Lately I have begun thinking about this book again particularly in the context of Covid and the 2020 U.S. election, where the pandemic has made apparent the inability of our institutions to serve their functions (e.g. for the CDC to prepare and stockpile supplies in the event of a rare mass pandemic) or for either party to offer any authenticity behind their expressed purposes ("draining the swamp" by intensifying the culture of corruption in D.C. or helping Main Street through massive Wall Street bailouts). These institutions and parties are essentially emulating the familiar principles of the past while operating by the power structures that have captured them. We seem to take it for granted.
For instance, is anything lost by instead saying:
Capitalist media companies powered by modern technology are incentivized by profit motive to distort their portrayal of reality.
Specifically, their portrayals will paint a picture of reality more enticing than the real thing; this is self-evident since their revenue is tied directly to 'enticement'.
Once this fictional portrayal has been established and enough people believe in it, later fictional events of the fictional world may become as significant as actual events.
So, institutions affected by capitalist media portrayal will adjust their valuation of potential actions to take this into account. As a result, their behavior will deviate from its traditional role in the context of our real society when it can benefit more by playing a role in the fictional media-created portrayal of the world.
Of course the original version is shorter and sounds cooler, but it's also far more vague and will only be comprehensible to a much smaller subset of the audience here.
What bothers me especially is the original expression's framing in terms of an alternate reality. What does that add? It can't just be fiction but has to be 'hyperreal'? I get it, it's a particular type of fiction so it's more specific than that. The intention is probably like the sense in which a cartoon avatar of a woman with exaggerated curves might be called 'hyperreal'.
And I realize I'm revealing my own philosophical commitments here by suggesting there is a single shared reality to begin with, and I realize the author does not share this stance—but I mean... this is not a community of philosophers: why implicitly adopt a stance which won't be shared 99% of readers as the base framing if there is any legitimate interesting in communication here? I could understand if it were actually necessary to communicate the core idea, but it does not appear to be so.
The Matrix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf9J35yzM3E
American Psycho: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJfurfb5_kw
I really wished for some years Mini Disc took off, I loved it as a format; compact, rewritable, protected, storage capacity of a CD.
There's more where this came from because the duo behind this channel are both English majors.
1. The language contains so many obscure words that the intent is unclear. I personally think that if you cannot convey your ideas in simple language you have failed at communication. That goes for philosophers, mathematicians and engineers (of which I am one).
2. There seems to be an unstated assumption the reality we construct, examples including culture and society, are somehow less meaningful or less real than... the real world. But he does not clearly define what this "real world" is. And he's using the term "real" in odd enough ways, that I'm not sure what was meant. Perhaps the exploration of this assumption is what the book is driving at. I would find that a fascinating discussing, if it wasn't couched in such mystical sounding language.
Disclaimer: I have not read the book, only the article.
That’s not to say he’s necessarily a great writer... but there really is meat on the bone.
Not everything can be explained using simple language. Try explaining monads in simple language, or ontology.
This video explains some of Baudrillard's concepts in a pretty clear way: https://youtu.be/9zEtalr5pEA
>Perhaps the exploration of this assumption is what the book is driving at. I would find that a fascinating discussing
Alas it is not
An example of where he was going is one of the first things he describes about the difference: countries think that they gain power by having nuclear weapons - the capability to attack and defend. But the actual reality turned out to be the opposite - nuclear armed countries became handicapped through stalemate.
So by not knowing the actual reality, they operated in a simulation of reality, or simulacrum, and ended up with results that they didn’t necessarily expect at the time.
I'm not sure what poststructuralists in general have to say about "true" reality. I take your word about what Baudrillard was getting it (it fits with what I've read about his writing and his activism, and the one or two essays of his I've read), but the legacy of poststructuralism--the body of thought unified by the notion that the reality we experience is socially constructed and arguably "arbitrary"--is a skepticism and even cynicism about the existence of objective truth. Poststructuralism didn't invent skepticism toward or rejection of objective truth, but they gave it an embodiment that at least superficially fits into our modern scientific age.
I have read Benedict Anderson's "Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism", written around the same time as "Simulcra and Simulation" but arising in a completely different scholarly niche (international politics). IMO, it provides a more descriptivist, concrete explication of constructed social spaces and how we conflate them with "reality". After reading "Imagined Communities" you easily buy into the basic thesis that culture imbues our physical space with meaning and substance, often completely subsuming whatever "objectively real" characteristics we might use to describe things or events. And so it's easier to see where Baudrillard is coming from. But it's also easier to see where Baudrillard and other French poststructuralists go off the rails with unnecessary claims and conclusions. Notwithstanding the diversity in claims, they all basically seem to turn what Anderson deftly makes a trivial and obvious (in hindsight) observation into a pretense affirming their own personal beliefs--for example, tired and entirely predictable continental leftist ideas about the class struggle.
The basic idea is very simple - our society is being organized economically, politically and socially according to models, and the effects of those models are being measured by those implementing them through polling and other indirect methods.
This means that what we experience in everyday life is structured according to models that have drifted away from whatever they were meant to model originally over time. And that these groundless illusions are where what looks like politics is taking place.
There's more but that's the gist of it.
The Pandemic Never Happened.
This is also the mindset of people who look at drip or color field paintings and think (or worse, say out loud!) that their toddler niece could have done this! Without even trying to see the painting.
There's also the narcissistic variation of this: the book apparently says some things that don't agree with your fundamental engineering-ly view of reality therefore what a charlatan. Imagine being a serious Christian who is this intolerant of eg. Buddhist literature.
