Notes for Jean Baudrillard Simulacra and Simulation
Key concepts: clone, deterrence, esotechnical, exotechnical, hyperreal, immanence of detail, melancholy of hegemony, nihilism of transparency, nuclear, ontology of things, panopticon, precession of simulacra, simulation, subject, terrorism.
Articulates key postmodern themes of simulation, precession of simulacra, hyperreal. Panopticon notion of subjectivity replaced by reality television. Law replaced by immanence of detail, like Foucault's docility; therefore, deterrence of chance. The subject is replaced by code, network cloning activity, system-model-based (precessural) sprouting rather than situated begetting, connecting to Kittler resignation to transfer of control from humans to machine high commands through media convergence. Nihilism of transparency creates challenge to search for saving power in the danger of computer technology. Terrorism only response to hegemonic system before free, open source practices. Leaves opening in seduction of appearances, whereas I suggest the free, open source option jumping into the danger by doing humanities work through programming.
Related theorists: Benjamin, Foucault, Kittler, McLuhan.
THE PRECESSION OF SIMULACRA
See Symbolic Exchange and Death for original articulation of simulacra.
(1) this fable has now come full circle for us, and possesses nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra.
Simulation generates hyperreal models, and precession of simulacra engenders history.
(1) Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality; a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory – precession of simulacra – that engenders the territory.
Overcome the cynical pessimistic outcome of early postmodern reasoning as well as address the ambivalence toward computer technology of Heidegger by positing possibilities of remediation into unimaginable virtual realities like the ensoniment of Plato Symposium as example of saving power in the danger because it generates a hyperreal auditory field by computing base material deeply rooted in and constitutive of our intellectual history: do a new take on the image so dear to Derrida of Plato instructing a Socrates who writes, new myths branch from the revelation by Alcibiades to a writing Socrates of alternate accounts of the historical Socrates in ways also suggested by Aristophanes and Diogenes Laertius, like Socrates as a great pirate publisher who would be a master hacker today.
If one envisions the entire cycle of any act or event in a system
where linear continuity and dialectical polarity no longer exist, in
a field unhinged
all determination evaporates, every act is terminated at the end of
the cycle having benefited everyone and having been scattered in all
(16) Simulation is characterized by a precession of the model, of all the models based on the merest fact – the models come first, their circulation, orbital like that of the bomb, constitutes the genuine magnetic field of the event.
The Strategy of the Real
(22) Hyperreality and simulation are deterrents of every principle and every objective, they turn against power the deterrent that it used so well for such a long time.
(23) What every society looks for in continuing to produce, and to overproduce, is to restore the real that escapes it. That is why today this “material” production is that of the hyperreal itself.
The End of the Panopticon
Loud family experiment anticipates reality TV and Truman Show.
(27) It is still to this ideology of lived experience – exhumation of the real in its fundamental banality, in its radical authenticity – that the American TV verite experiment attempted on the Loud family in 1971 refers: seven months of uninterrupted shooting, three hundred hours of nonstop broadcasting, without a script or a screenplay, the odyssey of a family, its dramas, its joys, its unexpected events, nonstop – in short, a “raw” historical document, and the “greatest television performance, comparable, on the scale of our day-to-day life, to the footage of our landing on the moon.”
(28) More interesting is the illusion of filming the Louds as if TV weren't there. . . . Pleasure in the microscopic simulation that allows the real to pass into the hyperreal.
No more subject because you are always already on the other side.
An about-face through which it becomes impossible to locate one
instance of the model, of power, of the gaze, of the medium itself,
always already on the other side. No more subject, no more focal
point, no more center or periphery: pure flexion or circular
(30) The medium itself is no longer identifiable as such, and the confusion of the medium and the message (McLuhan) is the first great formula of this new era.
(30) (endnote 7) That discourse “circulates” is to be taken literally: that is, it no longer goes from one point to another, but it traverses a cycle that without distinction includes the positions of transmitter and receiver, now unlocatable as such.
Simulation defined: no separation, implosion, indifferentiation of active and passive.
