Baudrillard is a shithead

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I VOW TO WRITE AT LEAST 1000 WORDS A WEEK OF CONTENT SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS BLOG TO BE POSTED EVERY FRIDAY FOR THE NEXT 12 WEEKS.

This is incoherent but I hope it comes together and has psychic energy:

PART 1

Deleuze is better than Baudrillard. I mean if you think about it, Baudrillard’s making this really conservative claim that everything that came after a certain point is just a shallow imitation of The Golden Age when men were men and the real was real. He makes some valid points about how it’s easy to mistake our models for reality given they’re so pervasive these days, but suggesting we’re doomed and that this is somehow a world we can’t learn to cope with is a cop out. Deleuze’s thoughts on the simulacra in the second paragraph here are way better and more interesting than Baudrillard’s because he takes the simulacrum as something potentially positive.

When things are rootless (rhizomatic) there’s no need to compare them to any other state because they’re happy to just be things in themselves, and we can explore how they differ on their own terms. “[The simulacrum] harbors a positive power which denies the original and the copy, the model and the reproduction”, just like that stuff I posted about the synth horn in Problem Areas. The fact that it’s indistinguishable from the supposed ‘real’ object exposes how shitty and flawed the idea of “real” and “imitation” is in the first place. Baudrillard’s entire body of work is founded on the idea that the simulacrum makes everything false rather than making everything real, and the fact that he can’t let go of this bullshit “reality principle” against which everything is compared and found wanting is what makes him a shitty theorist. There’s a longer article on Deleuze & Guattari on the simulacrum here.

Susan Sontag has some really good stuff on the replica and the simulacrum here in ‘AIDS and its Metaphors’ from page 87 – 93.

PART 2:

There’s a good explanation of the Order of Simulacra here, beginning with the Holy Roman Empire on page 10 and ending with page 13. (From Manuel DeLanda’s ‘War in the Age of Intelligent Machines’, which is an absolutely fantastic book.)

The typical definition of simulation says it’s the process of fulfilling a model’s criteria for what constitutes a certain state, when on an assumed ‘deeper level’ they actually aren’t, eg. the stick is actually a stick insect. In the moment a model’s criteria are met, it’s impossible for the model to determine whether they were met through simulation. We can only describe something as simulation after the fact of its failing to meet the criteria of a different, typically more complex model, or the same model at a different time. Simulation can only occur in hindsight, ie. you can only know you’ve been lied to in hindsight.

Baudrillard is so intensely and fundamentally conservative because he’s confused his model, his “reality principle”, with the real world. He’s marked a point in history at which the world became wrong – when “reality disappeared”. He says the simulacra is “free of all reference to the real” because he can’t accept that reality’s moved on without him. “Baudrillard’s framework can only be the result of a nostalgia for the old reality so intense that it has difformed his vision of everything outside of it.” It’s not that we’re “unable to distinguish” simulacra from ‘reality’, but that there is no distinction – they’re the same thing at different stages of life. One regime of truth displaces the old regime – this is why Hyperreality is “more real than real”. Hyperreality is New Truth. It’s fresh reality. In time it will fade and cool and congeal into ‘reality’. As it dies, it will begin to appear false. This regime of truth will pass, and so will the next, and so on to infinity.

Counterfeit, replica and simulation correspond to thresholds of simulation. Baudrillard would describe these as thresholds of exactness in representation – we get better at fooling more precise models, we can create illusions of greater depth. Advances in technology (eg. Photography) enable qualitative leaps in our model fooling ability – they enable us to pass a threshold at which the simulation and the object of simulation (eg. A parrot) become indistinguishable to the model. “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®” is a great example of this – advances in food technology have (So Unilever claims) passed the threshold at which the biological-taste-model-fooling technologies of Unilever’s food engineers can render the difference between butter and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®” imperceptible to our biological taste model ie. Our sense of taste. Getting back to music, audio technology can produce a noise which differs negligibly from a human voice according to our biological human voice detection model ie. Our nervous system + ears.

But on a deeper level, these advances in “exactness in representation” are really advances in the production of truth. They produce their model of the world and assert its dominance – in supposedly ‘fooling’ a model, they assert the existence of a model to be fooled. The genius of Trident Crisis isn’t that you could mistake it for something from the late ’80s, but that you could mistake the late ’80s it’s constructed for something which existed prior to Trident Crisis. Trident Crisis is an image so powerful it can trick you into believing the reality it’s constructed pre-exists it.

Baudrillard would call Trident Crisis a simulation because it imitates a reality that ‘never was’, but this is because simulation is raw truth – newborn reality with no basis in the old regime. All our simulations fight for dominance until one gets to say “I’m true, no one else is” and then we get reality. As I said, simulation gives lie to the fact that reality is a load of shit. Everything you think is reality has been constructed this way. Everything Baudrillard thought was reality had been constructed this way: “He cannot see that all the things he says have crumbled were simulacra all along.

