Jean Baudrillard: ¡§Procession of Simulacra¡¨
Presented by Brian Chen, October 22, 1998
Thesis: We are living in a world dominated by mass media, images, signs, and any other simulacra. It is a realm of hyperreality and simulations where truths no longer exist.
  1. Baudrillard's idea of the "new universe" is that of communication.
  2. About "Procession of Simulacra":
A. Simulation:  
to feign not to have what one has. to feign to have what one hasn¡¦t.
implies a presence. implies an absence.
leaves the reality principle intact: the difference is always clear; it is only masked. threatens the difference between ¡¥true¡¦ and ¡¥false,¡¦ between ¡¥real¡¦ and ¡¥imaginary.¡¦
starts from the principle that the sign and the real are equivalent. starts from the utopia of this principle of equivalence, from the radical negation of the sign as value, from the signs reversion and death sentence of every reference.
tries to absorb simulation by interpreting it as false representation. envelops the whole edifice of representation as itself a simulacrum.

B. The Four Phases of Images:

  1. The image is the reflection of a basic reality;
  2. The image masks and perverts a basic reality;
  3. The image masks the absence of a basic reality;
  4. The image bears no relation to any reality whatsoever: it is its own pure simulacrum. (256)
C. Baudrillard is opposed to science:
  1. 1. ¡§science never sacrifices itself; it is always murderous¡¨ (257).
  2. 2. ¡§The confinement of the scientific object is the same as that of the insane and the dead¡¨ (258).

D. Baudrillard is oppose to American culture:
  1. 1. What is ¡§Disneyland¡¨?
    1. a place of illusions and phantasms;
    2. a veritable concentration camp;
    3. It is there to conceal the fact that it is the ¡¥real¡¦ country, all of ¡¥real¡¦ America, which is Disneyland.
    4. Presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation.
    5. A deterrence machine set up in order to rejuvenate in reverse the fiction of the real.
  1. 2. What does ¡§Watergate¡¨ suggest?
  2. a. Baudrillard¡¦s Marxist idea: ¡§Power is unjust, its justice is a class justice, capital exploits us, etc¡¨ (263).

    b. TV news:

  3. =>A succession of surface images, only signifiers to experience.
  4. =>A collage of fragmented images of images of images.
  5. =>The final hyperreality.
  6. =>In it, there is a postmodernist denial of historicity; the past is treated as

    a resource bank of images for casual reuse, a collapse of everything

    into the present.

    3. The game of assassination is a game of power.

    ¡§Power . . . produces nothing but signs of its resemblance¡¨ (269).

E. Baudrillard¡¦s argument on TV media:
  1. 1. He agrees McLuhan that the medium is the message¡Xnot content but the form of the media is of importance.
  2. 2. The function of TV and mass media is to prevent response, to privitize individuals, to place them into a universe of simulacra where it is possible to distinguish between the spectacle and the real.
  3. 3. We are in a universe where there is more and more information and less and less meaning.
  4. 4. The refusal of meaning is the only form of resistance possible in a society like ours which suffers from information overload.
  5. 5. We are bombarded with information-rich images.
  6. 6. What we can to do it is to accept images only as signifiers, only as surfaces, and to reject their meanings, their signifieds.
F. What is ¡§IMPLOSION¡¨? G. What is ¡§DETERRENCE¡¨? (275-6)  III. Baudrillard¡¦s comments:
  1. Everything is ¡§hyper,¡¨ ¡Vin excess of itself.
  2. Postmodern culture¡Xthe era of consumer culture:
  1. Traditional distinctions and hierarchies (?) have collapsed;
  2. Polyculturalism is acknowledged.
  3. Kitch, the popular and difference are celebrated.
IV. Conclusion: Baudrillard: We live in the world of simulations. There is no ¡¥real¡¦ external to them, no ¡¥original,¡¦ no longer a realm of the ¡¥real¡¦ versus that of ¡¥imitation¡¦ or ¡¥mimicry¡¦ but rather a level in which there are only simulations.