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Simulations (Semiotext(e) / Foreign Agents) Paperback – 1 Jan 1983

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Product details

  • Paperback: 169 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; Highlighted edition (1 Jan. 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936756020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936756028
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 1.3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 166,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Jean Baudrillard (1929--2007) was a philosopher, sociologist, cultural critic, and theorist of postmodernity who challenged all existing theories of contemporary society with humor and precision. An outsider in the French intellectual establishment, he was internationally renowned as a twenty-first century visionary, reporter, and provocateur.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pindolly on 9 May 2013
Format: Paperback
This man would be no good at parties.
Having said that, he is very good in my essays, and integral to any thinker trying to elucidate this hyperreal, postmodern world we've woken in. His style is dense, but fruitful. Have a cup of tea or something stronger on the go before ready for sitting down and tackling the B man.
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Amazon.com: 11 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Difficult reading, but interesting insights (sometimes swallowed up by verbiage) 2 Jan. 2007
By Steven A. Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jean Baudrillard, postmodern thinker, despairs; he claims, in "Forget Foucault," that there is an "impossibility of any politics" in our current situation. An important part of this context are media simulations, of reality so obscured by the play of images completely unrelated to any "reality" which might be out there that we are hopelessly incapable of arriving at any judgments on which to base political decisions and actions. Images on television and in the movies and in other media are "floating signifiers," having no real connection to concrete referents. The key concept associated with Baudrillard is simulations and the simulacrum. He begins by quoting Ecclesiastes: "The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth--it is the truth that conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true" (by the way, this quotation may be a simulacrum; I could not find it in Ecclesiastes!). Simulations began historically as replicas of the real, as reflections of "reality." However, with time, simulations have become increasingly detached from concrete "real" references. Simulations do not have reference points or substance or any tie to "reality." Simulations have become "a real without origin or reality"--a hyperreal. We face a procession of images and simulations, and lose sight of the simple fact that they are "floating signifiers." The simulacra become real for us.

Put in post-structural (or postmodern) terms, the models created are floating signifiers (simulations in Baudrillard's terms) which structure people's discourse with one another and shape their behavior. Images become crucial in politics. After presidential debates or major policy speeches or elections, the "spin patrol" gets going. These are the spokespersons of the parties or candidates who try to convince the audience that their simulations of the event are better than their opponents' simulations. In the process, no one particularly cares what actually happened or what was said. It is the simulations pushed by the various actors that become the news.

Baudrillard's writing is challenging; many will write him off as an unreadable crank. Nonetheless, the underlying concept of the simulacrum is fascinating and generates much reflection. This is a postmodern work that may actually speak to some real world issues. . . .
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Did anyone bother to proofread or copyedit this book? 4 May 2011
By Bill Stratford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The experience of reading Baudrillard always involves masochism and requires a sense of humor, but this manuscript went to print in an appalling state. These are not items lost in translation, but periods in the place of commas, 'out' used instead of 'our', things being 'curcumscribed' etc. - Things that undermine the text every five or six pages. This book has been distributed by MIT since the early 1980s and its amazing that it went to print in this state, and that no one has corrected the text.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Simulations for Beginners 4 Nov. 2012
By csandy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jean Baudrillard's Simulations is a philosophical text in the sense that it is verbose, dense, insightful, and possibly pretentious. I say pretentious because I find most philosophical texts somewhat elitist- rather than getting to the point quickly, the words circumnavigate until your mind is dizzy, and then, just then, you possibly arrive at the conclusion. Perhaps it's just me. That being said, Baudrillard speaks of our post-modern society as a reality entrenched by simulations. The models that were created to represent ideas and things, such as maps, have become the reality. The signified is now the real. This makes me question, if this is true (and it seems as though it is), what then becomes of our old reality, the one that the models and maps were supposed to represent but not become?
I imagined someone researching a foreign place on the internet, reading up on every idiosyncrasy, topography, and dish particular to that country and after turning off the computer, feeling as though he was something of an expert, or at least feeling as though he'd visited that place. Other visuals that helped mewere treadmills and wii-fit. Entering x amount of time and distance to be run, and then running in place, and finally looking at a report that said you burned x number of calories by running this much distance at x speed. Mind you, you never stepped off the treadmill. Wii-fit simulates a workout (cardio, yoga, dance...based on the game you choose), you do it and motion sensors read your body movements and tell you how hard you're working, to go faster, or to encourage you. You work up a sweat, the game ends, and then you're done.
I can appreciate Baudrillard's insight into the way society perceives reality; the simuli as the reality is a detachment from a basic reality. He speaks of three orders of simulacra, a first, a second, and a third order. The first order is the original thing or idea. The second order is the archtype, a perfect example and/or replica. The third order is the prototype of the original. By this point, the thing is no longer tangible, it is entirely a simulation of the original and because it is only a simulation, it has no functional reality. Outside of the simuli, it does not nor can it exist. Thinking about communication, something intrinsic to human development and progress, here's how I see the three orders: face to face as the first, the basic, and the original. The second order is the telephone because it carries our voices and our messages; it serves its function as a way to communicate, but it is an external object we now use and depend on. The third order seems to be the most popular as well as the most detached way to communicate today; tweets, texts, icons, and posts. There are rarely any face to face interactions anymore, most is now done through a screen. It's depressing in a way because as a society, we have lost so much of what connects us as humans.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Criminally Messy, Unedited Translation 30 Jan. 2015
By David Andrew Auerbach - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For many, this is clearly a seminal text. Yet, I really wonder what most readers think when plowing through this slim yet dense tome. As other readers have already pointed out, this edition is in desperate need of a re-edit. In fact, it would only do the author justice if the entire text were retranslated. Aside from punctuation errors, there are quite a few misspellings and typos (curcumscribed, ilusory, Phillipino, leucemiaziation, no real [instead of not real]), bizarre constructions ("once shortcircuited the myths"; "the means to so are available"; "otherwise you could never send people out to get smashed up in this kind of trouble"), as well as numerous examples of questionable usage (actuality, in function of). Furthermore, since the translators were American and British, we get both UK and US spelling and punctuation, without any apparent rhyme or reason. What is most unfortunate, however, is that the translators did not bother to research quotes, and thus Sebeok, for example, gets back-translated from French, even though he originally wrote in English. This has to rate as one of the greatest crimes of translation. I find it hard to believe that it ever gets assigned as reading material in universities without anyone noticing what a tremendous wreck it is.
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) was a French philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer most associated with the “Postmodern” movement.

