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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

4 - “Even Better than the Real Thing”?


My head is somewhere in between …

You're the real thing

Even better than the real thing.

U2, “Even Better than the Real Thing”


As fans of the rock band U2 will recognize, I take both my title and my epigraph from the second song on U2's 1991 album, Achtung Baby. U2's lead singer, Bono, famously declared that U2 entered its “postmodern” phase with Achtung Baby. Achtung, of course, standardly translates as a command for “Attention!” – but it also literally connotes “respect” or “care” (for that to which one should have been moved to “attend” in the first place) – and in what follows I shall suggest that attending to and thinking carefully about some of the philosophical ideas and themes underlying U2's work from their “postmodern” period that begins with Achtung Baby can cast a mutually illuminating light on both U2 and “postmodernity.” In the first two sections I think primarily from Heidegger's philosophy toward U2, but, reversing this direction in the final section, my chapter concludes with an extended analysis of “Even Better than the Real Thing,” a song I take to be particularly suggestive for the post-Heideggerian attempt to think through U2, beyond the triumph of the simulacra, and toward a genuine postmodernity.

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Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity
  • Online ISBN: 9780511976605
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