At the risk of drawing overly simplistic lines between the ritual or pagan and the modern world, one might say that Shakespeare scholar, controversial thinker and Catholic philosopher René Girard* identifies a crucial lack in our contemporary relation to an apocalyptic horizon. There has arguably always been such a relation, and perhaps necessarily so, but whereas before entire social groups participated in organized ritual re-enactments of 'the worst', today we are left with, well, CNN and FOX, or an endlessly thematized and sensationalized, yet ultimately hollow and unsatisfying, disembodied simulation of such stakes.
Yet simulation of any kind is never without its concomitant dangers, specifically the danger to inspire real violence. This would seem a precarious line. And although the lines separating the ritual from the real have never been pure, today in this age increasingly permeated by the so-called hyperreal, and combined with an unsustainable market which is forever (and with some serious help) in denial of its own mounting internal fragility, the stakes of such danger is arguably unprecedented. As marketably successful as his theory may be, one wishes that Baudrillard (though others would defend him) sometimes took more pains to emphasize the severity of these risks. In any case, I think Girard is an important thinker, and so I have reproduced in part an intriguing interview–more revealing perhaps than the LeMonde one on"9/11"–below.
* Significantly perhaps, Girard is one of those philosophers who claims that philosophy is over, to be replaced by a new science and a return to religion.