodernism, probably as much for his tentative connection with The Matrix as for his pronouncement that the first Gulf War didn't happen. One surely wouldn't expect any typical travel writing or sociology from him, even in a book titled America and billed as a collection of traveler's tales. This isn't Tocqueville elaborating, building arguments, and expounding on observations. This is Baudrillard at his postmodern haziest: playful, poetic, en ...more
Tina
"America is powerful and original; America is violent and abominable. We should not seek to deny either of these aspects, nor reconcile them." Like Baudrillard, I have a paradoxical opinion of America: I find it both fascinating and a little ridiculous. I have a strange crush on the United States, and this book did exactly what I wanted it to do: dissect aspects of American culture through the guise of one who both appreciates the beauty and seduction that America has to offer, but also maintain ...more
Gavin
Assorted and assembled quotes:

On desert: "The inhumanity of our ulterior, asocial, superficial world immediately finds its aesthetic form here, its ecstatic form. For the desert is simply that: an ecstatic critique of culture, an ecstatic form of disappearance. (pg.5)

On speed: "Speed is simply the rite that initiates us into emptiness, a nostalgic desire for from to revert to immobility, concealed beneath the very intensification of their mobility. Akin to the nostalgia for living forms that hau
...more
Tiredstars
France's least rigorous theorist takes on the United States.

America is a frustrating read. I've also read Simulations, and the two books have a lot in common. Both have the theoretical jargon, impenetrable passages and lack of care for readability. The technical words from other disciplines that you suspect Baudrillard doesn't actually understand (even relatively simple ones like "refract"). The faux-profundity (one of the insights is that the desert, for example, Death Valley, symbolises, um,
...more
Martin
Wow this book is fantastic. Probably reading it right after I came back from the eponymous America made it all the more resonant. Even though it was written like 30 years ago so many of his observations still strike the reader as very perceptive and pertinent. I actually smiled at some of his more incisive critiques, especially on the phenomenon of smiling in America. His main thrust is making a distinction between Europe and the USA, where in Europe, and France specifically, they are all obsess ...more
Adam
Basically the equivalent of traveling America with a nutty Frenchman by your side.

He's both interesting (sometimes hilarious and spot-on and incredibly observant) and totally off-base and silly.

But you have a good time in the end because he's good company.

I like the part where he explains why Americans lack the European pretentiousness and "ridiculous affectation."
Jim
I loved his description of the nyc marathon. though it's not news to say that America "is a world completely rotten with wealth, power, senility, indifference, puritanism and mental hygiene"
Oguz Bayram
post-modern world criticism, consumer humankind, meaningless and worthless life of an American, erosion of culture and value judgement
Tony Goriainoff
The first book of his I read. Hard reading but only because every sentence carries a concept, or an idea. He will make you think.
Carolyn
Baudrillard is a maniac.....but this made me want to visit the desert so bad.
Marissa Perel
It's better than America
Alex Lee
I am not well-versed in Baudrillard. Nonetheless, it was given as a gift to me, and philosophy is something I am interested in. The comparisons to Roland Barthe's Empire of Signs is pretty apt. If you're expecting heavy philosophy, then forget it. If you are expecting a travelogue, as one reviewer said, you should forget that too.

America rests somewhere in the middle. America is a book less about a geographical place than it is a landmark. Baudrillard takes us to the cultural economic center, in
...more
Robert
A book I’ve been meaning to get to for a long while, America is an absolute treat—through Baudrillard’s eyes we see the United States through virgin light: to witness the sights and sounds and scenes and the people and our habits and customs. It creates dialog within oneself, a dialog that cuts through political ideologies and religious red-tape we face daily—the sorts of things that can be the cause of self-wars deep within our minds—and seeks to understand, simply, “What makes us tick?”

