Notes from Reading Simulation and Simulacrum by Jean Baudrillard
Simulation and Simulacrum is a philosophy book written in 1981 where Baudrillard aims to explore the relationship between reality, symbols and society. Recent technology has allowed us to copy texts and other things over and over calling into question even more which is the original and the copy, where is the value and the meaning. An obvious other example is the emergence of virtual reality which allows the illusion of the world just by putting a headset on. Baudrillard aims to show that the media presents a kind of reality which we believe in but actually it is just a very persuasive illusion. The film The Matrix was influenced by the book.
The real is produced from miniaturized cells, matrices, and memory banks, models of control
"Whoever fakes an illness can simply stay in bed and make everyone believe he is ill. Whoever simulates an illness produces in himself some of the symptoms" (Littré).
When the real is no longer what it was, nostalgia assumes its full meaning. There is a plethora of myths of origin and of signs of reality - a plethora of truth, of secondary objectivity, and authenticity.
In order for ethnology to live, its object must die; by dying, the object takes its revenge for being "discovered" and with its death defies the science that wants to grasp it.
The museum, instead of being circumscribed as a geometric site, is everywhere now, like a dimension of life.
It is thus very naive to look for ethnology in the Savages or in some Third World - it is here, everywhere, in the metropolises, in the White community, in a world completely cataloged and analyzed, then artificially resurrected under the auspices of the real, in a world of simulation,
death. In the same way, with the pretext of saving the original, one forbade visitors to enter the Lascaux caves, but an exact replica was constructed five hundred meters from it, so that everyone could see them (one glances through a peephole at the authentic cave, and then one visits the reconstituted whole).
Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal order
It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology) but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus of saving the reality principle.
The imaginary of Disneyland is neither true nor false, it is a deterrence machine set up in order to rejuvenate the fiction of the real in the opposite camp.
This world wants to be childish in order to make us believe that the adults are elsewhere, in the "real" world, and to conceal the fact that true childishness is everywhere - that it is that of the adults themselves who come here to act the child in order to foster illusions as to their real childishness.
prototype of this new function. But all the sexual, psychic, somatic recycling institutes, which proliferate in California, belong to the same order. People no longer look at each other, but there are institutes for that. They no longer touch each other, but there is contactotherapy. They no longer walk, but they go jogging, etc. Everywhere one recycles lost faculties, or lost bodies, or lost sociality, or the lost taste for food.
capital, immoral and without scruples, can only function behind a moral superstructure, and whoever revives this public morality (through indignation, denunciation, etc.) works spontaneously for the order of capital.
That is, we are in a logic of simula-tion, which no longer has anything to do with a logic of facts and an order of reason.
-: that in fact, power, genuine power no longer exists, and thus there is no risk whoever seizes power or seizes it again;
Conjunction of the system and of its extreme alternative like the two sides of a curved mirror, a "vicious" curvature of a political space that is henceforth magnetized, circularized, reversibilized from the right to the left,
Not so long ago, sex and work were fiercely opposed terms; today both are dissolved in the same type of demand.
It is always a question of proving the real through the imaginary, proving truth through scandal, proving the law through transgression, proving work through striking, proving the system through crisis,
the proof of art through antiart;
the Kennedys were murdered because they still had a political dimension. The others, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, only had the right to phantom attempts, to simulated murders.
Transgression and violence are less serious because they only contest the distribution of the real. Simulation is infinitely more dangerous because it always leaves open to supposition that, above and beyond its object, law and order themselves might be nothing but simulation.
The challenge of simulation is never admitted by power.
This is how all the holdups, airplane hijackings, etc. are now in some sense simulation holdups in that they are already inscribed in the decoding and orchestration rituals of the media, anticipated in their presentation and their possible consequences.
Because in the end, throughout its history it was capital that first fed on the destructuration of every referential, of every human objective, that shattered every ideal distinction between true and false, good and evil,
Whence the characteristic hysteria of our times: that of the production and reproduction of the real.
The Kennedys died because they incarnated something: the political, political substance, whereas the new presidents are nothing but caricatures and fake film - curiously, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, all have this simian mug, the monkeys of power.
Criticism and negativity alone still secrete a phantom of the reality of power. If they become weak for one reason or another, power has no other recourse but to artificially revive and hallucinate them.
The deterioration of all power is irresistibly pursued: it is not so much the "revolutionary forces" that accelerate this process (often it is quite the opposite), it is the system itself that deploys against its own structures this violence that annuls all substance and all finality.
Ford doesn't even have this opportunity anymore: a simulacrum of an already dead power,
the modern political imaginary goes increasingly in the direction of delaying, of concealing for as long as possible, the death of the head of state.
Everything happens as if Mao or Franco had already died several times and had been replaced by his double.
For a long time now a head of state - no matter which one - is nothing but the simulacrum of himself, and only that gives him the power and the quality to govern.
No one would grant the least consent, the least devotion to a real person.
Everything occurs as if each person had, after declaring a strike, "occupied" his place and work station and recommenced production, as is the norm in a "self-managed" occupation, exactly in the same terms as before, all while declaring himself (and in virtually being) permanently on strike.
This is why in the end power is so much in tune with ideological discourses and discourses on ideology, that is they are discourses of truth - always good for countering the mortal blows of simulation, even and especially if they are revolutionary.
the American TV verite experiment attempted on the Loud family in 1971
"more real than nature").
