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- The Jean Baudrillard Reader
- Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations
- Jean Baudrillard: Live Theory
- The Eye Center
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The Jean Baudrillard Reader
They are harmonious, optimistic, and aim at the reconstitution, or the ideal institution, of a nature in God's image.
Their aim is Promethean: world-wide application, continuous expansion, liberation of indeterminate energy desire is part of the utopias belonging to this order of simulacra. Their aim is maximum operationality, hyperreality, total control. To the first order corresponds the imaginary of the utopia. To the second, SF in the strict sense. To the third The probable answer is that the "good old" SF imagination is dead, and that something else is beginning to emerge and not only in fiction, but also in theory.
Both traditional SF and theory are destined to the same fate: flux and imprecision are putting an end to them as specific genres. There is no real and no imaginary except at a certain distance. What happens when this distance, even the one separating the real from the imaginary, begins to disappear and to be absorbed by the model alone?
Currently, from one order of simulacra to the next, we are witnessing the reduction and absorption of this distance, of this separation which permits a space for ideal or critical projection.
It is at a maximum in utopias, where a transcendent world, a radically different universe, is portrayed its most individualized form remains the Romantic dream, wherein transcendence is represented in all its depth, even unto its subconscious structure; but, in all cases, the separation from the real world is maximal—it is the utopian island in contrast to the continent of the real. It is diminished considerably in SF: SF only being, most often, an extravagant projection of, but qualitatively not different from, the real world of production.
Extrapolations of mechanics or energy, velocities or powers approaching infinity—SF's fundamental patterns and scenarios are those of mechanics, of metallurgy, and so forth. Projective hypostasis of the robot. In the limited universe of the pre-Industrial era, utopias counterposed an ideal alternative world.
In the potentially limitless universe of the production era, SF adds by multiplying the world's own possibilities. It is totally reduced in the implosive era of models. Models no longer constitute an imaginary domain with reference to the real; they are, themselves, an apprehension of the real, and thus leave no room for any fictional extrapolation—they are immanent, and therefore leave no room for any kind of transcendentalism. The stage is now set for simulation, in the cybernetic sense of the word—that is to say, for all kinds of manipulation of these models hypothetical scenarios, the creation of simulated situations, etc.
Reality was able to surpass fiction, the surest sign that the imaginary has possibly been outpaced. But the real could never surpass the model, for the real is only a pretext of the model. The imaginary was a pretext of the real in a world dominated by the reality principle.
Today, it is the real which has become the pretext of the model in a world governed by the principle of simulation. And, paradoxically, it is the real which has become our true utopia—but a utopia that is no longer a possibility, a utopia we can do no more than dream about, like a lost object. Perhaps the SF of this era of cybernetics and hyperreality will only be able to attempt to "artificially" resurrect the "historical" worlds of the past, trying to reconstruct in vitro and down to its tiniest details the various episodes of bygone days: events, persons, defunct ideologies—all now empty of meaning and of their original essence, but hypnotic with retrospective truth.
Like the Civil War in Philip K. Dick's The Simulacra ; like a gigantic hologram in three dimensions, where fiction will never again be a mirror held to the future, but rather a desperate rehallucinating of the past. We can no longer imagine other universes; and the gift of transcendence has been taken from us as well. Classic SF was one of expanding universes: it found its calling in narratives of space exploration, coupled with more terrestrial forms of exploration and colonization indigenous to the 19th and 20th centuries.
There is no cause-effect relationship to be seen here. Not simply because, today, terrestrial space has been virtually completely encoded, mapped, inventoried, saturated; has in some sense been shrunk by globalization; has become a collective marketplace not only for products but also for values, signs, and models, thereby leaving no room any more for the imaginary.
It is not exactly because of all this that the exploratory universe technical, mental, cosmic of SF has also stopped functioning. But the two phenomena are closely linked, and they are two aspects of the same general evolutionary process: a period of implosion, after centuries of explosion and expansion.
