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By Jean Baudrillard

'Since de Toqueville, French thinkers were fascinated by the USA. but if it involves mysterious paradoxes and lyrical complexity no French highbrow suits Jean Baudrillard in considering the recent World... [He] has turn into a sharp-shooting Lone Ranger of the post-Marxist left." -- ny occasions "The choice of wild, frequently hilarious postcards from his journey to the US includes many of the year's so much orignal and lovely writing." -- New Statesman and Society " ... sometimes provocative and typically infuriating ... the USA is stuffed with perceptive, nearly poetic observations." -- Rolling Stone "A mix of loopy notions and dead-on insights, the US is a worthy (and voluable) photograph of what Mr. Baudrillard calls 'the simply last primitive society' -- ours." -- long island occasions e-book evaluate

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Sample text

This, too, is a clean-up operation. They are getting rid of rubbish and patina, getting back to an original state of cleanliness, restoring. ’ And that smile everyone gives you as they pass, that friendly contraction of the jaws triggered by human warmth. It is the eternal smile of communication, the smile through which the child becomes aware of the presence of others, or struggles desperately with the problem of their presence. It is the equivalent of the primal scream of man alone in the world.

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. Suddenly the TV reveals itself for what it really is: a video of another world, ultimately addressed to no one at all, delivering its images indifferently, indifferent to its own messages (you can easily imagine it still functioning after humanity has disappeared). In short, in America the arrival of night-time or periods of rest cannot be accepted, nor can the Americans bear to see the technological process halted.

The smile of immunity, the smile of advertising: ‘This country is good. I am good. We are the best’. It is also Reagan’s smile - the culmination of the self-satisfaction of the entire American nation - which is on the way to becoming the sole principle of government. An autoprophetic smile, like all signs in advertising. Smile and others will smile back. Smile to show how transparent, how candid you are. Smile if you have nothing to say. Most of all, do not hide the fact you have nothing to say nor your total indifference to others.

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