The pleasure of an excess of meaning,
California home, three garages, five children, assured social and professional status, decorative housewife, upper-middle-class standing.
TV verite. A term admirable in its ambiguity, does it refer to the truth of this family or to the truth of TV? In fact, it is TV that is the truth of the Louds, it is TV that is true, it is TV that renders true. Truth that is no longer the reflexive truth of the mirror, nor the perspectival truth of the panoptic system and of the gaze, but the manipulative truth of the test that sounds out and interrogates, of the laser that touches and pierces, of computer cards that retain your preferred sequences, of the genetic code that controls your combinations, of cells that inform your sensory universe. It is to this truth that the Loud family was subjected by the medium of TV, and in this sense it amounts to a death sentence (but is it still a question of truth?).
We are witnessing the end of perspectival and panoptic space
We are no longer in the society of the spectacle, of which the situationists spoke, nor in the specific kinds of alienation and repression that it implied. The medium itself is no longer identifiable as such, and the confusion of the medium and the message (McLuhan)*7 is the first great formula of this new era. There is no longer a medium in the literal sense: it is now intangible, diffused, and diffracted in the real, and one can no longer even say that the medium is altered by it.
But one must watch out for the negative turn that discourse imposes: it is a question neither of disease nor of a viral infection. One must think instead of the media as if they were, in outer orbit, a kind of genetic code that directs the mutation of the real into the hyperreal, just as the other micromolecular code controls the passage from a representative sphere of meaning to the genetic one of the programmed signal.
The same goes for peaceful nuclear power stations. Pacification does not distinguish between the civil and the military: everywhere where irreversible apparatuses of control are elaborated, everywhere where the notion of security becomes omnipotent, everywhere where the norm replaces the old arsenal of laws and violence (including war), it is the system of deterrence that grows, and around it grows the historical, social, and political desert.
The exaltation of the crowds was not a response to the event of Rinding on the moon or of sending a man into space (this would be, rather, the fulfillment of an earlier dream), rather, we are dumbfounded by the perfection of the programming and the technical manipulation, by the immanent wonder of the programmed unfolding of events.
Now, it is the same model of programmatic infallibility, of maximum security and deterrence that today controls the spread of the social. There lies the true nuclear fallout: the meticulous operation of technology serves as a model for the meticulous operation of the social. Here as well, nothing will be left to chance,
All energy, all events are absorbed by this eccentric gravitation, everything condenses and implodes toward the only micromodel of control (the orbital satellite), as conversely, in the other, biological, dimension, everything converges and implodes on the molecular micromodel of the genetic code. Between the two, in this forking of the nuclear and the genetic, in the simultaneous assumption of the two fundamental codes of deterrence, every principle of meaning is absorbed, every deployment of the real is impossible.
The best example can only be that of the war in Vietnam, because it took place at the intersection of a maximum historical and "revolutionary" stake, and of the installation of this deterrent authority. What meaning did this war have, and wasn't its unfolding a means of sealing the end of history in the decisive and culminating historic event of our era? Why did this war, so hard, so long, so ferocious, vanish from one day to the next as if by magic?
Why did this American defeat (the largest reversal in the history of the USA) have no internal repercussions in America? If it had really signified the failure of the planetary strategy of the United States, it would necessarily have completely disrupted its internal balance and the American political system. Nothing of the sort occurred. Something else, then, took place. This war, at bottom, was nothing but a crucial episode of peaceful coexistence. It marked the arrival of China to peaceful coexistence. The nonintervention of China obtained and secured after many years, Chinas apprenticeship to a global modus vivendi, the shift from a global strategy of revolution to one of shared forces and empires,
As soon as the Vietnamese had proved that they were no longer the carriers of an unpredictable subversion, one could let them take over.
behind this simulacrum of fighting to the death and of ruthless global stakes, the two adversaries are fundamentally in solidarity against something else, unnamed, never spoken, but whose objective outcome in war, with the equal complicity of the two adversaries, is total liquidation. Tribal, communitarian, precapitalist structures, every form of exchange, of language, of symbolic organization, that is what must be abolished,
This scenario: the extremely harsh bombardments of Hanoi. Their untenable character must not conceal the fact that they were nothing but a simulacrum to enable the Vietnamese to seem to countenance a compromise and for Nixon to make the Americans swallow the withdrawal of their troops. The game was already won, nothing was objectively at stake but the verisimilitude of the final montage.
The moralists of war, the holders of high wartime values should not be too discouraged: the war is no less atrocious for being only a simulacrum - the flesh suffers just the same, and the dead and former combatants are worth the same as in other wars.
What no longer exists is the adversity of the adversaries, the reality of antagonistic causes, the ideological seriousness of war. And also the reality of victory or defeat, war being a process that triumphs well beyond these appearances.
one can completely miss the truth of a war: namely, that it was finished well before it started, that there was an end to war at the heart of the war itself, and that perhaps it never started
The media and the official news service are only there to maintain the illusion of an actuality, of the reality of the stakes, of the objectivity of facts.
all "newsreel" footage thus gives the sinister impression of kitsch, of retro and porno at the same time - doubtless everyone knows this, and no one really accepts it.
This is why nuclear proliferation does not increase the risk of either an atomic clash or an accident - save in the interval when the "young" powers could be tempted to make a nondeterrent, "real" use of it (as the Americans did in Hiroshima - but precisely only they had a right to this "use value" of the bomb, all of those who have acquired it since will be deterred from using it by the very fact of possessing it).
