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Simulacra and Simulation [Paperback]

Jean Baudrillard , Sheila Glaser
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 15 1995 Body, in Theory: Histories
The first full-length translation in English of an essential work of postmodernism.The publication of "Simulacra et Simulation" in 1981 marked Jean Baudrillard's first important step toward theorizing the postmodern. Moving away from the Marxist/Freudian approaches that had concerned him earlier, Baudrillard developed in this book a theory of contemporary culture that relies on displacing economic notions of cultural production with notions of cultural expenditure.Baudrillard uses the concepts of the simulacra - the copy without an original - and simulation. These terms are crucial to an understanding of the postmodern, to the extent that they address the concept of mass reproduction and reproduceability that characterizes our electronic media culture.Baudrillard's book represents a unique and original effort to rethink cultural theory from the perspective of a new concept of cultural materialism, one that radically redefines postmodern formulations of the body.

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About the Author

Sheila Glaser is an editor at Artforum magazine.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Metafictional Mystery Novel Dec 4 2003
Format:Paperback
This is by no means an easy text to read. For those unfamiliar with postmodern tropes-and especially those who have never read Baudrillard before-this text may seem especially daunting. I recommend that these people start with the essay entitled 'Simulacra and Science Fiction'. In this essay, Baudrillard details the three orders of simulacra: the first, natural simulacra, are operatic, founded on images, and aim at the restoration of "the ideal institution of nature made in God's image"; the second order are both productive and operative, based on energy, and work toward "a continuous globalization and expansion [and] an indefinite liberation of energy"; the third order, the simulacra of simulation, are "founded on information [and] total operationality, hyperreality, [and the] aim of total control" (121). The differences between the various simulacra exist in the distance between the real and the imaginary exhibited by each order. This illuminating interstice provides the locus for projecting critical activity and idealism. The first order maximizes the projection, allowing the utopia to stand in direct opposition to the real. The second order reduces this projection. Baudrillard describes it as a hyper-productive universe in which "science fiction adds the multiplication of its own possibilities" (122). As all previous models implode, the third order of simulacra witnesses the complete disappearance of the projection between reality and the imaginary as it becomes reabsorbed in simulation. To Baudrillard, this is the world in which we live: no more real, no more imaginary, no more fiction, just an endless regression of lost meaning with no foundation, or rather an endless precession of simulacra. Read more ›
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1.0 out of 5 stars Pitiful! March 15 2004
Format:Paperback
Yes, if reality no longer exists then why write simulations that will add to that non-existence. This is the end of the road for French non-thought. Baudrillard brings together disparate items to make his case. I bought this book in order to get an idea of what postmodern philosophy has to say about the creation of models and their relation to the actual real product (mental or physical) that they are creating. This book was useless. Baudrillard says that models are to blame for the simulations that are created. This is Platonism devoid of the promise. For persons interested in the origins of statistical models this book is useless. For persons interested in the rhetoric of ekphrasis it is equally useless. If an image of a work of art (a model) is the basis for the ekphrastic in literary works, and the original model is not really "there", then what are people referring to? Baudrillard says nothing because there is no reference point. It is not clear if our simulations are to blame for the erasure of reality or what. The joke is on Baudrillard because he has to prove that what he is trying to prove doesn't exist. In the words of Gwendolyn from The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde) "Ah! that is purely a metaphysical speculation, and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life as we know them."
Don't waste you time or money.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary philosophy. But what's the point? Feb. 9 2003
Format:Paperback
