Seducing Baudrillard: Ultrablack Venus and the appearance of She-Herself in the Universe

— AP, 30th June 2024 —
This text was written for the second iteration of an eponymous zine made by London-based everyoneisagirl, a new project that is gaining ground quickly with its exploration of being a girl online. It is a piece that extends out of a combination of Achim Szepanski’s work on Baudrillard in his book In the Delirium of the Simulation (Becoming, 2024), as well as my own research and reading on Baudrillard that came as a part of the chapter I have written for a 2025 Zer0 Books publication. The theme of this zine was Seduction, which has been an important part of Baudrillard’s works for a long time, so given that we were already following everyoneisagirl, and already desiring to see myself publish with them, when they announced the theme, it was quite perfect. I wasn’t sure if the piece would be appropriate for the zine but to my delight it was, and this text can be found in the print, beautifully designed by the EIAG team. 

    — Akirosa Palais

While this might seem an unlikely place to find a certain bespectacled old French man 🙄, in the work of Jean Baudrillard, the idea of Seduction goes far beyond just erotas🥵, and is rather understood as a force or power💥 that specifically relates to symbolism💱 and signs⚠️. Jean writes of an indeterminate or ‘secret’🤫 universe, somewhere within which the garden🌳🌷 of our experience, the symbolic, coagulates. ‘The symbolic’ is the semiological codification of ‘the real’ 🌎 into ‘reality’ 🗺, and Jean’s work has a profound interest in the way reality simulates the real, and how that simulation as a system of signs, models and codes, can deviate or swerve💫 (like Lucretius👨🏻‍🎓) to such an extent that they no longer bare any resemblence👬 of the original and become simulacra. His general concern is with the death☠️ of signs, and he cites that reality in capitalist modernity 💸, with it's productivisit🛠️ logic of positive✖️, endlessly proliferating, unilinear accumulation🔝, has stopped operating in accordance with its original referent (the real). If you ever sit and watch the news and think “how is this reality?”🫣😫 — its not exactly🫨🤯.

Jean’s writing argues that reality has been seduced into hyperreality 🌐, and an example of this from popular culture would be Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism, a condition characterized by being unable to distinguish capitalism from reality🧐. Yet, despite Jean’s recognition of the role of seduction in the transformation of signs🔣 (and the death of signs🪦), when seduction is considered within his overall cosmology🪐, it is also an important subversive force✊ when it comes to confronting the hetero-patriarchal🤴🏻 hegemony of Global Capitalism, and its productivist, modernist logic.

Seduction, for Jean, is resolutely not❌ the feminine︎♀︎ other to a masculinised ♂ production, nor is it the negation🚫 of production, but the transformation of it. This is important❗️ because for Jean, the tendency within western philosophy 🧐 and thought🤔 to operate in accordance with a symbolic order🫡 of oppositionally-structured pairs of signs is highly problematic😤, because the productivist logic or the assumption of unilinear accumulation 📈 of capital leads us🎀 into increasing degrees of abstraction🔮. Seduction is a strategy♟️ for producing meanings and values but it doesn’t operate based on the logic of production, which is characterized by additions➕, accumulations🆙, and, importantly, making visible💡. If anything, Seduction as a process makes things invisible, it guides identities to their death💀, thus annulling the hegemony of production. For example, should Identity ️ enter a seductive process with Identity 🅱, both 🅰️ & 🅱 will ‘die’😔🤷‍♀️, as they become re-characterized and re-identified as two poles in an irreversible becoming-each-other, without necessarily ever becoming  🆎.  Yet, to position Seduction in an oppositional pair with production is to dramatically miss the point of Baudrillard’s work overall. 

Sadie Plant🤖 accused Jean of fearing😨 Seduction🫦 as she felt that he was afraid of the power seduction has to dissolve the very concept of Man♂ which she assumed Jean would defend, yet, given Jean’s commitment to criticising the productivist logic of modernity😣 and capital😩, it is hard to believe that he really feared the Death of himself as Man. In most moments, Jean writes more like a “theoretical terrorist”, who, if anything, attempted to bomb 💣 the sacred oppositional structures that underwrite patriarchy👑 and western philosophy🏛️. Jean wrote that the oppositional structure of Masculinity/Femininity is always a Masculine opposition, where the masculine is asserted and the feminine is othered. In asserting that the feminine is just the other to the masculine, it masks or conceals anything that doesn’t follow a productivist logic, and we now know from Quantum Theory🔬 that there never was any feminine-absent void🕳️ out of which objects⚛ and identities👤 were erected🍆, it was always noise and fluctuations, and thinking the absent, invisible or secret, as void, vaccuous or non-existent, is an illusion cast by the present🎁. To mistake noise for silence is quite the error😅, and can only be explained by an unwillingness for Man to listen😂. In accordance with this line of reasoning, Jean wrote that, if anything, it would be more reasonable to say that there is no masculinity or Male sex🥺, given how hard it strives to exist in contrast to an all-encompassing ‘other’, and the inconsistency associated with erectile dysfunction😳 makes it appear more like the Masculine is the other of the Feminine🤭, which flickers in and out of existence erratically. Everyone is a girl when the boys look away. This is a direct transformation of the logic of production, where instead of the oppositional structure of The One over The Other, there is only other.