When a system reaches its limits, its own saturation point, a reversal begins to takes place. And something happens also to the imagination. Until now, we have always had large reserves of the imaginary, because the coefficient of reality is proportional to the imaginary, which provides the former with its specific gravity.
This is also true of geographical and space exploration: when there is no more virgin ground left to the imagination, when the map covers all the territory, something like the reality principle disappears. The conquest of space constitutes, in this sense, an irreversible threshold which effects the loss of terrestrial coordinates and referentiality. Reality, as an internally coherent and limited universe, begins to hemorrhage when its limits are stretched to infinity.
The conquest of space, following the conquest of the planet, promotes either the de-realizing of human space, or the reversion of it into a simulated hyperreality. Witness, for example, this two-room apartment with kitchen and bath launched into orbit with the last Moon capsule raised to the power of space, one might say ; the perceived ordinariness of a terrestrial habitat then assumes the values of the cosmic and its hypostasis in Space, the satellization of the real in the transcendence of Space—it is the end of metaphysics, the end of fantasy, the end of SF.
The era of hyperreality has begun. From this point on, something must change: the projection, the extrapolation, this sort of pantographic exuberance which made up the charm of SF are now no longer possible. It is no longer possible to manufacture the unreal from the real, to create the imaginary from the data of reality. The process will be rather the reverse: to put in place "decentered" situations, models of simulation, and then to strive to give them the colors of the real, the banal, the lived; to reinvent the real as fiction, precisely because the real has disappeared from our lives.
A hallucination of the real, of the lived, of the everyday—but reconstituted, sometimes even unto its most disconcertingly unusual details, recreated like an animal park or a botanical garden, presented with transparent precision, but totally lacking substance, having been derealized and hyperrealized. It would, rather, evolve implosively, in the same way as our image of the universe.
It would seek to revitalize, to reactualize, to rebanalize fragments of simulation—fragments of this universal simulation which our presumed "real" world has now become for us. But where can one find fictional works which already incorporate this condition of reversion? Clearly, the short stories of Philip K. Dick "gravitate," one might say, in this new space although it can no longer be expressed as such because, in fact, this new universe is "anti-gravitational," or, if it still gravitates, it does so around the hole of the real, around the hole of the imaginary.
Dick does not create an alternate cosmos nor a folklore or a cosmic exoticism, nor intergalactic heroic deeds; the reader is, from the outset, in a total simulation without origin, past, or future—in a kind of flux of all coordinates mental, spatio-temporal, semiotic. It is not a question of parallel universes, or double universes, or even of possible universes: not possible nor impossible, nor real nor unreal.
It is hyperreal. It is a universe of simulation, which is something altogether different. And this is so not because Dick speaks specifically of simulacra. SF has always done so, but it has always played upon the double , on artificial replication or imaginary duplication, whereas here the double has disappeared.
There is no more double; one is always already in the other world, an other world which is not another, without mirrors or projection or utopias as means for reflection. The simulation is impassable, unsurpassable, checkmated , without exteriority. We can no longer move "through the mirror" to the other side, as we could during the golden age of transcendence. Perhaps an even more convincing example would be Ballard and his fictional evolution from his earliest "fantasmagorical" short stories—poetic, dream-like, alienating—to Crash , which even more than High Rise or Concrete Island constitutes without doubt the contemporary model for this SF which is no longer SF.
Crash is our world, nothing is really "invented" therein, everything is hyper-functional: traffic and accidents, technology and death, sex and the camera eye. Everything is like a huge simulated and synchronous machine; an acceleration of our own models, of all the models which surround us, all mixed together and hyper-operationalized in the void. Fiction can go beyond reality or inversely, which is more subtle , but according to the same rules of the game.
