Simulacra and Simulation

Questions, speculations & updates on the techniques and nature of media fakery

Simulacra and Simulation

Postby nonhocapito on January 1st, 2012, 11:41 pm

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At the beginning of The Matrix, Neo is shown holding a carved out copy of "Simulacra and Simulation", a 1981 book by Jean Baudrillard.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacra_and_Simulation

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.
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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby nonhocapito on January 1st, 2012, 11:53 pm

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A moment later, Neo opens the carved out book at the last chapter, "On nihilism". I assume this is not incidental. Here's from the chapter:

The universe, and all of us, have entered live into simulation, into the malefic, not even malefic, indifferent, sphere of deterrence: in a bizarre fashion, nihilism has been entirely realized no longer through destruction, but through simulation and deterrence.


The true revolution of the nineteenth century, of modernity, is the radical destruction of appearances, the disenchantment of the world and its abandonment to the violence of interpretation and of history.

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. He who strikes with meaning is killed by meaning.


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.
This, only terrorism can do.


...it would be beautiful to be a nihilist, if there were still a radicality—as it would be nice to be a terrorist, if death, including that of the terrorist, still had meaning.
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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby fbenario on January 2nd, 2012, 2:24 am

Excellent collection of quotes, especially in the first post. What a sad time we live in, where essentially nothing about the world is as it appears to be.
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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby hoi.polloi on January 2nd, 2012, 2:46 am

I like what you are posting.

We are humans and we recreate our entire universe in our minds. There is nothing really that we detect - with scientific instruments or not - that are not limited by our senses. We can enhance the senses we have but not the senses we don't have. So the universe we inhabit is the mental one. We experience a reality that requires us to use our own senses to completely build that universe.

With simulation, our senses are dulled, unused and re-purposed for imagination rather than for perceiving reality. I think this is partially why we live in this schizo paradigm where people don't want to look at reality and they want to live in fantasy. Because our amazing imaginations are not being used to perceive the maximum amount of reality but instead are filtered into fantasy, we actually connect our fantasy worlds with our inherent selves. It's natural to do so - king's decrees and other propaganda have probably existed since agriculture came about - but observation of completely artificially controlled cause-and-effect (jokes with fake audience laugh tracks, movies with fake physics, etc.) is now far more present in our lives than it was before.
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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby corsarino on January 2nd, 2012, 3:17 pm

nonhocapito wrote: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.


I think WWII also was a strange war,(Phoney War );

It was more important the simulation than the actions of Armies, Navies, Air Forces.
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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby reel.deal on January 2nd, 2012, 9:37 pm

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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby Samiam-ish on January 4th, 2012, 4:12 am

Greetings and Happy New Annual Time Unit to the forum.

I spent Christmas reading the thread on the NASA space shuttle and I have to say I found it a model of patient, diligent and intelligent research. I found it inspiring the way you helped each other tease out the necessary information.

As I progressed through the argument I kept thinking of Baudrillard and his notions on “Simulacra and Simulation” and I laughed when the discussion took in U2, the poster boys for the Simulated experience - which in their case is probably ‘Simulated Caring’. (I’m Irish and slagging U2 is a healthy habit/minor obsession for me.)

When I finished reading about the space shuttle I found this thread had been strarted by nonhocapito and it was interesting to me because I mentioned Baudrillard in my introduction to this forum where I wrote:

I’m sure some people on this site are familiar with Guy Debord’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’ and, more pertinently Baudrillard’s ‘The Gulf War Did Not Take Place’. These Texts now seem to operate as both a critique and an instruction manual for the ‘simulacrum’ - 9/11 being its finest moment so far - but it is a long time since I read either book.


In the original post on this topic nonhocapito writes:

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.


So I thought it might be interesting to revisit what Baudrillard actually wrote in the wake of the 9/11 ‘Event’ because, as he was one of the world’s most influential philosophers at the time, his thoughts on the subject were obviously going to carry a lot of weight.
So, if it please the forum, I humbly offer my analysis of his essay “The Spirit of Terrorism” which can be found here:

http://insomnia.ac/essays/the_spirit_of_terrorism/

The first thing to note is that, apparently, the essay was written in October 2001 and first published the by the French Newspaper ‘Le Monde’ in November 2001. (The Translation I read is credited to a Chris Turner).