I love this, on some essential level, the Gaian🌍 will for everything to merge together; to burn and melt it all down into the liquid metal core of a new planet: YES; god. That’s so hot.🔥 As we know from Jacques Derrida, the image of the binary oppositional structure has dominated western philosophy throughout history, since the debate between Permenides😬 and Heraclitus🥰 about Being and Becoming, or Aristotle’s🙄 unmoved-mover, or Plato’s🙄 forms-appearances, or Descartes’🙄 dualism of mind🧠-body🫀. Yet, Louis Althusser😙 writes of an underground current of materialism, which draws a line from Heraclitus to Marx😍, and I would argue that Jean, with his ideas of secrecy and seduction, is a part of this kinetic-materialist movement. I say this because, while Jean also speaks of a two-fold real, the main difference is that the two-folds of Jean’s real-symbolic is that they are understood to be one-and-the-same, and that their illusory duality is not organized as a masculinized oppositional structure. They are not abstracted from each other. Along with Jacques, Jean and Louis, I am trapped in a determination to fix another French🇫🇷 veteran💂‍♀️ of Theory👨‍💻, a certain Francois, or Monsieur Laruelle😜, who wrote a sort of allegorical poem, with a palpable afrofuturist✨ tone, about western🌎 dualisms called Universe Black🖤. In this poem, Francois speaks of a Black▪️ that cannot be defined as the other of White▫️—it is an all-encompassing Black▪️ that does not submit to the authority of light (unlike colour🎨, Black▪️ has no position). It is not Black▪️ as in Black▪️/White▫️, it is something beyond that, it is ultrablack⚫️ (Szepanski🏴‍☠️). Francois writes that the Universe and Man, although it makes more sense to say She-Herself, are Black▪️, and that World and Philosopher are White▫️. The World (▫️) is the symbolic reality of Jean, and the Philosopher (▫️) is She-Herself (▪️) who thinks (▫️) the Universe (▪️) as the World (▫️). There is only Black▪️-in-Black▪️, She-Herself in the Universe, but through thought/philosophy, White▫️, an illusion of position▫️, appears like residue around Black▪️ as it folds back on itself as it is seduced (▪️).

Thomas Nail😘, along with Achim Szepanski🫡, mirrored the work of Francois and Jean by presenting another model of the non-oppositional two-folded universe, where he presents the universe as Noise🔊—chaotic motion—where even in the deepest trenches🦑, one only ever finds increasing degrees of complexity as opposed to void. For Thomas and Achim, rhythm is a pattern of metastatic motion that arises from noise as it moves chaotically😯, and rhythm▫️ is in the position▫️ of order▫️, but is irreversibly saturated with noise at every point📍, so even though rhythm can, with some struggle, erect itself out of noise, it is a temporal formation, and it is no less noisy. So Noise and Rhythm are the two-fold universe, differentiated only by space-time, or, position-in-moment🌎📌. Now, here is where we try to tie all this together with what, following Lucretius, could be argued as the Goddess of the Real: Venus 🖤💖 (Black▪️).

Thinking of Jean, the Goddess of the real is the Goddess of seduction👄, who is of dual nature☯, and she is not conceived through the logic of production, rather by the transformation of production🙃😌. Afrodite🧝🏻‍♀️🐚 was born when Gaia🌏, avatar of Xaos❓, seduces Tethys🌊, avatar of Gaia, to seduce Xronos⏳, avatar of Tethys to castrate Ouranos🌬️☁️, the masculinized sky to the feminine earth—the severed genitals😿 of the Father fall into the Ocean🌊, and from the foam🫧 (aphros) Afrodite arose🌹. When she walked onto the beaches of Cyprus🇨🇾, Heaven had arrived on Earth. Afrodite is two-fold💞, she is the object of desire💘 and the desire💘 itself, and so can be understood in terms of Jean’s seduction. Gaia🌏, through the cyclical waves 🌊 of Tethys㊌, captured air as foam🫧, thus producing an even more perfect representation of Xaos than Gaia herself; Venus is more Black than Black🖤. 

Gaia [black] produces [white] Ouranos [white] a simulation [white] of the real [black], but she doesn’t produce Afrodite [black], atleast not by the productivist [white] logic [white] of unilinear [white] accumulation [white]. Instead, Afrodite is born through the Lesbian-relations [black-to-black] between Earth [black] and Ocean [black] using the severed-genitals [black-as-negated-white] of the Sky [white]. More than just some deceptive affair, the story of Afrodite’s inception could be read as a story of revolution🫡✊, or performance 🎭️, or ritual🕯️🌀. It was a strategy for immaculate reseduction💯 (not reproduction) where Gaia creates matter out of matter👏. Matter creates itself, that’s the secret🤫, it doesn’t reproduce representations of itself, it reseduces more of itself. The secret of seduction is a black that is so black that it always finds a way to get blacker. Instead of producing copies of itself, the secret seduces more-of-the-same. Jean wrote that ritual is the process through which the symbolic is formed as a codified simulation of the real, it is the strategy for the formation of signs through seduction. Godess Afrodite is the real signifier of the real, the result of the perfection of ritual, and that is what makes her beautiful. She is the miracle of life, but, as the Goddess of seduction, she is also an Angel of Death, born of the ritualized overthrowing (disappearance) of the heavens that allowed us to wake up one day, as She-Herself in the Universe and walk onto the Earth as daughter reuniting with mother, as the first perfect mitosis, the first beat in the rhythm of the Universe.