It is thus perfectly probable that one day we will see nuclear powers export atomic reactors, weapons, and bombs to every latitude. Control by threat will be replaced by the more effective strategy of pacification through the bomb and through the possession of the bomb.
One can no longer imagine what project, what power, what strategy, what subject could exist behind this enclosure, this vast saturation of a system by its own forces, now neutralized, unusable, unintelligible, nonexplosive - except for the possibility of an explosion toward the center, of an implosion where all these energies would be abolished in a catastrophic process (in the literal sense, that is to say in the sense of a reversion of the whole cycle toward a minimal point, of a reversion of energies toward a minimal threshold).
7. The medium/message confusion is certainly a corollary of that between the sender and the receiver,
7. The medium/message confusion is certainly a corollary of that between the sender and the receiver, thus sealing the disappearance of all dual, polar structures that formed the discursive organization of language,
Thus is expressed, by an inverse simulation, the passage from the "analyzed" to the "analysand," from passive to active,
Myth, chased from the real by the violence of history, finds refuge in cinema.
The politics that enter the university are those that come from history, a retro politics, emptied of substance and legalized in their superficial exercise, with the air of a game and a field of adventure
Whereas so many generations, and particularly the last, lived in the march of history, in the euphoric or catastrophic expectation of a revolution - today one has the impression that history has retreated,
It is into this void that the phantasms of a past history recede, the panoply of events, ideologies, retro fashions - no longer so much because people believe in them or still place some hope in them, but simply to resurrect the period when at least there was history,
all previous history is resurrected in bulk - a controlling idea no longer selects, only nostalgia endlessly accumulates: war, fascism, the pageantry of the belle epoque, or the revolutionary struggles, everything is equivalent and is mixed indiscriminately in the same morose and funereal exaltation, in the same retro fascination.
Cool, cold pleasure, not even aesthetic in the strict sense: functional pleasure, equational pleasure, pleasure of machination.
Cinema plagiarizes itself, recopies itself, remakes its classics, retroactivates its original myths, remakes the silent film more perfectly than the original, etc.: all of this is logical, the cinema is fascinated by itself as a lost object as much as it (and we) are fascinated by the real as a lost referent.
the cinema attempting to abolish itself in the cinematographic (or televised) hyperreal.
Photography and cinema contributed in large part to the secularization of history, to fixing it in its visible, "objective" form at the expense of the myths that once traversed it. Today cinema can place all its talent, all its technology in the service of reanimating what it itself contributed to liquidating. It only resurrects ghosts, and it itself is lost therein.
Reichian one of the sexual repression of the masses,
the "irrational" excess of mythic and political referentials, the mad intensification of collective value (blood, race, people, etc.), the reinjection of death, of a "political aesthetic of death" at a time when the process of the disenchantment of value and of collective values,
Fascism's cruelty, its terror is on the level of this other terror that is the confusion of the real and the rational, which deepened in the West, and it is a response to that.
Forgetting extermination is part of extermination, because it is also the extermination of memory, of history, of the social, etc.
(today, everywhere, it is artificial memories that efface the memory of man, that efface man in his own memory).
One no longer makes the Jews pass through the crematorium or the gas chamber, but through the sound track and image track, through the universal screen and the microprocessor.
one would like to have us believe that TV will lift the weight of Auschwitz by making a collective awareness radiate, whereas television is its perpetuation in another guise, this time no longer under the auspices of a site of annihilation, but of a medium of deterrence.
What no one wants to understand is that Holocaust is primarily (and exclusively) an event, or, rather, a televised object (fundamental rule of McLuhan's, which must not be forgotten), that is to say, that one attempts to rekindle a cold historical event, tragic but cold, the first major event of cold systems, of cooling systems, of systems of deterrence and extermination that will then be deployed in other forms (including the cold war, etc.) and in regard to cold masses (the Jews no longer even concerned with their own death, and the eventually self-managed masses no longer even in revolt: deterred until death, deterred from their very own death) to rekindle this cold event through a cold medium, television, and for the masses who are themselves cold, who will only have the opportunity for a tactile thrill and a posthumous emotion, a deterrent thrill as well, which "vill make them spill into forgetting with a kind of good aesthetic conscience of the catastrophe.
Panicked blackmailing around the possible consequence of this broadcast on the imagination of children and others. All the pedagogues and social workers mobilized to filter the thing, as if there were some danger of infection in this artificial resurrection!
thus necessary that the whole world mobilize itself to remake the social, a hot social, heated discussion, hence communication, from the cold monster of extermination.
One lacks stakes, investment, history, speech. That is the fundamental problem. The objective is thus to produce them at all cost,
the cold light of television, why it is harmless to the imagination (including that of children) because it no longer carries any imaginary and this for the simple reason that it is no longer an image. By contrast with the cinema, which is still blessed (but less and less so because more and more contaminated by TV) with an intense imaginary - because the cinema is an image. That is to say not only a screen and a visual form, but a myth, something that still retains something of the double, of the phantasm, of the mirror, of the dream, etc.
you are the screen, and the TV watches you
TV itself is also a nuclear process of chain reaction, but implosive: it cools and neutralizes the meaning and the energy of events.