If this timeline is true then, for a deep philosophical thinker with a poetic turn of phrase like Baudrillard, this must be something akin to writing reportage. So, in this sense, he may actually be writing his impressions without full knowledge of what had happened: ie he too (like many of us) believed what he saw on Television that day and is responding only to that limited and imperfect knowledge. In other words he was ‘taken-in’ by the official narrative.

The cosmic irony of Baudrillard missing ‘fakery’ or ‘simulation’ when it was right under his nose is profound, but possibly all too human.

Of course, a contrary position is also possible: Baudrillard may, in some way, have been connected to the events and his essay was commissioned by the Perps to provide intellectual cover/distraction for their true motives.

For the moment, however, I’m going to reserve my position on either of these two possibilities and attempt an examination the TEXT.

In the first paragraph, like all good writers, he sets the scene:

When it comes to world events, we had seen quite a few. From the death of Diana to the World Cup. And violent, real events, from wars right through to genocides. Yet, when it comes to symbolic events on a world scale — that is to say not just events that gain worldwide coverage, but events that represent a setback for globalization itself — we had had none. Throughout the stagnation of the 1990s, events were "on strike” […] Well, the strike is over now. Events are not on strike any more. With the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, we might even be said to have before us the absolute event, the "mother" of all events, the pure event uniting within itself all the events that have never taken place.


In the second paragraph he outlines the philosophical question the attacks have created:

The whole play of history and power is disrupted by this event, but so, too, are the conditions of analysis. You have to take your time. While events were stagnating, you had to anticipate and move more quickly than they did. But when they speed up this much, you have to move more slowly — though without allowing yourself to be buried beneath a welter of words, or the gathering clouds of war, and preserving intact the unforgettable incandescence of the images.


Let’s read that last clause again:

Preserving intact the unforgettable incandescence of the images.


This, I suggest, is at the heart of what Baudrillard is trying to express here. He is recognizing the power of the images we and he have seen and how they have changed the world. He goes on to write that we are all complicit in these images, that we ‘wished’ for them and that the superpower (USA) has fomented violence across the globe and created the terrorist imagination which dwells in all of us.

He writes that hatred for the Power of the Superpower is not just with those who are disinherited and exploited by it, but also extends to those who share its advantages. They too share the malicious desire to destroy definitive order, definitive power. And this leads him to a striking analogy:

When the two towers collapsed, you had the impression that they were responding to the suicide of the suicide-planes with their own suicides. It has been said that "Even God cannot declare war on Himself". Well, He can. The West, in the position of God (divine omnipotence and absolute moral legitimacy), has become suicidal, and declared war on itself.


He continues:

The countless disaster movies bear witness to this fantasy, which they clearly attempt to exorcize with images, drowning out the whole thing with special effects. But the universal attraction they exert, which is on a par with pornography, shows that acting-out is never very far away, the impulse to reject any system growing all the stronger as it approaches perfection or omnipotence.


Then he discusses how the complexity of the global system has created its own vulnerabilities, how hackers and hijackers and can bring the whole thing to a halt.

So far, I would argue, Baudrillard is backing up the Perps. He is reinforcing the official line that “terrorists” hate our “freedom”. His twist is that “we” hate our “freedom” too and that some or most of us were glad or relieved that the “system” had been attacked. “Terrorism” he writes “like a viruses, is everywhere”. Almost as if the attacks were inevitable. And, if the attacker is viral in nature then the dominant system has no defence against that.

So, perhaps unwittingly, perhaps deliberately, Baudrillard is once again reinforcing the official story of asymmetrical warfare, where you never know where the next attack is coming from. He is, perhaps, foreshadowing the paranoia that will come and providing an intellectual justification for “fear”.

This situation, to him seems inevitable:

If Islam dominated the world, terrorism would rise against Islam, for it is the world, the globe itself, which resists globalization.


I find this a curious statement. Is the High-Priest of Post-Modernism arguing for a return to a simpler epoch? To modernism? To Nationalsim perhaps?

Nevertheless he goes on to state:

Terrorism is immoral. The World Trade Center event, that symbolic challenge, is immoral, and it is a response to a globalization which is itself immoral. So, let us be immoral; and if we want to have some understanding of all this, let us go and take a little look beyond Good and Evil. When, for once, we have an event that defies not just morality, but any form of interpretation, let us try to approach it with an understanding of Evil.


[…]

In metaphysical terms, Evil is regarded as an accidental mishap, but this axiom, from which all the Manichaean forms of the struggle of Good against Evil derive, is illusory. Good does not conquer Evil, nor indeed does the reverse happen: they are at once both irreducible to each other and inextricably interrelated. Ultimately, Good could thwart Evil only by ceasing to be Good since, by seizing for itself a global monopoly of power, it gives rise, by that very act, to a blowback of a proportionate violence.


