Baudrillard begins by suggesting the impossibility of Borges’s exhaustive
map, a precise cartography of the empire. According to Baudrillard, such a
map is no longer possible; the farcical project is rendered impossible because
of "the precession of simulacra," which we might take as an onslaught of
images without immediate reference or "copies without originals." If images
are referential, simulacra shroud the reference, resulting in what Baudrillard
calls the hyperreal as well as conditions giving rise to "the era of
simulation [which] is inaugurated by a liquidation of all referentials" (2).
Hereafter, maps precede territory (1); this applies to the medicalization of the
body and anticipations of war-action as the trainings for each are staged
through elaborate and artificial simulations. Also, Baudrillard works this
theory on Disneyland, Watergate and God.
In the first chapter, "The Precession of Simulacra," Baudrillard sets up a
theoretical imbroglio (17); subsequent chapters function as applications and
cases for trying our and further complicating and extrapolating these concepts. Early on, Baudrillard works through challenging (often surprising) engagements with
religion (5), ethnology (7), museumification of "our entire linear and
accumulative culture" (10). He argues that "demuseumification" is just as
artificial as the ethnologist’s "pure form" project: "Repatriating it is nothing
but a supplementary subterfuge, acting as if nothing had happened and indulging
in retrospective hallucination" (11). Baudrillard is clear that we
have moved outlived the society of the spectacle, outlasting "the specific kinds
of alienation and repression that [the spectacle] implied" (30).
Spectacle, as I read it through Debord, acknowledges an excess of
representation, of hypercirculating image-objects, much of which is
apprehendable; comparably, simulacra are somehow sly or non-obvious, advancing
quietly and without exhibitive splendor paraded in the spectacle.
On images, Baudrillard writes of four "successive phases":
it is the reflection of a profound reality;
it masks and denatures a profound reality;
it masks the absence of a profound reality;
it has no relation to any reality whatsoever: it is its own pure simulacrum. (6)
Baudrillard is like a hop on a boogie-board: so much to try out (as much as
you’re up for). But I’ll note just a couple of things, then let the vague
referents below serve as cues for a later date (these notes have got to be
readable in perpetuity…er, next year, anyhow). First, with simulacra and
simulation, Baudrillard suggests a turn from persuasion to deterrence (29)
(this, in the section called "End of the panoptic system.") I need to think
through this turnabout a bit more–think about what this might mean for
rhetoric, what B. calls the "end of perspectival and panoptic space" (30).
One more: in "Clone Story," B. mentions scissiparity (96) (dict.com:
reproduction by fission). Just interesting, scissiparity.
Two quotations: "The only weapon of power, its only strategy against this
defection, is to reinject the real and the referential everywhere, to persuade
us of the reality of the social, of the gravity of the economies and the
finalities of production" (22).
"What is essential today is to evaluate this double challenge–the challenge of
the masses to meaning and their silence (which is not at all passive
resistance)–the challenge to meaning that comes from the media and its
Simvitees: Eisenstein (33), Loud family (27), McLuhan (30, 82) Rel. Benjamin and aura
Returns: museum (8), repatriation (11), proof in antis (19); network of
artificial signs (20), mapping and confinement (29), satellitization (33, 35),
information and the destruction of the social (81), soft technologies (101).
With this installment of notes, I’m shifting phases…moving from what we’ve termed
new media/visualization groundwork to what’s next: Imagologies (Taylor
and Saarinen), Picture Theory (Mitchell), and Visual Display… (Tufte).
Barthes – The
Photographic Message (1961)
Rhetoric of the Image (1964)
Barthes – The
Third Meaning (1970)
Benjamin – The
Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936)
Society of the Spectacle (1967/1983)