(Network effect) - the real (Harrisburg), isn't it nothing but the
(Network and China Syndrome)
The homology of the nuclear and of television can be read directly in the images: nothing resembles the control and telecommand headquarters of the nuclear power station more than TV studios,
Because an explosion is always a promise, it is our hope: note how much, in the film as in Harrisburg, the whole world waits for something to blow up, for destruction to announce itself and remove us from this unnameable panic, from this panic of deterrence that it exercises in the invisible form of the nuclear.
it reassures us about the presence of energy, albeit catastrophic, and bestows its spectacle on us.
Parousia of catastrophe: substantial food for our messianic libido.
that is precisely what will never happen. What will happen will never again be the explosion, but the implosion. No more energy in its spectacular and pathetic form - all the romanticism of the explosion, which had so much charm, being at the same time that of revolution - but the cold energy of the simulacrum and of its distillation in homeopathic doses in the cold systems of information.
What else do the media dream of besides creating the event simply by their presence?
The Network effect goes far beyond the Watergate effect and spreads mysteriously into the Harrisburg effect, that is to say not into the nuclear threat, but into the simulation of nuclear catastrophe.
The simulation of nuclear catastrophe is the strategic result of this generic and universal undertaking of deterrence: accustoming the people to the ideology and the discipline of absolute security
In the film, also, real fusion would be a bad argument: the film would regress to the level of a disaster movie - weak by definition, because it means returning things to their pure event.
The equilibrium of terror rests on the eternal deferral of the atomic clash.
the power of catastrophe must, instead of stupidly exploding, be disseminated in homeopathic, molecular doses, in the continuous reservoirs of information.
if every strategy today is that of mental terror and of deterrence tied to the suspension and the eternal simulation of catastrophe, then the only means of mitigating this scenario would be to make the catastrophe arrive, to produce or to reproduce a real catastrophe. To which Nature is at times given: in its inspired moments, it is God who through his cataclysms unknots the equilibrium of terror in which humans are imprisoned.
Vietnam "in itself" perhaps in fact never happened, it is a dream, a baroque dream of napalm and of the tropics, a psychotropic dream that had the goal neither of a victory nor of a policy at stake, but, rather, the sacrificial, excessive deployment of a power
No real distance, no critical sense, no desire for "raising consciousness" in relation to the war: and in a sense this is the brutal quality of this film
the war in Vietnam and this film are cut from the same cloth, that nothing separates them, that this film is part of the war - if the Americans (seemingly) lost the other one, they certainly won this one.
fundamentally a model of deterrence (it is the same one that controls us globally, under the sign of peaceful coexistence and of the simulation of atomic danger).
Same contradiction even in the behavior of the personnel, assigned to the "polyvalent" space and without a private work space. On their feet and mobile, the people affect a cool demeanor, more supple, very contemporary, adapted to the "structure" of a "modern" space. Seated in their corner, which is precisely not one, they exhaust themselves secreting an artificial solitude, remaking their "bubble." Therein is also a great tactic of deterrence: one condemns them to using all their energy in this individual defense.
This space of deterrence, articulated on the ideology of visibility, of transparency, of polyvalency, of consensus and contact, and sanctioned by the blackmail to security, is today, virtually, that of all social relations.
It is nice to think that the idea did not come to some revolutionary spirit, but to the logicians of the established order, deprived of all critical intelligence, and thus closer to the truth, capable, in their obstinacy, of putting in place a machine that is fundamentally uncontrollable, that in its very success escapes them
the very ideology of "cultural production" is antithetical to all culture,
"What should have been placed in Beaubourg?"
There lies our truth, the truth of Mobius-doubtless an unrealizable Utopia,
a labyrinth, a combinatory, infinite library, an aleatory redistribution of destinies through games or lotteries - in short, the universe of Borges - or even the circular Ruins:
An experimentation with all the different processes of representation:
One invites the masses to participate, to simulate, to play with the models - they go one better: they participate and manipulate so well that they efface all the meaning one wants to give to the operation and put the very infrastructure of the edifice in danger.
incessant circulation of choices, readings, references, marks, decoding.
hyperreality of the commodity
that throughout the "civilized" world the construction of stockpiles of objects has brought with it the complementary process of stockpiles of people
But if the supply of objects brings along with it the stockpiling of men, the latent violence in the supply of objects brings with it the inverse violence of men.
Every stock is violent, and there is a specific violence in any mass of men also,
Critical mass, implosive mass. Beyond thirty thousand it poses the risk of "bending" the structure of Beaubourg. If the masses magnetized by the structure become a destructive variable of the structure itself - if those who conceived of the project wanted this (but how to hope for this?), if they thus programmed the chance of putting an end with one blow to both architecture and culture - then Beaubourg constitutes the most audacious object and the most successful happening of the century!
Make Beaubourg bend! New motto of a revolutionary order.
Do it! It is the best way of destroying it.
they throw themselves on this building, whose fragility already breathes catastrophe, with the single goal of making it bend.
The onslaught is the only act the masses can produce as such
People have the desire to take everything, to pillage everything, to swallow everything, to manipulate everything.
The only massive affect is that of manipulation.
people are directly implicated in a process: to manipulate/to be manipulated, to ventilate/to be ventilated, to circulate/to make circulate,
Panic in slow motion, no external variable. It is the violence internal to a saturated ensemble. Implosion.