The alternate mindset is that of an open mind willing to engage with the open-ended. It's very well possible that your pragmatic engineer worldviews are naïve to countless aspects you're even unable to think about right now. This doesn't mean you have to trade away your identity as a whatever you think you are to engage with different ideas.
I don't think we should be discouraging people from trying to unveil the simulacra regardless. Imagine a world where everyone believed every piece of news as absolutely true. We'd still have a geocentric model of our solar system. As long as I can hear vocal disagreement about what is true, I can sleep at night knowing that some progress is being made.
with links to many other similar and older concepts of the same...
edit: now playing Imagination - Just an Illusion (1982)
> The term māyā occurs 70 times in Rigveda and around 27 times in the Atharvaveda; and in all these places Yaska, Sayana, Dayananda Saraswati agree the term means Prajñā, jnana-vishesha (specific knowledge). The term Asuri-Maya in the Yajurveda at one place was translated by Uvvat as the "knowledge of the vital air". With regard to the usage of the word Maya in the Rigveda, Radhakrishnan opines it was only used to signify might and power. Maya as the cause of illusion or as the sense of Avidya (lack of knowledge) has never been used in the Vedas. According to Monier Williams, Maya meant wisdom and extraordinary power in an earlier language, but later the word came to mean illusion and magic.
So, depending, "Maya" can mean "illusion" or "mirage", but the original meaning might be closer to Prajñā, which means "non-discriminating knowledge" or "intuitive apprehension". According to Chan and most Zen lines, those "states" of consciousness are obtained by practicing non-clinging discrimination in a given moment. Maybe one way of thinking about this is not adding to the observation of something that has been discriminated already.
Chan texts mention holding vexation and the polar observations of the vexation (good vs. evil or light vs. darkness as examples) without "adding" to the metaphor. The "adding" is the part that can be considered important (to not do). Consider the highly polarized topics that result from unfettered discourse on the Internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE3j_RHkqJc
"Sitting with the rock is wet" without wondering how much longer it is going to rain.
Or, observing an imagined (in mind) scenario without "adding to it" in the moment that it is being perceived.
edit: by that i mean having that "neuroarchitecture" which just percieves, but can't imagine anything(visually). Reminds me of the relatively recent (6 months to a year ago?) discussions about not having an internal voice while thinking, which was obviously new to a large set of people, while my whole state of mind revolves around thinking without vocalizing. Alas, i digress...
Liberation of vibration (sound) must occur before liberation of form (images). Nobel effort spans lifetimes.
Jean Baudrillard is the worst kind of intellectual charlatan and I am surprised to see folks around here who don't see that.
Actually Baudrillard, the gulf war DID happen. The phenomenon that he identifies in books like this (Tv news tries to show you an illusion instead of the truth) don't need post-modernist mystical explanations.
There is a Philosophize This! episode which is quite a good introduction to Baudrillard's ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCgoKIT0Ufc&t=109s
I read Simulacra and Simulation after hearing about it related to the Matrix. It was a bit hard to follow and I lost interest.
How much control did/do we have anyway, and how much did we have back then?
Whenever I read philosophers like Baudrillard or that share similar ideas, I can't help it but to see their thesis for very complex, very elaborate and very ornate systems of epicycles around the concept of value.
A lot of them don't even acknowledge the assumption that there's intrinsic value, and just run with it, with expected results. From Marxism multipliers of labor to simulacra, to me it just sounds like constructions to avoid the idea of value being an emergent property.
I remember reading about this, and being just astonished how many significant details the Wachovskis hid in those movies, even if they were only visible for a second or two.
1) According to mainstream (I disagree), the sequels dropped the ball. It's somewhat popular to make fun of the Matrix movies that are not the first.
2) There's a lot of symbolism in the movies, and it's not less important than the superficial layer. You could say it makes up a second-layer in the movies, and if you don't get it you're missing part of the content.
3) The first movie referenced Baudrillard a lot, but it didn't (fully) follow Baudrillard's philosophy, as Baudrillard himself has said. To be more specific (but simplistic), Baudrillard's work that was referenced represented a supplantation of Plato's allegory of the cave, but The Matrix in many ways is an illustration of Plato's allegory, reaching Plato's conclusions, not Baudrillard's. Baudrillard was approached to work on the sequels, but rejected it.
4) The badly-received Matrix sequels examined non-western philosophies (which are hardly familiar to mainstream audiences). The well-received first The Matrix movie examined the ever-so-familiar Plato's allegory and Christian themes. The sequels broached a lot of new ground and required intellectual effort; the first movie by comparison was easy watching.
5) Some people think that The Matrix has badly aged CGI (not me).
For all the interest that went into Simulacra among the writing and production crew, I feel like it's not without significance, accidental or otherwise, that that was the book selected to be hollowed out for Neo's shelf safe, to have its substance removed in order to make a place for the stuff of the movie moment in which it appeared...
It's a shame the visuals don't hold up well.
But, when I saw it I thought it looked bad, and I haven't watched the movie since release. So it's not that it hasn't aged well, at release I remember being thinking it was bad. Going back and watching the clip again I'm ambivalent. Maybe it's supposed to look like that? But it looks like a cartoon. It's a good "looking" scene but about every 5 seconds the character's motion is jarringly strange. Sometimes it's rubbery and haha funny, and I respect that to a degree. Like it's supposed to lighten the mood maybe? But sometimes it is just distracting.
Besides some bad CGI like the staff fight, Matrix still has many awesome scenes with SFX that have aged pretty well, though.
One movie whose bad CGI is painful to see is The Lord of the Rings. Once you notice how bad the tiny "dolls" running around Moria look, you just cannot unsee it. And that cave troll and Legolas fight... :( A shame because when LotR did actual makeup and practical effects, they were awesome.