Simulations, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Simulations never existed as a book before it was "translated" into English.

Actually it came from two different bookCovers written at different times by Jean Baudrillard.

The first part of Simulations, and most provocative because it made a fiction of theory, was "The Procession of Simulacra." It had first been published in Simulacre et Simulations (1981).

The second part, written much earlier and in a more academic mode, came from L'Echange Symbolique et la Mort (1977).

It was a half-earnest, half-parodical attempt to "historicize" his own conceit by providing it with some kind of genealogy of the three orders of appearance: the Counterfeit attached to the classical period; Production for the industrial era; and Simulation, controlled by the code.

It was Baudrillard's version of Foucault's Order of Things and his ironical commentary of the history of truth.

The book opens on a quote from Ecclesiastes asserting flatly that "the simulacrum is true." It was certainly true in Baudrillard's book, but otherwise apocryphal.One of the most influential essays of the 20th century, Simulations was put together in 1983 in order to be published as the first little black book of Semiotext(e)'s new Foreign Agents Series.

Baudrillard's bewildering thesis, a bold extrapolation on Ferdinand de Saussure's general theory of general linguistics, was in fact a clinical vision of contemporary consumer societies where signs don't refer anymore to anything except themselves.

They all are generated by the matrix.In effect Baudrillard's essay (it quickly became a must to read both in the art world and in academe) was upholding the only reality there was in a world that keeps hiding the fact that it has none.

Simulacrum is its own pure simulacrum and the simulacrum is true.

In his celebrated analysis of Disneyland, Baudrillard demonstrates that its childish imaginary is neither true nor false, it is there to make us believe that the rest of America is real, when in fact America is a Disneyland.

It is of the order of the hyper-real and of simulation.

Few people at the time realized that Baudrillard's simulacrum itself wasn't a thing, but a "deterrence machine," just like Disneyland, meant to reveal the fact that the real is no longer real and illusion no longer possible.

But the more impossible the illusion of reality becomes, the more impossible it is to separate true from false and the real from its artificial resurrection, the more panic-stricken the production of the real is.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 169 pages
  • Publisher: Autonomedia
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Philosophy
  • ISBN: 9780936756028

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Comprised of "The Precession of Simulacra" and "The Orders of Simulacra".Overall, a systems theory account of social norms, semiotics / meaning, regulated behaviour, power. Would be useful to critique how Baudrillard's outlook differs from a Foucauldian analysis, and how it recasts it while staying faithful to the overall project. At root, Baudrillard appears to proffer an account of culture, of a social organisation & way of seeing, which proceeds as though adherents jettisoned the historical agreement to take material presence (empirical objects around us) as the basic source of reality. Rather, reality is now located in coordinates and models, cybernetic information or "industrialised DNA". Material objects are merely reproductions of these models, and as such, are not "children" or second-hand but actually as real as the models themselves. This is hyperreality, the lack of originary or real reference.One avenue of thought: a system has run amok, generating forms & structures which once served to mediate Reality, but now merely mask / overwhelm / replace / negate / efface that Reality. A cancer of the sign (and Baudrillard makes reference to metastasis in describing the system in fn 7 of "The Precession of Simulacra"). But, um, unclear what this 'system' might be: information media? Our socialised way of seeing the world and society? A byproduct of industrialised production / distribution? Baudrillard does not (here) provide an answer; the Wachowski Siblings provide one in the form of AI enslaving humanity in order to harvest the biochemical energy from their bodies. Well, it's a neat & tidy solution, in any case.Another avenue: the mode of production is key to the dominance of hyperreality, a Marxian foundation of semiotics, with sharp criticism for how Marxian thought focuses on goods rather than information.In neither instance is it discussed or clear to me how this "discourse of manipulation" and trading in signs or domination of models evolved. Is it a natural evolution of either modes of production (goods, services, capital), or of information exchange? Is it an ideological system, even though it clearly is not one directed by any group, even those benefiting from it? Both? Perhaps I missed that, I suspect it comes up in other writings. The reference and discussion of manipulation, power, distraction, and other influences of the system is clearly a negative thing, but Baudrillard does not spend much time discussing how / if it may be countered; why it may have emerged, or who may benefit. Even the "power elite" in societies, though they are in better situations than many others in their societies, seem equally used or dominated by the system."Precession" is in the style of an evocative series of vignettes or reflections, rather than a closely reasoned and sequentially fashioned argument. "Orders" is more a logical edifice, but also prone to fanciful prose. There are quotable bits galore, but not immediately clear what they mean.Read in 10-15 minute episodes over a span of two weeks (commuting during a period of intense project deadlines at work). In some ways the least desirable setting, given the density of the subject & Baudrillard's elusive / evocative prose (esp in the first essay). In other ways, almost ideal: short, sharp shocked -- burst of ideas, left to percolate as I went about daily tasks with little direct relation to the book.

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