Subversion, violent destruction is what corresponds to a mode of production. To a universe of networks,
Power implodes, this is its current mode of disappearance.
infinitesimal memory, which forgets nothing, and which belongs to no one.
This violence is dialectical, energetic, cathartic. It is the one we have learned to analyze and that is familiar to us:
A violence that follows an inordinate densifkation of the social, the state of an overregulated system, a network (of knowledge, information, power) that is overencumbered, and of a hypertrophic control
all the philosophies of the release of energy, of the irradiation of intensities and of the molecularization of desire go in the same direction, that of a saturation as far as the interstitial and the infinity of networks.
events of 1968 were still able to come from that revolutionary dynamic and explosive violence, but something else began at the same time there: the violent involution of the social, determined on that score, and the consecutive and sudden implosion of power,
revolution itself, the idea of revolution also implodes, and this implosion carries weightier consequences than the revolution itself.
The objects are no longer commodities: they are no longer even signs whose meaning and message one could decipher and appropriate for oneself, they are tests, they are the ones that interrogate us, and we are summoned to answer them,
The self-service also adds to this absence of depth: the same homogeneous space, without mediation, brings together men and things
direct manipulation. But who manipulates whom?
These billboards, in fact, observe and surveil you as well, or as badly, as the "policing" television. The latter looks at you, you look at yourself in it, mixed with the others, it is the mirror without silvering (tain) in the activity of consumption, a game of splitting in two
A model of directed anticipation, the hypermarket (especially in the United States) preexists the metropolitan area; it is what gives rise to metro areas, whereas the traditional market was in the heart of a city, a place where the city and the country came to rub elbows. The hypermarket is the expression of a whole lifestyle in which not only the country but the town as well have disappeared to make room for "the metro area" - a completely delimited functional urban zoning, of which the hypermarket is the equivalent, the micromodel, on the level of consumption. But the role of the hypermarket goes far beyond "consumption," and the objects no longer have a specific reality there: what is primary is their serial, circular, spectacular arrangement - the future model of social relations.
Strange new objects of which the nuclear power station is without a doubt the absolute model and from which radiates a kind of neutralization of the territory,
These new objects are the poles of simulation around which is elaborated, in contrast to old train stations, factories, or traditional transportation networks, something other than a "modernity": a hyperreality, a simultaneity of all the functions, without a past, without a future, an operationality on every level.
We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.
meaning is lost and devoured faster than it can be reinjected.
Information is thought to create communication, and even if the waste is enormous, a general consensus would have it that nevertheless, as a whole, there be an excess of meaning, which is redistributed in all the interstices of the social - just as consensus would have it that material production, despite its dysfunctions and irrationalities, opens onto an excess of wealth and social purpose. We are all complicitous in this myth.
where we think that information produces meaning, the opposite occurs.
One both believes and doesn't.
To this tautology of the system the masses respond with ambivalence,
Myth exists, but one must guard against thinking that people believe in it: this is the trap of critical thinking that can only be exercised if it presupposes the naivete and stupidity of the masses.
information dissolves meaning and dissolves the social, in a sort of nebulous state dedicated not to a surplus of innovation, but, on the contrary, to total entropy.*1
the media are producers not of socialization, but of exactly the opposite, of the implosion of the social in the masses.
all contents of meaning are absorbed in the only dominant form of the medium.
Only the medium can make an event - whatever the contents, whether they are conformist or subversive. A serious problem for all counterinformation, pirate radios, antimedia, etc.
after all the contents and messages have been volatilized in the medium, it is the medium itself that is volatilized as such.
Fundamentally, it is still the message that lends credibility to the medium, that gives the medium its determined, distinct status as the intermediary of communication. Without a message, the medium also falls into the indefinite state
There are no more media in the literal sense of the word (I'm speaking particularly of electronic mass media) - that is, of a mediating power between one reality and another, between one state of the real and another.
The absorption of one pole into another, the short-circuiting between poles of every differential system of meaning, the erasure of distinct terms and oppositions, including that of the medium and of the real - thus the impossibility of any mediation, of any dialectical intervention between the two or from one to the other.
The fact of this implosion of contents, of the absorption of meaning, of the evanescence of the medium itself, of the reabsorption of every dialectic of communication in a total circularity of the model, of the implosion of the social in the masses, may seem catastrophic and desperate. But this is only the case in light of the idealism that dominates our whole view of information. We all live by a passionate idealism of meaning and of communication, by an idealism of communication through meaning, and, from this perspective, it is truly the catastrophe of meaning that lies in wait for us.
But one must realize that "catastrophe" has this "catastrophic" meaning of end and annihilation only in relation to a linear vision of accumulation, of productive finality, imposed on us by the system.
Etymologically, the term itself only signifies the curvature, the winding down to the bottom of a cycle that leads to what one could call the "horizon of the event," to an impassable horizon of meaning: beyond that nothing takes place that has meaning for us - but it suffices to get out of this ultimatum of meaning in order for the catastrophe itself to no longer seem like a final and nihilistic day of reckoning, such as it functions in our contemporary imaginary.
do the media neutralize meaning and produce unformed [informe] or informed [informée] masses, or is it the masses who victoriously resist the media by directing or absorbing all the messages that the media produce without responding to them?
INFORMATION = ENTROPY.
Today what we are experiencing is the absorption of all virtual modes of expression into that of advertising.