Everything you have heard about this book is true. It is dense, complicated, annoyingly analytical, and fairly pointless. Yet it's also genius. To preface...Continental philosophy, in the past hundred years or so, has not been known for it's practical applications. Existentialism and Postmodernism are mental games for the Ivory Tower intellectual, sure. But that doesn't mean that they do not provide a model for looking at and thinking about the world that the average intellect can relate to and use. And this book is no exception to that. It IS dificult to understand, yes, but no where near as bad as most people in these reviews seem to think. Anyone with a basic understanding of Objectivism v. Subjectism, Platonism, and the empirical philosphers can get plenty out of it. The vocabulary is no worse then most other philosophy, and a lot less complicated then some (this isn't Kant). Baisically, Baudrillard shows us that reality no longer exists, and has been replaced by simulacra via the process of simulation, creatin what he calls the "hyperreal". It is a very enlightening read, and will make you really rethink how you view the world. The major problem with the book, as at least one other person has pointed out, is Baudrillard's cultural references. They are quite dated by this point, and you'll find yourself completely lost as to his point, since you can't relate to his subject. In the end though, it is a book that anyone interested in contemporary philosophy should read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Baudrillard vs. Matrix Sept. 7 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Yes "Similacra And Simulation" does appear in the Matrix. probably like the rest of you nuts, I ordered it on line the same night I slowed down that scene to see what Neo was reading in his "cave" and have read it a few times since.I'm wondering if anyone else noticed that the Directors, although perhaps influenced by this book, seemed more influenced by Platonic idealism and the Christ assention myth. Neo is the lone soul in the cave that goes into the light after years of feeling that something wasn't right in his guts and mind. With the help of his soon to be deciples he leaves the world of shadow and illusion for reality. One can also find the Christ myth in Neo's assention at the end of the film having been deemed "The One". Now getting back to the book. Neither Platonic idealism nor Christ-like assention jibe with the theory in S&S. B. claims that everything is a copy of a copy adinfinitum. Neo finds on the other hand that there IS a reality but that it needs uncovering. The Christ myth is a million mile away from being a posability in Baudrilliard's "world" where trancendence is impossible. Also if you read the essay "Crash" about Ballard's excellent 1973 novel you will find that B. would find "Matrix" in it's overall themes to be a bit old-school:
"This is what distinguishes "Crash" from all science fiction...Which...still revolves around the old function/disfunction, which it projects into the future along the same lines of force and the same finalities that are those of the normal universe."
Speaking of sci-fi, this reader's humble suggestion is to read Baudrilliard as such.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is far beyond its time
This book has so many profound observations about society in general. Baudarillard was far beyond his time because his ideas are so much more relevant for today's circumstance. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Richard Placzek
5.0 out of 5 stars Read my review its the ONLY one worth reading!!!!
...I came to the conclusion that no one understood the purpose or meaning of this compilation of essays. Read more
Published on Nov. 11 2003 by Wyatt Watkins
2.0 out of 5 stars Pointless, and therefore without a point
I had to read an essay of Baudrillard's for a class and even produced a paper about it - something about his ideas in The Day of the Locust. Read more
Published on June 11 2003 by Gulley Jimson
5.0 out of 5 stars Pointless? Sure. But enlightening still.
Everything you have heard about this book is true. It is dense, complicated, annoyingly analytical, and fairly pointless. Yet it's also genius. To preface... Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2003 by A. Steinhebel
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsubiatable Dispossession
Baudrillard, a false prophet of mobius confers his subaltern eschatology in reference to the social production of subjectivities. Read more
Published on Dec 19 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Hyper-reality? Hyper-confusion!
Culture is made up of communication process. And all forms of communication are based on the production and consumption of signs. Read more
Published on June 24 2002 by Suckwoo Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars congratulations Baudrillard!
a fine manuscript in every sense and now the honor and distinction of a major motion picture as well? hurrah! Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2002 by sharpie
5.0 out of 5 stars A Postmodern Essential
This, along with Lyotard's _The Postmodern Condition_, is perhaps one of the most famous works ever written by a Postmodern philosopher. Read more
Published on Dec 7 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Is the alphabet real?
I thought I had read this book but I now know it was only a simulation of what I had not read. 5 stars for being French.
Published on Sept. 28 2001 by robotjelly
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