Continuation of Postmodernism Lecture
December 5, 2011
Jean Baudrillard (1929 --)
- French philosopher
The rise of the simulacra
- 3 orders of representation
- sign refers to something real (a referent)
- sign refers to other signs that refer to something real (copies of originals)
- signs refer only to themselves - and come to replace the real
- simulacrum: a copy for which there is no original
- there is no real referent in the real world, only a tripping reference to other
images to other images and so on.
- we are always reading things in references to other images.
- had to refer to another image to have a relationship to it. instead of thinking
“my arm hurts I should go to the hospital” you go to the hospital because of a
first aid manual that you remember tells you what a broken arm looks like
- we get to a point where we can’t understand reality without working through layers of meaning
- Images, simulacrum, have ‘murdered’ the ‘real’
- For reality is a principle, and it is this principle that is lost (228)
- reality sees representation as pertaining to some material reality external to it
- Hyperreality -- material reality is the world of images and simulations
- murdered a reality beneath the images. if we cleared away all the clutter, we could see the true
- reality is a principle, and this principle is lost in hyperreality.
- the principle is that we believe that representation pertains to some material reality. that is
what he means by reality being a principle -- the belief that representation can stand in
for the real.
The Implosion of Meaning
- Images can only refer to and exchange in themselves: an endless circuit of hyperreality and
uninterrupted circuit without reference
- It is in this circuit that the meaning implodes
- our will to spectacle is greater than our will to knowledge
- while we quest to understand and know the world, we’d rather watch. we’re transfixed
by all the images so all we do is watch. we don’t want to know because knowing requires
work. knowing is hard, watching spectacle is easy. when we live in a world where there
are all these competing claims to truth and people are trying to sell you stuff and you
can’t figure out who to trust, it’s way easier to just sit back and watch it, not intervene.
- meaning is so overproduced that it becomes meaningless
- there’s so many different claims to truth, different political positions, different advice,
Disneyland as Example of HyperSpectacularized World we live in
- “Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when, in
fact all of LA and the rest of US surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation. It is no longer a question of false representation of reality
(ideology) but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real” (220)
- all of america is like disneyland
- all of the US is mass produced, image based.
- Disney land is as much for adults as it is for kids, there’s not a lot of difference between
reality and fantasy
- it’s presented as imaginary to make us believe that the rest of the world is real but it’s
not. everything is hyperreal or simulated
- any shopping mall: hypermediated outdoor space that’s covered with billboards,
advertising images. this is our new environment, the real that we’re living inside.
- “The dissolution of TV into life and the dissolution of life into TV” (Baudrillard, Simulations,
- rise of reality television. Every season we carve out more corners of life that get their
own television show. (ice road truckers, real estate)
- it’s like if it doesn’t happen on television, it doesn’t happen. it’s a legitimating force that
gives you legitimacy
- the biggest accomplishment you can have is being on television.
The Postmodern Scene for Baudrillard
- Totally abstractive, decorporeal, depoliticized realm made up of abstract sign systes in which
notions of truth meaning reality and objectivity are no longer operative terms.
- we suspect that there may be nothing under the image
- Restaurant Makeover Example: the restaurants aren’t really made over. They make a
set to make it look like it was demolished and then make a set to look like it was
changed and is super nice now. it’s still the same restaurant, but with a tv set in it.
The Ecstasy of Communication
- the masses only strategy of resistance is a refusal of meaning
- the masses must refuse to fully pa