It’s an
...more
Cameron
"America" is an exercise in mental masturbatory travel-logging, if ever one was written. Still, it's an interesting, abstract prose poem on Baudrillard's experience of America in the 1980s. There are some great ideas and aphorisms hidden within its pages: on the "limitless" horizontally sublime deserts (as well as the cities imposed upon them, like LA); the "hologram" of American uniformity (see: suburbs); the detachment from origins (especially in the West); the "mindless luxury" of American co ...more
Zara
“Today…no performance can be without its control screen video…its goal is to be hooked up to itself.” “…the mirror phase has given way to the video phase.” “What develops around the video or stereo culture is not a narcissistic imaginary, but an effect of frantic self-referentiality, a short-circuit which immediately hooks up like with like, and, in doing so, emphasizes their surface intensity and deeper meaninglessness.” These pronouncements are particularly valuable to me in thinking about the ...more
Claire
Read for Making Americans module.
I loved the way this book was written. It was fundamentally a travel diary, I guess, but it was so much more than that. The narrative was beautiful - credit to the translator for that. What made this book so powerful to me was that it managed to encompass a pre-9/11 America in a really 'in-pointed way. I didn't agree with everything that he said, but he definitely managed to divulge something from America that I haven't seen from many writers on the subject.
El Zuco
This served as a great soft introduction to Baudrillard (with whom I'd been familiar before, but had never tackled) and is best read, in my opinion, as insightful travel literature. I've heard critiques of Baudrillard's views of LA and its simulacra saying that they exoticize too much, the person who sold me the book was of this opinion, but what would be travel literature without any exotic element? Besides, I think a lot of it rings true, and his perspective is much more nuanced than a lot of ...more
Brian Mccooley
An excellent look at the conceptual difference (or lack of) between America and the Old World, as long as one is willing to put aside their American-ness in an attempt to be objective and understand Baudrillard's sometimes hyperbolic or unfounded assertions for what they figuratively intend. America is convincingly described as the new, identity-less, history-less, postmodern "utopia," which can only lead us to a clearer self-understanding.
Yoon
this is a book that nearly changed my life during college. i met this book when i didn;t even know what hyperrealism or whatever they call it existed...before i was bored to tears reading something about postmodernism...except though i did have a pretty good sense of what america meant to me like a good foreigner visiting the U.S.. i was at a big book store and picked up this book mostly because it said 'america' and nothing else, and the cover art was almost too funny and sad simultaneously i h ...more
Michelle
Actually fun to read, just don't expect it to be linear analysis. Some of his ideas seemed forced/fell flat for me. But, others were prescient, poetic, and dead on. Don't worry. He bags on Europe, too. :)
aaron
One of the most esoteric and exciting studies of the American nation and culture undertaken; Baudrillard merges the mind of the analytic European philosopher-theoretician with the prose-poetry vision of the greatest American novelists. Insightful, contemplative and - most unique of all for a work of its type - endlessly entertaining. The ceaseless irony of the postmodern blends with the wide-eyed joy of the journeyman, and the calculating intelligence of an academic cogitates in the psyche of a ...more
Nathan
Sep 17, 2007 Nathan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Matrix fans.
Jean Baudrillard was one of the greats of post-modernism. His works meant a lot to me at a time when I was young, in college, studying literature and looking for new perspectives. It's hard to argue that is work requires, even inspires, serious thought on the part of the reader. I didn't always understand him, and I have my doubts as to whether or not he's still relevant to a war obsessed with terror and George W. Bush. He seemed easier to read and understand when the world made more sense. Stil ...more
Abby
Um. Msr. Baudrillard, is your intention, by puting down words on a page and publishing them, to communicate something? Because if so, you have failed rather spectacularly. First of all, much of what I understand in this book is nonsense (I thought it was nonsense when you tried to ignore culture, and then when you finally began to talk about culture, I just got pissed off because you're ignorant and rather racist). And much of what I didn't understand was never resolved. And frankly, I'm not sur ...more
Rebecca
America, according to Baudrillard, proves that it is never too late to revive your origins. The absence of a unifying cultural narrative in America allows us to build museums, rewrite history, and embrace our roots. Some critics of this book argue that Baudrillard paints with broad strokes in his attempt to capture this abstract idea of America. His critics aren't wrong, but it would be best to approach this book as poetry rather than a travel diary. Very much worth the read especially if you ha ...more
Jena
I prefer Baudrillard's observations to his philosophy. He's stronger in the first two sections of the book, which progress from road trip notes to expansions on the desert, New York City, etc. It ends with his typical simulacrum party and some dated predictions of America's future (which is always fun, to be fair).

It's a good book. Humorous, thoughtful, the language errs towards flamboyant, but really hits it at times. Definitely part of the Europeans Do America genre, which Dyer does a good jo
...more
Aaron
Any passages regarding the desert, speed, driving and movement are astonishing, they are written with so much passion. A selected few of these observations and documentations are undoubtedly some of my favourite pieces of literature. Based on my experience of the deserts I feel he has captured the essence beautifully.

A lot of this book is less to my liking or at least I would definitely disagree with his perspectives, but nevertheless amusing in its overly harsh criticism and intolerance.
Karen
The most striking thing about this book is that apart from some references to Reagan being in power in the 2nd half of the book you could easily forget this was written in the 80's as so much of it could be easily be applied to today. My personal preference with this book was approx the first 3rd with the seemingly disconnected paragraphs about the desert and travelling through America, the last 40 or so pages were too far off tangent for me and I got a bit bored to be honest.
Michael William West
As per original comment; this is like finding a bag of antique and still-bloodied high quality surgeons tools. Some confusing (TV once was scary, now it's something you turn off to spent some QT with the internet). I have to say I flatly love America (the country) so it's immensely pleasurably to see it wrung through by Baudrillard, who is as unarchtypically French as JG Ballard is unarchtypically English. It's always a joy to read a whole book in two hours.
Becky Smith
This was a heavy and dense book, but Baudrillard's ideas are brilliant, and he has put many of the ideas I have already considered to be problems within America into a beautiful form of poetic prose. Upon my initial reading, I was not impressed, but by taking a SLOW second read-through, I was very moved. It is definitely something people who are interested in philosophy and/or social commentary should read; many of the ideas still hold true today.
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Jean Baudrillard (27 July 1929 – 6 March 2007) was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism.

Jean Baudrillard was also a Professor of Philosophy of Culture and Media Criticism at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he taught an Intensive Summer S
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“There is nothing more mysterious than a TV set left on in an empty room. It is even stranger than a man talking to himself or a woman standing dreaming at her stove. It is as if another planet is communicating with you.” 55 likes
“…sense of futility that comes from doing anything merely to prove to yourself that you can do it: having a child, climbing a mountain, making some sexual conquest, committing suicide.
The marathon is a form of demonstrative suicide, suicide as advertising: it is running to show you are capable of getting every last drop of energy out of yourself, to prove it… to prove what? That you are capable of finishing. Graffiti carry the same message. They simply say: I’m so-and-so and I exist! They are free publicity for existence.
Do we continually have to prove to ourselves that we exist? A strange sign of weakness, harbinger of a new fanaticism for a faceless performance, endlessly self-evident.”
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