Regular readers will be aware of my fondness for the writings of the cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard, who died in March. So you can probably imagine my delight and general chuffedness when I received an e-mail yesterday from Dr Gerry Coulter, Professor of Theory at Bishop's University in Canada and founding editor of the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, asking for permission to use my tribute to the late, great Stanley Baxter lookalike in their special memorial issue in October. I am, of course, deeply flattered. However, one line in Dr Coulter's charming message unnerves me a little: "Jean was a friend and member of our board and I am quite certain he would have enjoyed your writing."
This, like any praise, is a lovely thing to hear, of course. But in the context of Baudrillard's theories, which revolve around everything, from the Gulf War to Betty Boop, not being what they seem to be (and often not being at all), such certainty is a bit inappropriate, and has added a dash of confusion to what should otherwise be a great honour. Is Dr Coulter really the editor of the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies? Indeed, does such a publication exist? Does Bishop's University? Does Canada? Do they really want to use my piece, or just a simulacrum of it?
On the other hand, I suppose that such uncertainty-provoking certainty is appropriate in this case. And could it be that, in speaking for Baudrillard (a man now beyond the realms of reality and/or hyperreality), Dr Coulter has become Baudrillard's simulacrum?
Ah, I feel much better now. Or do I?