“Order, signal, impulse, message”: all of these attempt to render
the thing intelligible to us, but by analogy, retranscribing in terms
of inscription, of a vector, of decoding, a dimension of which we
know nothing – it is no longer even a “dimension,” or perhaps
it is the fourth (which is defined, however, in Einsteinian
relativity by the absorption of the distinct poles of space and
time). In fact, this whole process can only be understood in its
negative form: nothing separates one pole from another anymore, the
beginning from the end; there is a kind of contraction of one over
the other, a fantastic telescoping, a collapse of the two traditional
poles into each other: implosion-
an absorption of the radiating mode of causality, of the differential
mode of determination, with its positive and negative charge – an
implosion of meaning. That
is where simulation begins.
(31) one enters into simulation, and thus into absolute manipulation – not into passivity, but into the indifferentiation of the active and the passive.
Orbital and the Nuclear
(32) The apotheosis of simulation: the nuclear.
(32) The whole originality of the situation lies in the improbability of destruction.
(33) 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.
Immanence is the type of law of the built environment; neglects awareness of messiness of software (Kittler, Chun).
(34) The “space race” played exactly the same role as nuclear escalation. . . . Programmed microcosm, where nothing can be left to chance. Trajectory, energy, calculation, physiology, psychology, environment – nothing can be left to contingencies, this is the total universe of the norm – the Law no longer exists, it is the operational immanence of every detail that is law. . . . One no longer fantasizes about the minutiae of a program. Just watching it produces vertigo. The vertigo of a world without flaws.
Docility through socialization, implosive instead of explosive, deterrence of chance.
(34-35) 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, moreover
this is the essence of socialization, which began centuries ago, but
which has now entered its accelerated phase, toward a limit that one
believed would be explosive (revolution), but which for the moment is
translated by an inverse, implosive, irreversible process: the
generalized deterrence of chance . . . doomed to the
descriptive transparency of mechanisms of information.
(35) The simultaneity of two events in the month of July 1975 illustrated this in a striking manner: the linkup in space of the two American and Soviet supersatellites, apotheosis of peaceful coexistence – the suppression by the Chinese of ideogrammatic writing and conversion to the Roman alphabet. . . . The satellization of language: the means for the Chinese to enter the system of peaceful coexistence, which is inscribe in their heavens at precisely the same time by the linkup of the two satellites.
(37) Tribal, communitarian, precapitalist structures, every form of exchange, of language, of symbolic organization, that is what must be abolished, that is the object of murder in war.
(39) Responsibility, control, censure, self-deterrence always grow more rapidly than the forces or the weapons at our disposal: this is the secret of the social order.
(40) The nuclear is at once the culminating point of available energy and the maximization of energy control systems.
(95) Of all the prostheses that mark the history of the body, the double is doubtless the oldest.
Joint act of procreation of cloner and clone in service of code matrix. Will use double to articulate transhuman future subjectivity. Recall critique by another writer. This discussion of begetting versus sprouting pertains to the writing media and technology milieux in which it happens; what of, in addition to human thought networks, virtual milieux? Recent discussion about thinking and symbol processing that is also at play here as Baudrillard abuses cyborg potential in his criticism of the presumably decontextualized cloning process. View this as same antagonism Suchman foregrounds in Plans and Situated Actions. Has Baudrillard succumbed to the conclusion Kittler describes as software submerging into its own thoughts?
(96) Whereas cloning radically abolishes the Mother, but also the Father, the intertwining of their genes, the imbrication of their differences, but above all the joint act that is procreation. The cloner does not beget himself: he sprouts from each of his segments. . . . The Father an the Mother have disappeared, not in the service of an aleatory liberty of the subject, but in the service of a matrix called code.
Benjamin loss of aura through mechanized reproduction same effect of conversion of thinking human subject to thinking machine, like phenomenon Kittler resignedly concludes is at the heart of media convergence; the precession of the model is the formant algorithms overdetermining the range of possible phenomena.
(97) No more medium, no more
image—any more than an industrial object is the mirror the
identical one that succeeds it in the series.
(97) 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.
(98) It is the genetic formula inscribed in each cell that becomes the veritable modern prostheses of all bodies.
(99) It is necessary to revisit what Walter Benjamin said of the work of art in the age of its mechanical reproducibility.
Exotechnical esotechnical division acknowledges consummation of Nietzschean metaphysics, default mode of real virtuality production, an assault on subjectivity is built into media with which our identities coconstitute as an embodied consciousness such that media are no longer soul equipment but the locus of (in)authentic being; Baudrillard elaborates on psychotropic agents and drugs, unable to envision the Internet enabled cyborg of Castell network society that works on the perspectival space of representation in ways impossible for traditional drugs, recalling Phaedrus (or was it Alcibiades) who wished he could become wise merely by rubbing Socrates belly.