The collapse of communism, as he sees it led to the global triumph of what he calls “liberal power” and the only counterweight to this power, he argues, is Islam which he describes as:

a ghostly enemy emerged, infiltrating itself throughout the whole planet, slipping in everywhere like a virus.


To me this is a very convenient conclusion that does nothing but chime with the official narrative. Even if Baudrillard was writing in the immediate aftermath of the event and with no insider knowledge doesn’t this language seem unnecessarily definitive? Does he too have a ‘confirmation bias’ where the only conclusions he can draw from the argument are the ones he started with? Everyone else was trying to sell ‘Islam’ as the enemy. Wouldn’t you think that a thinker like Baudrillard would have some other insight to offer?

What Islam has achieved, he argues, is:

[A] fundamental change [where] the terrorists have ceased to commit suicide for no return; they are now bringing their own deaths to bear in an effective, offensive manner, in the service of an intuitive strategic insight which is quite simply a sense of the immense fragility of the opponent — a sense that a system which has arrived at its quasi-perfection can, by that very token, be ignited by the slightest spark. They have succeeded in turning their own deaths into an absolute weapon against a system that operates on the basis of the exclusion of death, a system whose ideal is an ideal of zero deaths.


[…]

Here, then, it is all about death, not only about the violent irruption of death in real time — "live", so to speak — but the irruption of a death which is far more than real: a death which is symbolic and sacrificial — that is to say, the absolute, irrevocable event.
This is the spirit of terrorism.


Of course we now know that Islam had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, so Baurdillard’s arguments here are worthless. However, for readers of this forum there is at least some irony:

If the voluntary martyrdom of the suicide bombers proves nothing, then the involuntary martyrdom of the victims of the attack proves nothing either, and there is something unseemly and obscene in making a moral argument out of it (this is in no way to deny their suffering and death).


And yet more irony:

… what stays with us, above all else, is the sight of the images. This impact of the images, and their fascination, are necessarily what we retain, since images are, whether we like it or not, our primal scene. And, at the same time as they have radicalized the world situation, the events in New York can also be said to have radicalized the relation of the image to reality. Whereas we were dealing before with an uninterrupted profusion of banal images and a seamless flow of sham events, the terrorist act in New York has resuscitated both images and events.


It could still be said that Baudrillard’s only mistake in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was to believe the hype. He confuses an artificial simulation with an actual ‘event’. Most of us did for a while.

And yet rereading this essay in the context of this forum I can’t help but feel a little let down…
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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby whatsgoingon on January 4th, 2012, 7:10 pm

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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby brianv on January 4th, 2012, 8:17 pm

whatsgoingon wrote:It is so odd that Baudrillard's philosophy was dead nuts correct about simulation in the modern era, and the book Simulacra and Simulation was then used as a prop in The Matrix, which is the ultimate movie of a simulation, and yet, this philosopher was so easily drawn to the notion that 9/11 was real. Wonder how much money he took to say that? I am half kidding. He could have been fooled, like we all were, but it seems he lacked even the wherewithal to question his position on 9/11. He did not even muse that it was a PsOp, when he knew Gulf War I was so unreal. What a shame.


I doubt if money was the prime factor, he was getting on a bit, more like his establisment credibility.

Strange in fact that he could go along with it knowing the "ultimate act of terrirism" demolished the main premise of his work!

Jumping on the sofa screaming "that was no fu*king airplane" is hardly being fooled now is it? <_<
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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby simonshack on January 4th, 2012, 9:50 pm

brianv wrote:
Jumping on the sofa screaming "that was no fu*king airplane" is hardly being fooled now is it? <_<


Woah - did you too, Brian? Hahaha! Just laughing at the thought of the two of us simultaneously jumping & screaming on our sofas - a thousand miles apart! :lol: :lol: :lol:
Image

(Today I've read Baudrillard's writings concerning 9/11 - in original language. Will be back with thoughts about it all...)
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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby whatsgoingon on January 5th, 2012, 2:49 am

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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby fbenario on January 5th, 2012, 3:02 am

brianv wrote:Jumping on the sofa screaming "that was no fu*king airplane" is hardly being fooled now is it?

Did you really know the very first day there were no planes? If so, then VERY well done!
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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby Samiam-ish on January 5th, 2012, 3:41 am

Baudrillard has another essay on 9/11 called “Requiem for the Twin Towers”.