But in Crash , there is neither fiction nor reality—a kind of hyperreality has abolished both. And therein lies the defining character, if there is one, of our contemporary SF. In point of fact, SF of this sort is no longer an elsewhere, it is an everywhere: in the circulation of models here and now, in the very axiomatic nature of our simulated environment. What SF author, for instance, would have "imagined" although, to be precise, this is no longer "imaginable" the "reality" of West German simulacra-factories, factories which rehire unemployed people in all the roles and all the positions of the traditional manufacturing process, but who produce nothing , whose only activity involves chain-of-command games, competition, memos, account sheets, etc.
All material production is duplicated in a void one of these simulacra-factories even went into "real" bankruptcy, laying off a second time its own unemployed workers. This, indeed, is simulation: not that these factories are fake, but that they are real—or hyperreal—and that, by being so, they send all "real" production, that of "serious" factories, into the same hyperreality.
And one can see that there is no need to invent it: it is here before us, rising out of a world without secrets, without depth. One can, for example, clearly discern the difference between machine robot-mechanics characteristic of the second order and cybernetic machines like computers whi c h derive axiomatically from the third. But one order can easily contaminate the other, and the computer can very well function like a supermachine, a super-robot, a mechanical superpower: exhibiting the productive genius of the simulacra of the second order, not following the processes of pure simulation, and still bearing witness of the reflexes of a finalized universe including ambivalence and revolt, like the computer in or Shalmanezer in Stand on Zanzibar.
Between the operatic the theatrical status, fantastic machinery, the "grand Opera" of technology , which corresponds to the first order, the operative the industrial status, production and execution of power and energy , which corresponds to the second order, and the operational the cybernetic status, uncertainty, the flux of the "meta-technological" , which corresponds to the third order, all kinds of interferences can be produced today within the SF genre.
But only the last order should be of any genuine interest to us. Ballard's Crash. From the classical and even the cybernetic viewpoint, technology is an extension of the body. It is the evolved functional capacity of a human organism which allows it both to rival Nature and to triumphantly remold it in its own image. From Marx to McLuhan, one sees the same instrumentalist vision of machines and of language: relays, extensions, media-mediators of a Nature destined ideally to become the organic body.
In this "rational" view, the body itself is only a medium. Inversely, in its baroque and apocalyptic treatment in Crash , technology is the deadly deconstruction of the body—no longer a functional medium, but an extension of death: dismemberment and mutilation, not in the pejorative vision of a lost unity of subject which is still the perspective of psychoanalysis but in the explosive vision of a body given over to "symbolic wounds," a body commixed with technology's capacity for violation and violence and in the brutal surgery that it continually performs in creating incisions, excisions, scar tissue, gaping body holes—of which sexual wounds and sensual pleasures are only a case in point and the mechanical servitude in the workplace, the palliated caricature —a body with neither organs nor organ pleasures, entirely dominated by gash marks, excisions, and technical scars—all under the gleaming sign of a sexuality that is without referentiality and without limits.
Her mutilation and death became a coronation of her image at the hands of a colliding technology, a celebration of her individual limbs and facial planes, gestures and skin tones.
Each of the spectators at the accident site would carry away an image of the violent transformation of this woman, of the complex wounds that fused together her own sexuality and the hard technology of the automobile. Each of them would join his own imagination, the tender membranes of his mucous surfaces, his groves of erectile tissue, to the wounds of this minor actress through the medium of his own motorcar, touching them as he drove in a medley of stylized postures.
Each would place his lips on those bleeding apertures The automobile crash had made possible the final and longed-for union of the actress and the members of her audience.
The technological is never grasped except by auto accident, in other words by the violence done to itself and the violence done to the body. It is all identical: all shocks, all collisions, all impacts, all the metallurgy of accidents is inscribed in a semiurgy of the body—not in anatomy or physiology, but in a semiurgy of contusions, scars, mutilations, and wounds which are like new sexual organs opened in the body. Thus, the codifying of the body as workforce in the order of production is replaced by the dispersion of the body as anagram in the order of mutilation.