(99-100) This is what happens to us
with cloning, no longer only at the level of messages, but at the
level of individuals. . . . There is a precession of reproduction
over production, a precession of the genetic model over all
possible bodies. . . . The
prostheses of the industrial age are still external, exotechnical,
those that we know have been subdivided and internalized:
We are in the age of soft technologies—genetic and mental
(100) The individual is no longer anything but a cancerous metastatis of its base formula.
(101) But what should be said of mental modeling via psychotropic agents and drugs? It is the stage of the body that is changed by them. The psychotropic body is a body modeled “form the inside,” no longer passing through the perspectival space of representation, of the mirror, and of discourse.
From system to units, operation of things, nihilism of transparency drives this change of views, to avoid pessimism and cynicism resulting from nihilism of realization of lack of mooring of transparent epistemology implicit in simulation based realities, that is, reality as media, virtual reality: the system generates default philosophies of computing though agency of irresolution of systems, for how else are we to emerge from descension into postmodern ideas invoked by Baudrillard here in this passage; let it be ontological finesse working code connecting Aarseth, Barthes, Berry, Bogost, Burks, Goldstine, von Neumann, Castells, Chun, Clark, Deleuze, Guattari, Derrida, Feenberg, Hayles, Heidegger, Iser, Janz, Neel, Ogorman, Ong, Ramsay, Stallman, Tanaka-Ishii, Turkle, Ulmer.
nihilism is one of transparency, and it is in some sense more
radical, more crucial that in its prior and historical forms, because
this transparency, this irresolution is indissolubly that of the
system, and that of all the theory that still pretends to analyze
it. When God died, there was Nietzsche to say so.
(159) From the active, violent phantasm, from the phantasm of the myth and the stage that it also was, historically, it has passed into the transparent, falsely transparent, operation of things.
(159) Romanticism is its first great manifestation: it, along with the Enlightenment's Revolution, corresponds to the destruction of the order of appearances.
(159-160) Surrealism, data, the absurd, and political nihilism are the second great manifestation, which corresponds to the destruction of the order of meaning.
(160) The first is still an aesthetic form of nihilism (dandyism), the second, a political, historical, and metaphysical form (terrorism).
(160) The nihilism of transparency is no longer either aesthetic or political, no longer borrows from either the extermination of appearances, nor from extinguishing the embers of meaning, nor from the last nuances of an apocalypse. . . . Melancholic and fascinated, such is our general situation in an era of involuntary transparency.
Theories float in uncertain stage of analysis assisting precession of simulacra growing the desert.
(161) The stage of
analysis itself has become uncertain, aleatory: theories
(161) 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.
Ontology of things emits melacholia of hegemony.
(162) The trace of
this radicality of the mode of disappearance is already found in
Adorno and Benjamin, parallel to a nostalgic exercise of the
dialectic. . . . But more deeply, there is in Benjamin and Adorno
another tonality, that of a melancholy attached to the system itself,
one that is incurable and beyond any dialectic. . . . It is this
melancholia that is becoming our fundamental passion.
(163) Everywhere, always, the system is too strong: hegemonic.
(163) Against this hegemony of the system, one can exalt the ruses of desire, practice revolutionary micrology of the quotidian, exalt the molecular drift or even defend cooking. This does not resolve the imperious necessity of checking the system in broad daylight.
Terrorism only response to overpowering hegemonic system in which only revolutionary ruses are raised, defense of cooking; are free, open source practices any better?
(163) This, only terrorism can do.
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(163) The more hegemonic the system, the more the imagination is struck by the smallest of its reversals.
(163) Theoretical violence, not truth, is the only resource left us.
Victory of the systemic nihilism, the third type after aesthetic and metaphysical forms.
(164) Death no longer has a stage, neither phantasmatic nor political, on which to represent itself, to play itself out, either a ceremonial or a violent one. And this is the victory of the other nihilism, of the other terrorism, that of the system.
Leaves opening in seduction of appearances on the television screen, transferred to the computer interface by Turkle, whereas I suggest the free, open source option jumping into the danger by doing humanities work through programming.
(164) All of that comes to be annihilated on the television screen.
Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra And Simulation. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1994. Print.