Morphism Weavers and Object Trackers
This text was published earlier in Scott Lash, Another Modernity, A Different Rationality, Oxford, Malden: Blackwell 1999, pp. 312-338. By courtesy of the publisher.
The logic of the present text breaks radically with any such aporetic juxtaposition, even with the aporia of gift-society versus exchange-society. Its inspiration is partly Baudrillard. Not Baudrillard’s nostalgia for Maussian symbolic exchange, but instead his theory of the object. And especially his idea of the object, which is, on the one hand, not knowable by the subject, and hence not an instrumentality; but an object that is also and emphatically not a finality. Hence the importance of the idea of “reversibility” for Baudrillard. What is not a finality for him is reversible. Baudrillard’s object seduces. Finalities do not seduce. They are sublime or beautiful but they do not seduce. To speak of the sublime is still to speak the language of aporetics. The sublime is part and parcel of the second modernity, not of the global information culture. “Sign-value” seduces. Sign-value has nothing to do with the status associated with consumption. Baudrillard’s consumer culture is a culture of seduction. It is not a culture of commodification. Baudrillard will refuse critical theory’s analyses of mass society based on the counterposition of commodity and use-value, or alienation and authenticity. The quasi-objects in Latour’s actor-networks are also clearly not finalities. And also not instrumentalities. They transmit, they judge, they speak. See Jean Baudrillard, Seduction (London: Macmillan, 1990), p. 103, and see “Dead symbols”, interview with Jean Baudrillard, Theory, Culture and Society, 12, 4 (1995).