All original cultural forms, all determined languages are absorbed in advertising because it has no depth, it is instantaneous and instantaneously forgotten.
what is inherent to "weighty" enunciations, to articulated forms of meaning (or of style) is that they cannot be translated into each other, any more than the rules of a game can be.
A subsequent stage is crossed once the very language of the social, after that of the political, becomes confused with this fascinating solicitation of an agitated language, once the social turns itself into advertising,
Philip K. Dick's papula - that transistorized advertising implant, a sort of broadcasting leech, an electronic parasite that attaches itself to the body and that is very hard to get rid of.
It is not by chance that advertising, after having, for a long time, carried an implicit ultimatum of an economic kind, fundamentally saying and repeating incessantly, "I buy, I consume, I take pleasure," today repeats in other forms, "I vote, I participate, I am present, I am concerned" - mirror of a paradoxical mockery, mirror of the indifference of all public signification.
one becomes transparent or uncountable, one becomes diaphanous or rhizomic to escape the point of inertia - one is placed in orbit, one is plugged in, one is satellized, one is archived - paths cross: there is the sound track, the image track, just as in life there is the work track, the leisure track, the transport track, etc., all enveloped in the advertising track. Everywhere there are three or four paths, and you are at the crossroads. Superficial saturation and fascination.
stupefied, hyperreal euphoria
the shadow, the mirror image, haunts the subject like his other, which makes it so that the subject is simultaneously itself and never resembles itself again, which haunts the subject like a subtle and always averted death. This is not always the case, however: when the double materializes, when it becomes visible, it signifies imminent death.
Everyone can dream, and must have dreamed his whole life, of a perfect duplication or multiplication of his being, but such copies only have the power of dreams, and are destroyed when one attempts to force the dream into the real. The same is true of the (primal) scene of seduction: it only functions when it is phantasmed, reremembered, never real. It belonged to our era to wish to exorcise this phantasm like the others, that is to say to want to realize, materialize it in flesh and bone and, in a completely contrary way, to change the game of the double from a subtle exchange of death with the Other into the eternity of the Same.
cloning radically abolishe's the Mother, but also the Father,
of each of these vegetal branchings that in effect resolve all oedipal sexuality in the service of "nonhuman" sex, of sex
No more mother, no more father: a matrix. And it is the matrix, that of the genetic code, that now infinitely "gives birth" based on a functional mode purged of all aleatory sexuality.
The subject is also gone, since identical duplication puts an end to his division. The mirror stage is abolished in cloning, or rather it is parodied therein in a monstruous fashion. Cloning also retains nothing, and for the same reason, of the immemorial and narcissistic dream of the subject's projection into his ideal alter ego, since this projection still passes through an image: the one in the mirror, in which the subject is alienated in order to find himself again, or the one, seductive and mortal, in which the subject sees himself in order to die there. None of this occurs in cloning. No more medium, no more image - any more than an industrial object is the mirror of the identical one that succeeds it in the series. One is never the ideal or mortal mirage of the other, they can only be added to each other, and if they can only be added, it means that they are not sexually engendered and know nothing of death.
Delirious apotheosis of a productive technology.
This is how one puts an end to totality. If all information can be found in each of its parts, the whole loses its meaning.
cloning will fabricate sexed beings in perpetuity, since they are similar to their model, whereas thereby sex becomes useless - but precisely sex is not a function, it is what makes a body a body, it is what exceeds all the parts, all the diverse functions of this body).
Sex (or death: in this sense it is the same thing) is what exceeds all information that can be collected on a body. Well, where is all this information collected? In the genetic formula. This is why it must necessarily want to forge a path of autonomous reproduction, independent of sexuality and of death.
Already, biophysioanatomical science, by dissecting the body into organs and functions, begins the process of the analytic decomposition of the body, and micromolecular genetics is nothing but the logical consequence, though at a much higher level of abstraction and simulation - at the nuclear level of the command cell, at the direct level of the genetic code, around which this whole phantasmagoria is organized.
If the prosthesis is commonly an artifact that supplements a failing organ, or the instrumental extension of a body, then the DN A molecule, which contains all information relative to a body, is the prosthesis par excellence, the one that will allow for the indefinite extension of this body by the body itself - this body itself being nothing but the indefinite series of its prostheses.
Cloning is thus the last stage of the history and modeling of the body, the one at which, reduced to its abstract and genetic formula, the individual is destined to serial propagation.
What is lost in the work that is serially reproduced, is its aura, its singular quality of the here and now, its aesthetic form (it had already lost its ritual form, in its aesthetic quality), and, according to Benjamin, it takes on, in its ineluctable destiny of reproduction, a political form.
This is what happens to us with cloning, no longer only at the level of messages, but at the level of individuals. In fact this is what happens to the body when it ceases to be conceived as anything but a message, as a stockpile of information and of messages, as fodder for data processing.
Thus nothing is opposed to the body being serially reproduced in the same way Benjamin describes the reproduction of industrial objects and the images of the mass media. There is a precession of reproduction over production, a precession of the genetic model over all possible bodies.
The stage of the body changes in the course of an irreversible technological "progression": from tanning in the sun, which already corresponds to an artificial use of the natural medium, that is to say to making it a prosthesis of the body (itself becoming a simulated body, but where lies the truth of the body?) - to domestic tanning with an iodine lamp (yet another good old mechanical technique) - to tanning with pills and hormones (chemical and ingested prosthesis) - and finally to tanning by intervening in the genetic formula (an incomparably more advanced stage,
The hologram, the one of which we have always already dreamed (but these are only poor bricolages of it) gives us the feeling, the vertigo of passing to the other side of our own body, to the side of the double, luminous clone, or dead twin that is never born in our place, and watches over us by anticipation.