He begins this 1983 book, “If we were able to take as the finest allegory of simulation the Borges takes where the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up exactly covering the territory… then this fable has come full circle for us, and now has nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra. Abstraction today is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory---PRECISSION OF SIMULACRA---it is the map that engenders the territory…” (Pg. 1-2)

He says, “the affair goes back to religion and the simulacrum of divinity… But what becomes of the divinity when it reveals itself in icons, where it is multiplied in simulacra? Does it remain the supreme authority, simply incarnated in images as a visible theology? Or is it volatilized into simulacra which alone deploy their pomp and power of fascination---the visible machinery of icons being substituted for the pure and intelligible idea of God? This is precisely what was feared by the iconoclasts… Their rage to destroy images rose precisely because they sensed this omnipotence of simulacra, this facility they have of effacing God from the consciousness of men, and the overwhelming, destructive truth which they suggest: that ultimately there has never been any God, that only the simulacrum exists, indeed that God himself has only ever been his own simulacrum.” (Pg. 8)

He explains, “representation… starts from the principle that the sign and the real are equivalent … Conversely, simulation starts from the UTOPIA of this principle of equivalence, from the RADICAL NEGATION of the sign as value, from the sign as reversion and death sentence of every reference. Whereas representation tries to absorb simulation by interpreting it as false representation, simulation envelops the whole edifice of representation as itself a simulacrum.” (Pg. 11)

He observes, “Disneyland is a perfect model of all the entangled orders of simulation. To begin with it is a play of illusions and phantasms: Pirates, the Frontier, Future World, etc. This imaginary world is supposed to be what makes the operation successful. But what draws the crowds is undoubtedly much more the social microcosm, the miniaturized and RELIGIOUS reveling in real America, in its delights and drawbacks… The objective profile of America, then, may be traced throughout Disneyland… All its values are exalted here, in miniature and comic strip form. Embalmed and pacified… digest of the American way of life, panegyric to American values, idealized transposition of a contradictory reality… Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation. It is… concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus of saving the reality principle… Moreover, Disneyland is not the only one. Enchanted Village, Magic Mountain, Marine World: Los Angeles is encircled by these ‘imaginary stations’… As much as electrical and nuclear power stations, as much as film studios, this town, which is nothing more than an immense script and a perpetual motion picture, needs this old imaginary made up of childhood signals and faked phantasms for its sympathetic nervous system.” (Pg. 23-26)

He argues, “It is always the aim of ideological analysis to restore the objective process; it is always a false problem to want to restore the truth beneath the simulacrum. This is ultimately why power is so in accord with ideological discourses… for these are always discourses of TRUTH---always good, even and especially if they are revolutionary, to counter the mortal blows of simulation.” (Pg. 48-49)

He notes, “Three orders of appearance, parallel to the mutations of the law of value, have followed one another since the Renaissance: ---Counterfeit is the dominant scheme of the ‘classical’ period, from the Renaissance to the industrial revolution; ---Production is the dominant scheme of the industrial era; ---Simulation is the reigning scheme of the current phase that is controlled by the code. The first order of simulacrum is based on the natural order of value, that of the second order on the commercial law of value, that of the third order on the structural of value.” (Pg. 83)

He asserts, “It is a new generation of signs and objects which comes with the industrial revolution. Signs without tradition of caste, ones that will never have known any binding restrictions. They will no longer have to be COUNTERFEITED, since they are going to be produced all at once on a gigantic scale. The problem of their uniqueness, or their origin, is no longer a matter of concern; their origin is technique, and the only sense they possess is in the dimension of the industrial simulacrum.” (Pg. 96)

He concludes, “The very definition of the real becomes that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction… At the limit of this process of reproductibiliy, the real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is ALWAYS ALREADY REPRODUCED. The hyperreal…” (Pg. 146)

This is a very accessible, fairly brief book, that would make an excellent “introduction” to Baudrillard, as well as a welcome addition to his works for those of us who have read his other books.
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