Sunday, May 16, 2021
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Jean Baudrillard: Simulacra and Simulation

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Author: Jean Baudrillard
Title: Simulacra and Simulation
Format: Paperback
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Rated: * * * * *

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First I must admit that what brought me to even find out about this book was the movie The Matrix. In The Matrix Revisited Keanu Reeves talks about the script, the authors, and how he was introduced to it. He claims that this book was one of three in a list of required reading (along with Out of Control by Kevin Kelly and Introducing Evolutionary Psychology by Dylan Evans and Oscar Zarate )that the actors must experience before even viewing the movie script. Needless to say this aroused my own curiosity enough to read it as well. In the movie you will note when Neo gets the wooden box to five the 3.5" floppy to the guy at the door in the beginning the box is designed to look like a book with the cover title of this book. This is the first full-length English translation of the French novel in postmodernism by Frenchman Jean Baudrillard. Baudrillard uses the concepts of simulacra--a copy without an original--and simulation to display how perceptions of reality’ are altered bases on cultural stigma. "The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth--it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true." Baudrillard points out very clearly how our modern culture is contrived of images and other stimulus from media sources and simulations rather than what is considered real and how it becomes what is real to us by perception. For instance, we are all familiar with various commercials and other forms of advertising that are creations, sometimes of non-real visuals and events, to promote products. We see people and places on TV that we have never been to yet we know them visually as if we had. The simulation is real to us not the real place. Another and maybe even better example would be how we relate to ancient cultures. Archeologists dig them up and create simulations of their cultures in museums that we see. We have never seen the real societies and thus the simulacra of these cultures is what becomes real to us about these cultures. Baudrillard clearly defines how various things like Disney, multi-media advertising and many other sources have replaced the stimulus of the real for us and how our media culture has become our reality. Amazingly much of his writings are perfect analogies for technologies that did not exist in his time period. Another important aspect of his thoughts that I think should be brought up that seemed to impress me was that an opposite can serve to illuminate or stand as prove of existence for another. This is rather difficult to explain and the Möbius Strip is used to explain this theory. [For more information on the Möbius Strip please read my review of the vampire novel Necroscope.] By traveling the path of logic to one perspective it can then lead to proof of it’s opposite. This can be used to explain many aspects of the psyche as well as cultural issues revolving around such topics as war and peace. This whole concept and topic of discussion of simulacra and simulation brings in the realization of the hyperreal and the implosion or collapse of opposites. Much of the book is actually philosophical but yet very valid for our modern times and well worth the read. However, like many books on philosophy don’t expect to get any real answers only new perspectives of thinking. According to Baudrillard we now exist is a world which is comprised of the hyperreal and self-perpetuating simulacra.

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