There is no ‘truth’ except that which is constructed through imitation (mimesis). Re-presentations assert certain things about the objects they’re ‘imitating’. Firstly, that there is an object to be imitated – an object with precedes them. Secondly, that this object can be imitated. In this way, the ‘imitated’ object is composed of the assumptions on which its imitation is founded – the state of being classified as an ‘imitated’ or ‘original’ object is a product of the process of ‘imitation’, not the other way around. Representation is the production of truth. Advances in simulation are not simply advances in our ability to produce a 1:1 representation of the world, but in our ability to assert that what we have produced is a 1:1 representation of the world, and in doing so to construct the world. Trident Crisis is not an image of the late ’80s, but an image which produces the late ’80s.

“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth — it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.”

Representation is just the trick of saying “This thing existed before I produced it, this thing exists independent of me.” Truth is the trick of saying your story is the only one that can be told. The problem is saying “this is true, so this other thing can’t be true.” Everything is true. Baudrillard says there’s a ‘deeper level’ on which simulation differs from reality. The truth is there is no deeper level. Models produces states of existence. Simulation and reality are two sides of the same coin. Simulation is truth defined positive-inclusively, reality is truth defined negative-exclusively.

Why doesn’t “I can’t believe it’s not butter” taste like butter?

“We have consumed “I can’t believe it’s not butter” for so many years that we no longer like real butter. Real butter has to be refrigerated and is very hard to use. It’s what the taste buds get use to.”

If you want to learn more about this, read these guys:
• Susan Sontag – Against Interpretation
• Deleuze & Guattari – Anti-Oedipus & A Thousand Plateaus.(The idea is that you zip around the books and read it in whatever order you like, but that’s the best way to read everything imo. Pick these up in book form if you get the chance.)
• Brian Massumi – A User’s Guide to Capitalism & Schizophrenia (Check out p. 181 note 12 for more on what I talked about here, also ‘Pleasures of Philosophy’ is worth reading. Everything on this page is worth reading, especially First and Last Emperors which is incredible)
• Manuel Delanda – Nothing really relevant to this beyond what I posted, but his books are cool and you should read them. He works with Deleuze & Guattari, like Massumi.
• Umberto Eco – Travels in Hyperreality.

Scraps

“Against cynicism, a thin but fabulous hope — of ourselves becoming realer than real in a monstrous contagion of our own making.” “Gigantic hologram in three dimensions, in which fiction will never again be a mirror held toward the future, but a desperate rehallucination of the past.” “Well this can’t be a parrot – it’s nothing like the one on TV!” The surface is true. Depth is where lies live. It’s like wave-particle duality – it’s not that these things are both waves and particles, it’s that they’re neither. There is a state of being an imitation apart from the logic of mimesis. Truth and imitation are processes of asserting dominance. Simulation has never been imitation – imitation is the alibi. Simulation is the production of truth. Reality is a story which pretends it’s the only one that can be told. Baudrillard has stumbled upon the birthplace of reality and recoiled in terror.

BONUS – Really old posts on this thing

POST 1

What I’ve taken from OPN is that there is holiness in everything, there is beauty in everything, and that no matter how ‘alienated’ we become there will always be the potential for immanence, punctum, religious experience. It’s the idea that the fake trombone sound or the anime mask can go beyond the ‘close enough’, that it can go beyond the logic of representation and mimesis and take on a life of its own – a life just as real as that of the ‘real’ trombone. Declaring a trombone sound more ‘real’ than any other is just the same as saying your sexuality is more ‘normal’ or that you’re any more ‘human’ than anyone else.

It’s like that old painting – ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe.’ One mistake is to assume that this representation of a pipe really is a pipe, but the second mistake is to assume that it is a representation. It is neither a pipe, nor is it a representation of a pipe – it simply is. Whatever we decide to call it is papered on top of its pure being-in-itself. And this goes back to the problem of ‘final interpretations’ – there is simply the text, and the meaning produced in the process of reading-writing the text, produced by the relationship between the reader and the text. Not produced by either one of them, but by their relation.

The truth is that if nothing is real, everything is real – or I suppose has the potential to be real, to be a thing-in-itself. Truth isn’t a ‘fact’, it’s not a static thing – it can be changed. Truth is just the sense of rightness and inviolability. That’s not to say truth isn’t real, or that nothing is true – just that truth only happens inside our heads. ‘Fact’ is fiction which doesn’t know it’s fiction, ‘interpretation’ is reading which doesn’t know it’s reading – both make the error of assuming someone else has to think what you think.

POST 2

James Ferraro posted Jarvid 9: Kava Jar Race DISC II PART I on facebook. The song doesn’t have any depth, in the sense that all its levels exist simultaneously on the same level and the song doesn’t change but exists all at once as sections drift from the virtual to the actual and back at their leisure. There are no beginnings or endings!! It only recedes or advances. Linear time is hierarchical, the past cedes it ground to the present. Linear time is territorial. The past dies. This is the Eternal Moment, the acknowledgement that timespace is a 4-dimensional solid within which everything is occurring at once and consciousness appears as a line gnawed through hyperspace, brightness. Neither hierarchical nor non-hierarchical – Neither-Neither. Is – Surfacelessness and absolute depth. Surface – pure vacuity. Neither. NO absence – the nothing which is full – the No-Thing. Gecko from the same album is good too.

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