Jean-Louis Violeau

Jean-Louis Violeau is a sociologist and researcher at the “Architecture-Culture-Société” laboratory of the Ecole d'architecture de Paris-Malaquais in Paris. His most recent book is Les Architectes et Mai 68.

  • Utopie

    Utopie

    Texts and Projects, 1967–1978

    Craig Buckley and Jean-Louis Violeau

    Key writings and projects from the group of architects, sociologists, and urbanists known as Utopie.

    “When the imagination reaches and oversteps the boundaries authorized by the institution of culture, we speak of poetry, of utopia.... When the event reaches and oversteps the boundaries authorized by judicial law and by the anomic rules, we speak of revolution.”—René Lourau

    The short-lived grouping of architects, sociologists, and urbanists known as Utopie, active in Paris from 1967 to 1978, was the product of several factors: the student protests for the reform of architectural education, the unprecedented expansion and replanning of the Parisian urban fabric carried out by the government of Charles de Gaulle, and the domestication of military and industrial technologies by an emerging consumer society. The group's collaborative publications included the work of Jean Aubert, Isabelle Auricoste, Jean Baudrillard, Catherine Cot, Charles Goldblum, Jean-Paul Jungmann, Henri Lefebvre, René Lourau, Antoine Stinco, and Hubert Tonka. Offering a militant alternative to professional urban planning journals, these writers not only formulated a critique of the technocratic and administrative rule over a disabled and alienated urban society but also projected an ephemeral urban poetics. With ties to the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA) in central Paris and to the sociology department established by Henri Lefebvre at the suburban campus of Nanterre, the group challenged postwar modernization and urban planning and questioned the roles into which architects, sociologists, and urban planners had been cast. Utopie makes the group's diverse body of theoretical work accessible in English for the first time, offering translations of more than twenty key texts. Designed in a facsimile format that follows the innovative graphic layouts of the journals, pamphlets, posters, and articles produced by Utopie, the volume not only provides the first thorough overview of the group's activities but also seeks to capture Utopie's linkage of architectural and urban theory to radical publication strategies.

    • Hardcover $24.95 £20.00

Contributor

  • The Divine Left

    The Divine Left

    A Chronicle of the Years 1977–1984

    Jean Baudrillard

    An analysis of how Mitterand came to power in France and how political power seduced the French Left and became a simulacrum.

    First published in French in 1985, The Divine Left is Jean Baudrillard's chronicle of French political life from 1977 to 1984. It offers the closest thing to political analysis to be found from a thinker who has too often been regarded as apolitical. Gathering texts that originally appeared as newspaper commentary on François Mitterand's rise to power as France's first Socialist president and the Socialist Party's fraught alliance with the French Communist Party, The Divine Left in essence presents Baudrillard's theory of the simulacrum as it operates in the political sphere.

    In France, the Left, and even the ultra-Left, had been seduced by power. This scenario—dissected by Baudrillard with deadpan humor and an almost chilling nonchalance—produced a Socialist Party that devoted itself to rallying the market economy and introducing neoliberalism, and replaced an intellectual class with the media stars and hyper-professionals of the spectacle. Starting from the elections of 1977, Baudrillard analyzes—in “real time,” as it were—how the Left's taking of power had in fact been an enaction of not just its own death throes, but those of power itself. The Divine Left outlines a simulation of politics that offers discomfiting parallels to our political world today, a trajectory that has only grown more apparent in recent years: the desire and intention to fail.

    • Paperback $15.95 £12.99
  • The Ecstasy of Communication, New Edition

    The Ecstasy of Communication, New Edition

    Jean Baudrillard

    Baudrillard's essential crib-book, lexicon, and companion piece to any and all of his books and a prescient portrait of our contemporary condition.

    “The need to speak, even if one has nothing to say, becomes more pressing when one has nothing to say, just as the will to live becomes more urgent when life has lost its meaning.”—from The Ecstasy of Communication

    First published in France in 1987, The Ecstasy of Communication was Baudrillard's summarization of his work for a postdoctoral degree at the Sorbonne: a dense, poetically crystalline essay that boiled down two decades of radical, provocative theory into an aphoristically eloquent swan song to twentieth-century alienation. Baudrillard's quixotic effort to be recognized by the French intellectual establishment may have been doomed to failure, but this text immediately became a pinnacle to his work, a mid-career assessment that looked both forward and back. By carefully distilling the most radical elements of his previous books, Baudrillard constructed the skeleton key to all of the work that was to come in the second half of his career, and set the scene for what he termed the “obscene”: a world in which alienation has been succeeded by ceaseless communication and information. The Ecstasy of Communication is a decisive, compact description of what it means to be “wired” in our braver-than-brave new world, where sexuality has been superseded by pornography, knowledge by information, hysteria by schizophrenia, subject by object, and violence by terror.

    The Ecstasy of Communication is an anti-manifesto that confronted and dispensed with such influences as Marshall McLuhan, Guy Debord, and Georges Bataille. It is an essential crib-book, lexicon, and companion piece to any and all of Baudrillard's books. Twenty-five years after its original publication, it remains not only a prescient portrait of our contemporary condition, but also a dark mirror into which we have not yet dared to look.

    • Paperback $14.95 £11.99
  • Lost Dimension, New Edition

    Lost Dimension, New Edition

    Paul Virilio

    A vision of the city as a web of interactive, informational networks that turn our world into a prison-house of illusory transcendence.

    “Where does the city without gates begin? Perhaps inside that fugitive anxiety, that shudder that seizes the minds of those who, just returning from a long vacation, contemplate the imminent encounter with mounds of unwanted mail or with a house that's been broken into and emptied of its contents. It begins with the urge to flee and escape for a second from an oppressive technological environment, to regain one's senses and one's sense of self.”—from Lost Dimension

    Originally written in French in 1983, Lost Dimension remains a cornerstone book in the work of Paul Virilio: the one most closely tied to his background as an urban planner and architect, and the one that most clearly anticipates the technologically wired urban space we live in today: a city of permanent transit and internalized borders, where time has overtaken space, and where telecommunications has replaced both our living and our working environments. We are living in the realm of the lost dimension, where the three-dimensional public square of our urban past has collapsed into the two-dimensional interface of the various screens that function as gateways to home, office, and public spaces, be they the flat-screen televisions on our walls, the computer screens on our desktops, or the smartphones in our pockets.

    In this multidisciplinary tapestry of contemporary physics, architecture, aesthetic theory, and sociology, Virilio describes the effects of today's hyperreality on our understanding of space. Having long since passed the opposition of city and country, and city and suburb, the speed-ridden city and space of today are an opposition between the nomadic and the sedentary: a web of interactive, informational networks that turn our world into a prison-house of illusory transcendence.

    • Paperback $15.95 £12.99