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Simulacra and Simulation (1981)

von Jean Baudrillard

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Reihen: The Body, In Theory

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1,77097,411 (3.83)11
The first full-length translation in English of an essential work of postmodernist thought
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Good ideas but so whiny. He should work on that. ( )
  .json | Mar 21, 2021 |
I admit I read this primarily because I learned that the whole cast of The Matrix was forced to read it to get them all primed and pumped for the deeper meaning of the film.

Welcome to the Desert of the Real.

Indeed!

In fact, most of the most salient points of this classic 1981 work of philosophy ARE delineated in the movie! One of the most telling points was when a certain piece of steak was getting cut and he was cutting a deal with the policemen of the Matrix, talking about how much BETTER the steak is.

This book is a regular nightmare to get through if you prefer all your words to get right down to the truth of the matter without being overblown with jargon that could have been better spent elsewhere, but the IDEAS within it are pretty awesome. And often ferociously antithetical to anything I believe. And yet, he's right on so many aspects and I want to fist-bump the air all the time while also, in an aside, wanting to revile him for being the worst kind of monster.

In other words, it's an awesome, divisive read.

There's a lot of great reviews out her on this book, but let me sum up the most salient points:

Maybe you've heard the saying that the map is not the terrain. That the conceptualization, the ideal of a subject or a real-world representation is NOT the thing, itself. But what happens when all of reality IS just our conceptualizations of it? Don't laugh. Our brains do not have a direct line to the world. We process it all through our perceptions and we are always getting that wrong.

So, the more we continue to map out the world, the bigger the map, the more likely we start losing the certainty that we're dealing with the map OR reality. Pretty soon, and I mean this is true for every single one of us, we cannot tell the difference.

This is an idea that has made it almost everywhere since 1981, and I think we can thank Baudrillard for making it popular in academia. He, himself, gives thanks to Philip K. Dick and Jorge Louis Borges and J. G. Ballard for his ideas, among certain mathematicians, philosophers, and nihilists of every stripe. He also gives us many great examples to support the context and the theme that pretty much made me nod and grin and want to curse him.

Why? Because in a lot of ways, he's entirely right. The debate about Art and Life is an old one. Art imitates Life, but Life imitates Art, too. We see it everywhere, from advertising to the great movies of nostalgia for times that never were to practically every dream we subscribe to. Like this example: wishing that we could be just like *insert impossible celebrity that is totally fake*. There is no substance to it. It is an artistic representation that we want to become, but when enough of us strive for it, we change reality to fit that mold in countless little or even big ways until Life, or Reality, has been changed. It doesn't alter the fact that there is no substance. It just means that we're all living the simulacra. The simulation, the Art, is merely the first step, but Art always has its foundations in the simulacra, the Real. When we can no longer figure out what is life and what is art, we have figured out that we are stuck in a recursive loop.

Many modern non-fiction books spell out the idea much more clearly than Baudrillard did. All our language is an example of this. So is our preoccupation with Myths. Let's not forget the very concept of money. They're all fake, but they're used in order to make a map of the terrain. And let's not fool ourselves. Most of us believe in the infallibility of money.

Come on. Give me some. Now. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Baudrillard is line a painfully verbose version of Dave Chappelle in Undercover Brother. He makes great points but his writing style obfuscates them and sometimes you just get the feeling he hates everything. I spent a lot of time reading this going "What the hell is he talking about?" before things would finally make sense. I guess this is what happens when you get a book from The Matrix.

Consider, though, his point about how when a simulation is identical to reality, both cease to be real. With the advent of social media, it's now possible to simulate social life almost perfectly. Indeed, the premise of Catfish is people being fooled by online profiles that have all the signs of being a different person only to find that this profile doesn't actually exist. When a simulation of person mirrors an actual person identically, do the simulation or the person themself still any meaning? A priori, they're equivalent. Or what of the Japanese "singers" that are entirely computer simulated and even have their own concerts? If both produce the same effect, does the real singer actually have value? There's enough in this book that you could go on about it forever. However, I strongly recommend that you don't do that. Good stuff to think about, though, and packed with references to much clearer source materials. ( )
  trilliams | May 30, 2015 |
A turning point for intellectual expansion towards the end of last century. The Matrix, Altered Carbon or The Bequeathal-Godsent would not have happened without this one. A very important read. ( )
  aguba | Nov 11, 2013 |
Say "aleatory" again. Say "aleatory" again. I dare you. I double-dare you, motherfucker.

Okay, aside from that, I really liked this book. Much more entertaining than is the norm for poststructuralist theory: the little passage about theme parks ringing Los Angeles like power stations will stick with me for a while, like a tidbit from a favorite novel. Most of the content here isn't the sort that you can take away and use to live your life, but it's fun and relevant in a vague way. It's weird to see how much of the theory is more applicable now than at the time of its publication. "Whoa, this is totally about Facebook," and so on. ( )
1 abstimmen breadhat | Jul 23, 2013 |
keine Rezensionen | Rezension hinzufügen

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen (7 möglich)

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Jean BaudrillardHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Blumbergs, IlmārsUmschlaggestalterCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Glaser, Sheila FariaÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Kraule, DaceHerausgeberCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Madžule, SarmīteÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt

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"The simulacrum is never what hides the truth — it is truth that hides the fact that there is none. The simulacrum is true." — Ecclesiastes
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If once we are able to view the Borges fable in which the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up covering the territory exactly (the decline of the Empire witnesses the fraying of this map, little by little, and its fall into ruins, though some shreds are still discernible in the deserts -- the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction testifying to a pride equal to the Empire and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, a bit as the double ends by being confused with the real through aging) -- as the most beautiful allegory of simulation, this fable has now come full circle for us, and possesses nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra.
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Ideology only corresponds to a corruption of reality through signs; simulation corresponds to a short circuit of reality and to its duplication through signs. It is always the goal of the ideological analysis to restore the objective process, it is always a false problem to wish to restore the truth beneath the simulacrum.
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The first full-length translation in English of an essential work of postmodernist thought

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