“Behind every image, something has disappeared. And that is the source of its fascination,” writes French theorist Jean Baudrillard in Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? In this, one of the last texts written before his death in March 2007, Baudrillard meditates poignantly on the question of disappearance. Throughout, he weaves an intricate set of variations on his theme, ranging from the potential disappearance of humanity as a result of the fulfillment of its goal of world mastery to the vanishing of reality due to the continual transmutation of the real into the virtual. Along the way, he takes in the more conventional question of the philosophical “subject,” whose disappearance has, in his view, been caused by a “pulverization of consciousness into all the interstices of reality.”
Interspersed throughout the text are 15 photographs by Alain Willaume that help illustrate Baudrillard’s argument. Baudrillard insists that with disappearance, strange things happen—some things that were eliminated or repressed may return in destructive viral forms—yet at the same time, he reminds us that disappearance has a positive aspect, as a “vital dimension” of the existence of things.