I found a version here: http://bit.ly/wr2im2 (via Google Books) and have taken some simple observations from it.

Early in the essay he describes the Towers as:

Perfect parallelepipeds, standing over 1,300 feet tall, on a square base. Perfectly balanced, blind communicating vessels [...] The fact that there were two of them signifies the end of artificial reference. If there had only been one, monopoly would not have been perfectly embodied. Only the doubling of the sign truly puts an end to what it designates.


These words made me realise something else – The Twin Towers could also represent a giant sans serif ‘11’ in the New York skyline. Something I’d never considered before.

Coincidentally I had reason to examine the symbol recently. Turn it 90 degrees and what do you see in the middle of the symbol?

Obviously, in the context of the very serious discussions in this forum, this is a rather trivial observation and maybe even not that interesting to most of you. But I’ve just figured it out so it’s fresh in my mind.

The other thing I’d like to point out is Baudrillard’s final paragraph in his ‘Requiem...’ essay.

... although the two towers have disappeared, they have not been annihilated. Even in their pulverized state they have left behind an intense awareness of their presence. No one who knew them can cease imagining them and the imprint they made on the skyline from all points of the city. Their end in the definitive material space has borne them off into a definitive imaginary space. By the grace of terrorism, the World Trade Center has become the world’s most beautiful building – the eight wonder of the world!


Anybody else feel he's trying just a little too hard here?

EDIT: Fixed some spelling.
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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby simonshack on January 5th, 2012, 2:52 pm

whatsgoingon wrote:
How long did it take you?


Dear Whatsgoingon,

As it happens, on Dec14 2011 Craig McKee (of the Truth and Shadows blog) e-mailed me with this question - that he has submitted to a number of (quoting Craig) 'notable members of the truth movement'. Craig just wrote me yesterday thanking me for my response - and saying that he should very soon have all the responses he has received up on his blog.

Here's Craig's question:
“When did you come to believe that the 9/11 official story was false and that 9/11 was an inside job – and what piece or pieces of information convinced you?”

Here's a short extract of the brief article I sent him in response:
Like everyone else, I was of course shocked on 9/11 2001 by the TV news reports of four commercial airliners being simultaneously hijacked by 19 suicide hijackers armed with box-cutters crashing into the twin towers and the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania marshland. Like everyone else, I was shocked to read in the newspapers the next day, that “20.000” people had died (yes, I’ve saved copies of such dramatic newspaper headlines). And like most people - I dare say and hope - I immediately had serious doubts about the veracity of this most outlandish, Hollywood-smelling tale.

Within 48 hours of the event, a purported “amateur video” was aired on TV (credited to one “Michael Hezarkhani”). It showed the alleged “Flight175” effortlessly penetrating World Trade Center 2 - without as much as an aileron breaking off. I instantly jumped up from my couch and shouted: “Whaaaat? That plane melded into the building without as much as an aileron breaking off!!??? That’s just ridiculous! Physically impossible !!!”

For some reason that I am quite frankly unable to fathom, I did not act upon that first reaction of mine - and as many as 5 more years went by before I even started analyzing the available imagery of that day. I guess that, like everyone else, my mind was incapable to process the extent of human wickedness necessary to enact such a massive hoax upon mankind. As I put together my September Clues documentary, I felt almost ashamed that it took me so long to act upon (and expose) the utter absurdity of these planes seen on TV - integrally disappearing into steel frame buildings as if they were made of Jell'O.


And yes, by some twist of synchronicity, I wrote the piece about 'jumping up from my couch and shouting' only a few days before Brianv wrote his above post here! ^_^
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Re: Simulacra and Simulation

Postby SmokingGunII on January 5th, 2012, 5:16 pm

Interesting Simon. I remember the first thing that made me sit up and think "is this for real?" was when both towers collapsed. Although I'm not a structural engineer, I have some knowledge of steelwork and structural design and it seemed impossible to me that these two towers could just collapse due to a relatively small puncture (I still believed the plane bit back then ;) ).

I don't ever recall seeing the Hezakhani footage on UK TV at the time and can vividly remember the first time I saw any plane hit was when the Naudet Mockumentary was aired. After that, I thought no more about 9/11 until someone showed me Loose Change :P . Considering the hours I have spent researching and reading about 9/11 and how addictive this forum is, I sometimes wish I had never bothered. :wacko:
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