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Travels in Hyperreality

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,892 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Eco displays in these essays the same wit, learning, and lively intelligence that delighted readers of The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum. His range is wide, and his insights are acute, frequently ironic, and often downright funny. Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
Paperback, 324 pages
Published May 27th 1990 by Mariner Books (first published 1973)
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Alex Bigney
hmmm. nice read until i got bored with an idea that was beat to death. eco seems to be in love with his own ability to draw obvious conclusions. and the conclusions start to lack while the pretention grows. i couldn't finish it--but the first half was good, so i gave it three stars. eco's main event seems to me to be "the name of the rose" afterwhich he becomes "umberto eco" and starts to rehearse that act a bit too much.
Eco suggests that for the average American’s taste, he feels the past must be preserved and celebrated in full-scale authentic copies; a philosophy of immortality as duplication. He also feels that Americans always want more of extra, and that we are not satisfied with the average serving of life and must strive to fabricate the absolute fake - for instance the oval office in Texas. Everyone, except perhaps, New Orleans, is on his shit list.
In his travels across American observing various museum
Jun 24, 2009 Tyler added it
Shelves: abandoned
These essays are not for the layman. They are complex and sometimes difficult to follow if you're not well-versed in whatever it is he's talking about. I got something out of a few of the pieces, but much of it was lost on me, perhaps for lack of really caring enough to put forth the requisite intellectual effort. As such, i won't give this one a rating. Just know that (minus one or two essays - in particular the one about blue jeans) this is not light reading.
This is a book of essays covering the years from 1973 through 1986 by Umberto Eco, the Italian novelist (The Name of the Rose), semiotician, and cultural critic. I had to look up the word “semiotician” (one who studies signs and sign processes (semiosis), indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication). I cannot say that I enjoyed this book; Eco always writes as if his audience just graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Western Civilization ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
A collection of essays by Umberto Eco from the seventies and early eighties written in the Italian Press and collected and translated into english. Eco when he writes for popular audiences is fun to read whether it be fiction or non-fiction. These essays are good and while a few are a little dated these days especially when he talks about media which back then was television and radio most of the essays and ideas are fresh and interesting. Some of his critiques of American culture in the begini ...more
There are (at least) two Umberto Ecos: the historical novelist of intricate, intellectually-driven plotlines and the pithy, witty essayist who comments on current events. Stylistically, these Ecos bear little resemblance to each other. They seem, instead, to share a teleological source, a general impulse, that is characterized by viewing everything always through the matrix of semiotics (well, that, and an encyclopedic knowledge of cultural references, arcane and popular, that allows me to menta ...more
A writer interested in a pseudoscholastic take on a nation so consumed by modernity that it became a hysteric caricature, and in the ways history is bastardized and the present ridiculously beatified to create a sleazy metropolis absent of culture, Eco was William Gibson ten years in advance.

Eco knows how to tell a tale, and getting drawn into his essays (which are more like bottomless trickbags) is hardly a difficult task. The breadth of his observation is exhausting; the title essay alone touc
I have to admit, I only bought this because the title made me laugh. The titular essay is the best thing here and is really the only piece from this book I would recommend strongly. It's a little reminiscent of Joan Didion, in its focus on the peculiarities of California culture in the 20th century and the underlying psychologies that bring about monuments to artificiality like Ripley's Wax Museum, William Randolph Hearst's sprawling mansion, and good ol' Disneyworld. Although there are some int ...more
Alex V.
I read only two essays in this collection. The title one speaks to the beautiful and horrific American sense of inflated reality as it manifests in its tourist spectacles, citing as examples a number of places I've been: San Simeon, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Disneyland and Disney World, and particularly the Madonna Inn, an over-the-top, theme-roomed Swiss chalet hotel in San Luis Obispo, CA where I spent my honeymoon. Eco doesn't sign off on the life-as-circus as he sees it here, but he gets why w ...more
11/12/2010 The beginning of this book was killing me - he goes on and on and on about some ideas and it was just plain boring - yes it's important to consider how we think of 'real' and qualify the representations of such, but there comes a point when you've communicated your idea and you just need to move on. I was beginning to think I should give up on him as an essayist, but now I'm in the midst of a section titled 'Reports from the Global Village' and despite the years since this book was co ...more
"To speak of things that one wants to connote as real, these things must seem real. The 'completely real' becomes identified with the 'completely fake.' Absolute unreality is offered as real presence. The aim of the reconstructed Oval Office is to supply a 'sign' that will then be forgotten as such: The sign aims to be the thing, to abolish the distinction of the reference, the mechanism of replacement. Not the image of the thing, but its plaster cast. Its double, in other words (pg. 7)."
Ferda Nihat Koksoy
Kitaptan Alıntı ve Sentezler:
-Çöken ROMA İmparatorluğu'nun nedenleri, Helenizm ve Tanrı Mitra inancına kapısını açması, Hıristiyanlığın gelişmesi, yeni kabilelerin göçlerinin kabulü ve vatandaşlaştırılmasıdır. Asiller pagan tanrılarına, askerler Tanrı Mitra'ya, köleler ise Hıristiyanlığa inanmakta; Klasik Romalı ve onun pagan inanışları ortadan kalmaktaydı. Bugün BATI'DA ROMA'NIN YIKILMASINDAN ÖNCEKİ HALE BENZER DURUMLAR MEVCUTTUR:
His analysis of Hyperreality defined how I saw things in the 90s and influenced a lot of decisions I made about my own personal artistic journey. He is a brilliant intellectual & a passionate writer...a rare combination. I also loved Foucault's Pendulem. It is the thinking woman's version of stupid Da Vinci's codes lack of context.
Lot of cool articles. Tough just keeping up with wikipediaing all the references. The man's an Italian Dennis Miller, only you know, smart.
Working my way through this one... slowly. I just finished the first essay on America's obsession with hyperrealism, the fetishization of places that preserve a "better" (read= more real than real) version of historical truth.
David Fulmer
This is a book of interpretation, analysis and criticism of one Umberto Eco, a professor of semiotics, novelist, Milanese. There are 26 essays which originally appeared in newspapers and magazines in Europe and cover an immense variety of subjects and themes. Among them: cinema, philosophy, historiography (the Middle Ages especially), mass communications, Disney, pop music, Superman, Barthes and McLuhan. Most of these essays were originally written in the 1970s and it must be said that some of t ...more
I feel like this book is staring at me.
Claire Doran
I have been meaning to read something by Umberto Eco ever since taking an anthropology class about urban spaces, where my professor referred to Eco and his categorization of Las Vegas as a postmodern urban space. I was surprised that in the titular essay of this collection, Eco barely mentions Las Vegas, deferring to the analyses of Robert Venturi and Giovanni Brino. I suppose writing about the semiotics of Las Vegas had "been done" at the time he was writing. I read on, regardless.

