At the beginning of The Matrix, Neo is shown holding a carved out copy of "Simulacra and Simulation", a 1981 book by Jean Baudrillard.
I don't know if this book has already been discussed on this forum, anyway, as I am browsing through it, I realize that once again The Matrix is giving us a convoluted clue about something.
I haven't read this book in its entirety, and, like many ambitious essays, it is possible that it complicates things rather than simplifying them: but at first sight I'd say that this book is relevant to our research. At least in the sense that it can help us understand the frame of mind that validates the pigs in charge in their inevitable perpetuating replacement of reality.
The books in fact declares the enormous place that simulation has taken in our world, to the point of replacing reality in all its aspects. As humans used to have a map of the world, now all they have is the map, that completely hides the world behind it. Simulation replaces reality because signs are "more malleable than meanings". And of course the role of the media is the crucial one, as they are the active agent that replaces meanings with simulations.
A few interesting quotes:
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 and to the order of simulation.
Illusion is no longer possible, because the real is no longer possible.
Is any given bombing in Italy the work of leftist extremists, or extreme-right provocation, or a centrist mise-en-scène to discredit all extreme terrorists and to shore up its own failing power, or again, is it a police-inspired scenario and a form of blackmail to public security? All of this is simultaneously true, and the search for proof, indeed the objectivity of the facts does not put an end to this vertigo of interpretation.
It is necessary to see in this impossibility of isolating the process of simulation the weight of an order that cannot see and conceive of anything but the real, because it cannot function anywhere else. The simulation of an offense, if it is established as such, will either be punished less severely (because it has no “consequences”) or punished as an offense against the judicial system (for example if one sets in motion a police operation “for nothing”)—but never as simulation since it is precisely as such that no equivalence with the real is possible, and hence no repression either. The challenge of simulation is never admitted by power. How can the simulation of virtue be punished? However, as such it is as serious as the simulation of crime.
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.
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.
Atomic war, like the Trojan War, will not take place. The risk of nuclear annihilation only serves as a pretext, through the sophistication of weapons (a sophistication that surpasses any possible objective to such an extent that it is itself a symptom of nullity), for installing a universal security system, a universal lockup and control system whose deterrent effect is not at all aimed at an atomic clash... but, rather, at the much greater probability of any real event, of anything that would be an event in the general system and upset its balance. The balance of terror is the terror of balance.
...what, ultimately, is the function of the space program, of the conquest of the moon, of the launching of satellites if not the institution of a model of universal gravitation, of satellization of which the lunar module is the perfect embryo? Programmed microcosm, where nothing can be left to chance. (...) Through the orbital inscription of a spatial object, it is the planet earth that becomes a satellite, it is the terrestrial principle of reality that becomes eccentric, hyperreal, and insignificant.
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, and the answer is included in the question. Thus all the messages in the media function in a similar fashion: neither information nor communication, but referendum, perpetual test, circular response, verification of the code.
We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.
...the media are producers not of socialization, but of exactly the opposite, of the implosion of the social in the masses.
The whole scope of advertising and propaganda comes from the October Revolution and the market crash of 1929. Both languages of the masses, issuing from the mass production of ideas, or commodities, their registers, separate at first, progressively converge.
The Father and the Mother have disappeared, not in the service of an aleatory liberty of the subject, but in the service of a matrix called code. 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.
Today, it is the real that has become the alibi of the model, in a world controlled by the principle of simulation. And, paradoxically, it is the real that has become our true Utopia—but a Utopia that is no longer in the realm of the possible, that can only be dreamt of as one would dream of a lost object.
Interestingly, I learn from Wickypedia that Baudrillard wrote a book about the first Iraqi war, in 1991, entitled "the gulf war did not take place", underlining the artificiality of the whole thing, and how the war itself was a simulation and a rite, more than an actual war. Conversely, he appears to have supported the official story of 9/11 completely, calling it "the absolute event". Strange paths.