Each of the spectators at the accident site would carry away an image of the violent transformation of this woman, of the complex of 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 grooves of erectile tissue, to the wounds of this minor actresss 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, lay his own nasal septum against the lesions of her left hand, press his eyelids against the exposed tendon of her forefinger, the dorsal surface of his erect penis against the ruptured lateral walls of her vagina. The automobile crash had made possible the final and longed-for union of the actress and the members of her audience. (Pp. 189-90)
It is the Accident that gives form to life, it is the Accident, the insane, that is the sex of life.
Kafka's machine, is still puritan, repressive, "a signifying machine" Deleuze would say, whereas the technology in Crash is shining, seductive, or dull and innocent.
The photo is no more of a medium than technology or the body - all are simultaneous in a universe where the anticipation of the event coincides with its reproduction, indeed with its "real" production. No more temporal depth either - just like the past, the future ceases to exist in turn. In fact, it is the eye of the camera that is substituted for time,
In Crash, everything is hyperfunctional, since traffic and accident, technology and death, sex and simulation are like a single, large synchronous machine.
It is a radical functionalism that reaches its paradoxical limits and burns them.
"a path leading nowhere, but leading there faster than the others."
"warning against that brutal, erotic, and overlit realm that beckons more and more persuasively to us from the margins of the technological landscape"*
* NOTES * 1. J. G. Ballard, Crash (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973).
the cybernetic game
fiction will never again be a mirror held toward the future, but a desperate rehallucination of the past.
- a universal market, not only of merchandise, but of values, signs, models, leaving no room for the imaginary
This is also true of geographic and spatial exploration: when there is no longer any virgin territory, and thus one available to the imaginary, when the map covers the whole territory, something like the principle of reality disappears.
The process will, rather, be the opposite: it will be to put decentered situations, models of simulation in place and to contrive to give them the feeling of the real, of the banal, of lived experience, to reinvent the real as fiction, precisely because it has disappeared from our life.
science fiction would no longer be a romantic expansion with all the freedom and naivete that the charm of discovery gave it, but, quite the contrary, it would evolve implosively in the very image of our current conception of the universe, attempting to revitalize, reactualize,
What is fascinating here is not the opposition between real factories and fake factories, but on the contrary the lack of distinction between the two,
the most difficult thing today, in the complex universe of science fiction, is to unravel what still complies (and a large part still does) with the imaginary of the second order, of the productive/projective order, and what already comes from this vagueness of the imaginary,
One discovers that the prisoner needs liberty, sexuality, "normalcy" to withstand prison, just as industrially bred animals need a certain "quality of life" to die within the norm.
Everyone needs a psychic life to adapt.
The whole discovery of the psychological, whose complexity can extend ad infinitum, comes from nothing but the impossibility of exploiting to death (the workers), of incarcerating to death (the detained), of fattening to death (the animals), according to the strict law of equivalences: so much caloric energy and time = so much work power such an infraction = such an equivalent punishment so much food = optimal weight and industrial death. Everything is blocked, so psychic life, the mental, neurosis, the psychosocial, etc. are born, not at all in order to break this delirious equation, but to restore the principle of mutually agreed upon equivalences.
Sentimentality is nothing but the infinitely degraded form of bestiality,
all humanity has gone over to the side of captive bestiality,
The challenge of madness has historically been met by the hypothesis of the unconscious. The Unconscious is this logistical mechanism that permits us to think madness (and more generally all strange and anomalous formations) in a system of meaning opened to nonmeaning,
They, the animals, do not speak. In a universe of increasing speech, of the constraint to confess and to speak, only they remain mute, and for this reason they seem to retreat far from us, behind the horizon of truth.
In a world bent on doing nothing but making one speak, in a world assembled under the hegemony of signs and discourse, their silence weighs more and more heavily on our organization of meaning.
(paradoxical: to take the animal as a model of deterritorialization when he is the territorial being par excellence).
if formerly the privilege of Man was founded on the monopoly of consciousness, today it is founded on the monopoly of the unconscious.
Animals have no unconscious, because they have a territory. Men have only had an unconscious since they lost a territory.
To this day, thirty-five prisoners have escaped, but for the most part they have returned of their own accord.
A whole liberatory phantasmagoria is drawn in opposition to the constraints of modern society, a representation of nature and of beasts as savagery, as the freedom to "fulfill all needs," today "of realizing all his desires" - because modern Rousseauism has taken the form of the indeterminacy of drive, of the wandering of desire and of the nomadism of infinitude - but it is the same mystique of unleashed, noncoded forces with no finality other than their own eruption.
the normal is not the crazy of the crazy,
Sex and death are the great themes recognized for unleashing ambivalence and laughter.
It is not when one has taken everything away that nothing is left, rather, nothing is left when things are unceasingly shifted and addition itself no longer has any meaning.
Death is residual if it is not resolved in mourning, in the collective celebration of mourning.
All of the real is residual, and everything that is residual is destined to repeat itself indefinitely in phantasms.
The university is in ruins: nonfunctional in the social arenas of the market and employment, lacking cultural substance or an end purpose of knowledge.