Some of the e
I highly recommend this book for those who have never read Eco. The subjects of this collection of essays are not typically Eco, but his writing and personality come through wonderfully. It is always remarkable to me how someone so erudite and so rigorous in this thinking can be equally bawdy, compassionate, thoughtful, and funny. I laughed out loud at several of the essays (and not just because I'm a nerd and got his jokes). The longest and most provocative essay in this series, "Travels in Hyp ...more
Yuu Sasih
I spend so much time read this book because of how the language flow--and I'm just a stupid 17 years old when I first read it. I borrowed this book from my friend in High School back then but finally give it back to him without ever finished it for I spend so much time to read--and understand--until it time for our graduation and I still didn't finish it. I want to find this book and read it again, because despite of my struggle,this book is totally interesting in theme, writing style, language, ...more
I read this book thirty years ago! I have used it non stop since then! Excellent Scholarly book. Now, I don't think I will be so taken, but then it opened my mind to an incredible amount of new concept. Saying that, I must also say, it is repetitive at times. Not a Novel!
Adam Gossman
I thought that Eco might be something like buckminster fuller. Apart from referencing him- not so much. Seemed a bit pompous for me. But I'll keep it and read it again in three years and then if I still think he is pompous then I'll ditch it.

I always found Umberto Eco's fiction a joy to read, so I decided to see what these essays were like. Some are very enjoyable, particularly the first one - ‘Travels in Hyperreality’, which dissects the USA’s unique brand of artificiality. Others I found less interesting, either because of the historical context (most essays from the late 70ies to early 80ies) or because I lack the required scientific background to fully understand Eco’s arguments. Ultimately, I had a good time switching from essa ...more
Useful for understanding the role of mimesis and simulacra in the latter half of the last century.

Sample snark: "True, if you reverse the signs, both say the same thing (namely, the media do not transmit ideologies; they are themselves ideologies), but McLuhan's visionary rhetoric is not lachrymose, it is stimulating, high-spirited, and crazy. There is some good in McLuhan, as there is in banana smokers and hippies. We must wait and see what the'll be up to next."

Read these essays if you're at a
Mohammad Munib
"May you live in an interesting period!" - A toast after ranting on about the Middle Ages. A hearty Italian. The quote was Chinese though. And the neo-Middle Age(s) are mostly American. In another column, sports entertainment is brilliantly swatted away as dumb-enough-for-you politics - & bum-tight jeans are given a moral spanking. Expos are Exposed in a wit that is heavens above the pun you probably just missed, and the world in general is a miserable pile of interesting curiosities. An enj ...more
Susan Holtz
Genius, hilarious.
Jun 10, 2008 Deborah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Zeitgeistophiles, sniffy aesthetes and permutations thereof
Patchy collection of essays with 1 or 2 winners. Eco has a rather breezy approach to his assay of American popular culture but he hits the mark in a few places. His bemusement is a little tinny at times but he at least seems to enjoy himself. The titular essay provides the most substance here. His comparison of William Randolph Hearst's California Shangrilah to Walt Disney's theme parks is spot on. Americans do like it authentically fake. The briefest of visits to Las Vegas should prove that.
I'm not much of a philosophy reader, but I enjoyed this book. I mostly borrowed it for the essay on sports chatter, which was/is brilliant and is still very applicable today, probably even more so given the amount of televised sport, fantasy leagues etc.:

"And since chatter about sport gives the illusion of interest in sport, the notion of practicing sport becomes confused with that of talking sport; the chatterer thinks himself an athlete and is no longer aware he doesn't engage in sport."
Jared Miller
The title essay is the best in the book, with Eco dissecting America's obsession with authenticity decades ahead of most others. The essay on Casablanca (the film) and cult movies in general is also a surprising gem. But much of his media criticism feels almost quaint -- this was pre-internet, McLuhan was still new and amazing, and everyone in academia was earnestly trying to become a tenured radical. Overall though a great read with many quotable tidbits.
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Umberto Eco is an Italian writer of fiction, essays, academic texts, and children's books, and certainly one of the finest authors of the twentieth century. A professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, Eco’s brilliant fiction is known for its playful use of language and symbols, its astonishing array of allusions and references, and clever use of puzzles and narrative inventions. His per ...more
More about Umberto Eco...
The Name of the Rose Foucault's Pendulum History of Beauty Baudolino On Ugliness

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“The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.” 206 likes
“Once upon a time there were mass media, and they were wicked, of course, and there was a guilty party. Then there were the virtuous voices that accused the criminals. And Art (ah, what luck!) offered alternatives, for those who were not prisoners to the mass media.

Well, it's all over. We have to start again from the beginning, asking one another what's going on.”
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