Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation

Jean Baudrillard
Simulacra and Simulation
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
The Precession of Simulacra

•    “Simulation is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.”
•    The real can be reproduced an infinite number of times
•    Dissimulating = pretending ≠ simulating
o    Masked and reality is intact
•    Cartesian hesitation between true and false (he’s acting crazy because he really is)
•    Successive phases of an image:
o    It is the reflection of a profound reality: good
o    It masks and denatures a profound reality: evil
o    It masks the absence of a profound reality: being an appearance
o    It has no relation to any reality whatsoever: it is its own pure simulacrum: simulation
•    Disneyland exists in order to hide that it is the “real” country
•    Not a question of concealing the real, but concealing the fact that the real is no longer real
•    Simulation is characterized by the procession of models
•    The proof of something through its opposite (proof of theater through antitheater)
o    “Everything is metamorphosed into its opposite to perpetuate itself in its expurgated form.”
•    “It is now impossible to isolate the process of the real, or to prove the real”
•    Hyperrealism of simulation is translated by the hallucinatory resemblance of the real to itself
•    Power only produces signs of its resemblance
•    Loud’s filming experiment: they lived as if we/you weren’t there
o    You no longer watch TV, it’s TV that’s watching you
•    Simulation begins where there’s an implosion of meaning
•    “One enters into simulation and this absolute manipulation—not into passivity, but into the indifferentation of the active and the passive”
2: “It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody.  It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real, that is to say of an operation of deterring every real process via its operational double, a programmatic, metastable, perfectly descriptive machine that offers all the signs of the real and short-circuits all its vicissitudes.  Never again will the real have the chance to produce itself—such is the vital function of the model in a system of death, or rather of anticipated resurrection, that no longer even gives the event of death a chance.”
20: “Simulation is infinitely more dangerous because it always leaves open to supposition that, above and beyond its object, law and order themselves might be nothing but simulation.”
29: “Truth that is no longer the reflexive truth of the mirror, nor the perspectival truth of the panoptic system and of the gaze, but the manipulative truth of the test that sounds out and interrogates, of the laser that touches and pierces, of computer cards that retain your preferred sequences, of the genetic code that controls your combinations, of cells that inform your sensory universe.”
History: A Retro Scenario
•    Terrorism is always that of the real
•    Relation between cinema and real is an inverse, negative relation: loss of specificity
45: “Neofiguration is an invocation of resemblance, but at the same time the flagrant proof of the disappearance of objects in their very representation: hyperreal.  Therein objects shine in a sort of hyperresemblance (like history in contemporary cinema) that makes it so that fundamentally they no longer resemble anything, except the empty figure of resemblance, the empty form of representation.  It is a question of life or death: these objects are no longer either living or deadly.”
•    Forgetting, annihilation, finally achieves its aesthetic dimension in this way—it’s achieved in retro, finally elevated to a mass level
49-50: “And one would like to have us believe that TV will life the weight of Auschwitz by making a collective awareness radiate, whereas television is its perpetuation in another guise, this time no longer under the auspices of a site of annihilation, but of a medium of deterrence.”
The Beaubourg Effect: Implosion and Deterrence
•    People have the desire to take everything, to pillage.  The only massive effect is manipulation
Hypermarket and Hypercommodity
•    People themselves come in response to the functional and directed question that the objects constitute
•    The hypermarket preexists the metropolitan area
The Implosion of Meaning in the Media
•    More and more information, less and less meaning
•    Where we think information produces meaning, the opposite occurs
•    More real than real, that is how the real is abolished
•    Electronic mass media: end of the message
o    No more mediating power between one reality and another
82: “If all the content is wiped out, there is perhaps still a subversive, revolutionary use value of the medium as such.  That is—and this is where McLuhan’s formula leads, pushed to its limit—there is not only an implosion of the message in the medium, there is, in the same movement, the implosion of the medium itself in the real, the implosion of the medium and of the real in a sort of hyperreal nebula, in which even the definition and distinct action of the medium can no longer be determined.”
84: “There is a paradox in this inextricable conjunction of the masses and the media: do the media neutralize meaning and produce unformed or informed masses, or is it the masses who victoriously resist the media by directing or absorbing all the messages that the media produce without responding to them?”
Clone Story

•    The double is the subject itself and never resembles itself again
•    The body being nothing but the infinite series of prostheses
•    What is lost in serial reproducibility is the aura
96-7: “The Father and the Mother have disappeared, not in the service of an aleatory liberty of the subject, but in service of a matrix called code.  No more mother, no more father: a matrix.  And it is the matrix, that of the genetic code, that now infinitely ‘gives birth’ based on a functional mode purged of all aleatory sexuality.”
•    When an object is exactly like another, it’s not exactly like it, but a bit more exact
o    There is never similitude, any more that there is exactitude
105-6: “In the hologram, it is the imaginary aura of the double that is mercilessly tracked, just as it is in the history of clones.  Similitude is a dream and must remain one, in order for a modicum of illusion and a stage of the imaginary to exist.  One must never pass over to the side of the real, the side of the exact resemblance of the world to itself, of the subject to itself.  Because then the image disappears.”
Simulacra and Science Fiction
•    3 orders of simulacra:
o    Natural: founded on the image: utopia: operatic
o    Productive: founded on energy: science fiction: operative
o    Simulation: founded on information: end of science fiction: operational
The Remainder
•    Is there an opposite of “the remainder”?
•    All of the real is residual and everything that is residual is destined to repeat itself indefinitely in phantasms
146: “All accumulation is nothing but a remainder, and the accumulation of remainders, in the sense that tit is a rupture of alliance, and in the linear infinity of accumulation and calculation, in the linear infinity of production, compensates for the energy and value that used to be accomplished in the cycle of alliance.”
Value’s Last Tango
•    Panic of university administrators: diplomas awarded without “real” work
o    Without equivalence in knowledge


1 Response to “Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation”

  1. 1 rizwan
    November 1, 2008 at 9:41 am


    This is really interesting….one thing more, do you think that the simulacra has a similarity with Derrida’s deconstruction as both the theories deny any fixed signifer. hope you will share it …

    reply me rizku_eng@yahoo.com


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