Power (or what takes its place) no longer believes in the university. It knows fundamentally that it is only a zone for the shelter and surveillance of a whole class of a certain age, it therefore has only to select - it will find its elite elsewhere, or by other means.
Diplomas are worthless: why would it refuse to award them, in any case it is ready to award them to everybody;
By rotting, the university can still do a lot of damage (rotting is a symbolic mechanism - not political but symbolic, therefore subversive for us). But for this to be the case it is necessary to start with this very rotting, and not to dream of resurrection.
It is necessary to transform this rotting into a violent process, into violent death, through mockery and defiance, through a multiplied simulation that would offer the ritual of the death of the university as a model of decomposition to the whole of society, a contagious model of the disaffection of a whole social structure,
That is what the events of May 1968 produced. At a less advanced point in the process of the liquefaction of the university and of culture, the students, far from wishing to save the furniture (revive the lost object, in an ideal mode), retorted by confronting power with the challenge of the total, immediate death of the institution, the challenge of a deterritorialization even more intense than the one that came from the system,
a transformation into immediate sacrifice, which was only the long-term operation of the system itself: the liquidation of culture and of knowledge.
All around us there are nothing but dummies of power, but the mechanical illusion of power still rules the social order, behind which grows the absent, illegible, terror of control,
Through I don't know what Mobius effect, representation itself has also turned in on itself, and the whole logical universe of the political is dissolved at the same time, ceding its place to a transfinite universe of simulation, where from the beginning no one is represented nor representative of anything any more,
We are simulators, we are simulacra (not in the classical sense of "appearance"), we are concave mirrors radiated by the social, a radiation without a light source, power without origin, without distance, and it is in this tactical universe of the simulacrum that one will need to fight - without hope, hope is a weak value, but in defiance and fascination. Because one must not refuse the intense fascination that emanates from this liquefaction of all power, of all axes of value, of all axiology, politics included.
The challenge capital directs at us in its delirium - liquidating without shame the law of profit, surplus value, productive finalities, structures of power, and finding at the end of its process the profound immorality (but also the seduction) of primitive rituals of destruction, this very challenge must be raised to an insanely higher level. Capital, like value, is irresponsible, irreversible, ineluctable.
just as the phantom of knowledge floats over the university. It is up to us to again become the nomads of this desert, but disengaged from the mechanical illusion of value.
We will live in this world, which for us has all the disquieting strangeness of the desert and of the simulacrum, with all the veracity of living phantoms, of wandering and simulating animals that capital, that the death of capital has made of us
- because the desert of cities is equal to the desert of sand - the jungle of signs is equal to that of the forests - the vertigo of simulacra is equal to that of nature - only the vertiginous seduction of a dying system remains, in which work buries work, in which value buries value - leaving a virgin, sacred space without pathways,
where only the wind lifts the sand, where only the wind watches over the sand.
Challenge or imaginary science, only a pataphysics of simulacra can can remove us from the system's strategy of simulation and the impasse of death in which it imprisons us.
Where nothing is in its place, lies disorder
Where nothing is in its place, lies disorder Where in the desired place there is nothing, lies order -Brecht
Panic on the part of university administrators at the idea that diplomas will be awarded without a "real"-work counterpart, without an equivalence in knowledge. This panic is not that of political subversion, it is that of seeing value become dissociated from its contents and begin to function alone, according to its very form. The values of the university (diplomas, etc.) will proliferate and continue to circulate, a bit like floating capital or Eurodollars, they will spiral without referential criteria, completely devalorized in the end, but that is unimportant: their circulation alone is enough to create a social horizon of value, and the ghostly presence of the phantom value will only be greater, even when its reference point (its use value, its exchange value, the academic "work force" that the university recoops) is lost. Terror of value without equivalence.
I observe, I accept, I assume, I analyze the second revolution, that of the twentieth century, that of postmodernity, which is the immense process of the destruction of meaning, equal to the earlier destruction of appearances.
One must be conscious that, no matter how the analysis proceeds, it proceeds toward the freezing over of meaning, it assists in the precession of simulacra and of indifferent forms. The desert grows.
The masses themselves are caught up in a gigantic process of inertia through acceleration. They are this excrescent, devouring, process that annihilates all growth and all surplus meaning.
melancholia is the fundamental tonality of functional systems, of current systems of simulation, of programming and information.
The more hegemonic the system, the more the imagination is struck by the smallest of its reversals. The challenge, even infinitesimal, is the image of a chain failure.
Only this reversibility without a counterpart is an event today, on the nihilistic and disaffected stage of the political. Only it mobilizes the imaginary.
The system is itself also nihilistic, in the sense that it has the power to pour everything, including what denies it, into indifference.
do Chile, Biafra, the boat people, Bologna, or Poland
We are in the era of events without consequences (and of theories without consequences).
But that on which it has imposed its ephemeral reign, what it hoped to liquidate in order to impose the reign of the Enlightenment, that is, appearances, they, are immortal, invulnerable to the nihilism of meaning or of non-meaning itself. This is where seduction begins.
There are cultures that have no imaginary except of their origin and have no imaginary of their end. There are those that are obsessed by both... Two other types of figures are possible... Having no imaginary except of the end (our culture, nihilistic). No longer having any imaginary, neither of the origin nor of the end (that which is coming, aleatory).