Gone are the "erogenous zones": everything becomes a hole for reflex discharges. But above all as in primitive initiatory tortures, unlike our own , the entire body becomes a sign which offers itself in the exchange of body language. Bodies and technology each diffracting through the other their own frantic symbols. Carnal abstractions and designs. There is no affectivity behind all this: no psychology, no ambivalence or desire, no libido or death-drive.
Death is a natural implication in this limitless exploration of the possible forms of violence done to the body, but this is never as in sadism or masochism what the violence purposely and perversely aims at, never a distortion of sense and sex in comparison to what? There is no repressed unconscious affective or representational therein, except via a second reading which would necessarily reinject still more twisted meaning in order to conform to the psychoanalytical model.
The nonsensicalness, the brutality, of this mixture of body and technology is totally immanent—it is the reversion of one into the other. And an unprecedented sort of sexuality results from this, a kind of potential dizziness linked to the pure inscription of the body's non-existent signs: a ritual symbolism of incisions and brands, like in the graffiti of the subways of New York.
Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations
They are harmonious, optimistic, and aim at the reconstitution, or the ideal institution, of a nature in God's image. Their aim is Promethean: world-wide application, continuous expansion, liberation of indeterminate energy desire is part of the utopias belonging to this order of simulacra. Their aim is maximum operationality, hyperreality, total control. To the first order corresponds the imaginary of the utopia. To the second, SF in the strict sense.
Jean Baudrillard's work on how contemporary society is dominated by the mass media has become extraordinarily influential. He is notorious for arguing that there is no real world, only simulations which have altered what events mean, and that only violent symbolic exchange can prevent the world becoming a total simulation. An ideal introduction to this most singular cultural critic and philosopher, Jean Baudrillard: live theory offers a comprehensive, critical account of Baudrillard's unsettling, visionary and often prescient work. Baudrillard's relation to a range of theorists as diverse as Nietzsche, Marx, McLuhan, Foucault and Lyotard is explained, and the impact of his thought on contemporary politics, popular culture and art is analyzed. Finally, in the new interview included here, Baudrillard outlines his own position and responds to his critics.
Jean Baudrillard: Live Theory
Jean Baudrillard was perhaps the most controversial of all social and cultural theorists. He has been variously vilified as a 'postmodernist', an 'overrated French theorist' and one of the 'intellectual imposters'. This book concentrates on what Baudrillard has written over five decades and the order in which he wrote it. The Reader comprises extracts of Baudrillard's writings from the sixties to the noughties, with an editorial introduction and a concluding reading guide.
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The Eye Center
The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth--it is the truth which conceals that there is none. If we were able to take as the finest allegory of simulation the Borges tale where the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up exactly covering the territory but where, with the decline of the Empire this map becomes frayed and finally ruined, a few shreds still discernible in the deserts - the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction, bearing witness to an imperial pride and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, rather as an aging double ends up being confused with the real thing , this fable would then have come full circle for us, and now has nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra. Abstraction today is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance.
While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader. Your Name. Your Email.
- Если мы вызовем помощь, шифровалка превратится в цирк. - Так что же вы предлагаете? - спросила Сьюзан. Она хотела только одного - поскорее уйти. Стратмор на минуту задумался. - Не спрашивай меня, как это случилось, - сказал он, уставившись в закрытый люк. - Но у меня такое впечатление, что мы совершенно случайно обнаружили и нейтрализовали Северную Дакоту.
Я не хотел, чтобы ты узнала об этом. Я был уверен, что он тебе все рассказал. Сьюзан ощутила угрызения совести.
Плохой совет, мистер Беккер, - огрызнулся Джабба. - Нужно сразу быть точным. У шифров-убийц обычно есть функция злопамятства - чтобы не допустить использования метода проб и ошибок. Некорректный ввод только ускорит процесс разрушения.
Это было настоящее чудо. Священник готовился начать молитву. Беккер осмотрел свой бок.