Simulacra and Simulation
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Simulacra and Simulation

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  5,207 ratings  ·  162 reviews

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

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Paperback, 1st edition The Body, in Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism, 164 pages
Published February 15th 1995 by University of Michigan Press (first published 1981)
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Shiv
Some authors have a gift of being able to explain complex matters in simple terms. Baudrillard, on the other hand, seems to have the complete opposite - explaining essentially simple (although nontheless interesting) concepts in overly complex terms. While the core message of his essays is thought provoking and engaging, the text itself is so full of jargon, unnecessarily convoluted language, and a fair amount of repetition. If you are anything like myself you will spend an hour reading, rereadi...more
Adam
Basically the idea is just that people increasingly base their lives around collective ideas of things -- and those ideas can readily shift around and become something detached from reality -- rather than the things themselves. And that creates a free floating idea of society and the universe that supercedes concrete reality in its consequences.
Bradley
Totally, completely rad. I can just see people smoking bongs not getting this completely, but postmodernism IS the dominant episteme in the West... according to Chela Sandoval however, Jameson was right that Postmodernism is complicit with various colonial ideologies, and we must we wary of it in 2011... but, Baudrillard wrote this in 1981 (yea, that's the year I was born! How cool to be born when such a rad thinker like Baudrillard was doing his best stuff!) anyway - sort of think that postmode...more
Lit Bug
To dissimulate is to pretend not to have what one has. To simulate is to feign to have what one doesn't have. But it is more complicated than that because simulating is not pretending: "Whoever fakes an illness can simply stay in bed and make everyone believe he is ill. Whoever simulates an illness produces in himself some of the symptoms"
- Littré

Baudrillard sometimes fascinates me. Examining popular culture and its signs as taking over reality and replacing it, leaving only an unreliable refe...more
Adam
Completely agree with everything said in Shiv's review, as quoted:

"Some authors have a gift of being able to explain complex matters in simple terms. Baudrillard, on the other hand, seems to have the complete opposite - explaining essentially simple (although nontheless interesting) concepts in overly complex terms. While the core message of his essays is thought provoking and engaging, the text itself is so full of jargon, unnecessarily convoluted language, and a fair amount of repetition. If y...more
David
The Man Who Hates Everything helps define the hopelessness and helplessness of the postmodern world. He succeeds brilliantly; or, considering his goal, horribly.

He starts off strong, putting forth some stunning ideas while taking on God, Disneyland, Watergate, journalism, cinema, and advertising. He starts to stumble when he moves on to technology, and totally loses his thread when he tries to bring in sexuality, animals, and his ridiculous gender politics. He finishes by writing about the subje...more
Zach
a gem or two (the first essay in particular), but most of it is too trapped in its own flashy, alienating referents (ohohohoho) to sound like anything more than an extended fart noise.
Tyrran
Jul 19, 2011 Tyrran marked it as to-read
This book cannot be read like a Haruki Murakami novel, one to enthrall you during relaxation. This book is more like study material, each sentence of Baudrillard's can be heavily read into and some sentences require extended knowledge on the subject (to my dismay it forced me to endure a Jorge Luis Borges short-story). What piqued my interest to this book initially was from another book I read "Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix" by David Gerrold (I should howeve...more
Stephanie
Feb 06, 2008 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Philosophers and anyone with an open-mind
This is the kind of book that you find yourself bringing up in conversations all the time. It is applicable on so many levels; once you grasp the concept, it really grasps you back. It is relevant to me as an anthropologist, archaeologist and psychologist, but I would classify it more as a philosophy book. Bottom line: This book will do you good.
Ellen
Not so much a review as an illustration of why I like his thinking so much. A couple of excerpts from his book:

If we were able to view the Borges fable in which the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up covering the territory exactly (the decline of the Empire witnesses the fraying of this map, little by little, and its fall into ruins, though some shreds are still discernible in the deserts—the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction testifying to a pride
...more
Erik Moore
I just finished Jean Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation” published in the original French in 1981, but I had to wait for Sheila Faria Glaser to publish the translation in 1994. In it, Baudrillard sets up Hegelian dichotomies or “dialectics” like the observer and the observed, the real and the simulation, McCluhan’s media and message, and so on. He takes each of these and spins them out of control, bemoaning their loss as a loss of meaning. In his analysis of everything Baudrillard bemoans t...more
Rob
(8/10) Baudrillard is one of those guys who getts dismissed a lot as an obscure French academic, and he is all three of those things. But I think there's a kind of beauty to his writing that makes it more than just jargon. Baudrillard describes the world around us in terms of apocalyptic science fiction, drawing our eye to the way the horrific and the banal intersect in a world of illusion. The kind of juxtapositions and forceful rhetoric that he uses remind me more than a bit of J. G. Ballard,...more
Tasniem Sami
يلجا الكاتب لعرض مشاهد- - مقاطع تبدو وكانها مشاهد متلفزة عشواءية (تجديد مومياء رعمسيس ، فضيحة وترجريت ، مشاهد المفاعلات النووية ،حرب الكويت....
يستهل عرض فكرته بنكران وقوع الحادثة -هذا الفوق واقع
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كيف اصبح هذا الفوق واقع واقعا ً؟ لماذا لا تكون الحروب حلماً ؛حلماً من الدمار والنبالم و حرق الاشجار حيَّة ؟! ثم تمر من خلال السلوك والترانزستورات وانبوب الكاثود لتكون "حرباً " هل هذا يعني ان حرب فايتنام او حرب الكويت لم تقع ؟
لماذا يمثل المُفاعل النووي ما يمثله -كارثة الانفجار ، خطر حرب نووية مقبلة ؟
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Iain
This book is only so highly rated because it is utterly incomprehensible. Baudrillard revelled in using hundreds of words to write what were really quite simple and flimsy arguments. Responsible for inspiring a lot of impenetrable 'art-speak' which is unfortunately common at a lot of art school degree shows nowadays.
Bickety Bam
About two-thirds of the way through, I started to wonder if the whole book wasn't intended to be some sort of sick academic joke. While there were a few interesting points in it, I can't imagine a worse presentation of them.
Ian
"Ramses does not signify anything for us, only the mummy is of inestimable worth because it is what guarantees that accumulation has meaning. Our entire linear and accumulative culture collapses if we cannot stockpile the past in plain view" (Baudrillard, pgs. #9–10).

"… Los Angeles is surrounded by these imaginary stations that feed reality, the energy of the real to a city whose mystery is precisely that of no longer being anything but a network of incessant, unreal circulation—a city of incred...more
Algirdas Brukštus
"Postkultūrinė filosofija? Kažkokios naujos būties apraiškos, ar naujo būties pjūvio aprašymas? Manau, kad antra. Kažkodėl man išnyra akmens įvaizdis: akmuo, su viduje slypinčiais intarpais, gyslelėmis. Jie buvo visą laiką, tačiau akiai atsiveria tiktai tiktai padarius akmens pjūvį. Tai, ką autorius aprašo savo knygoje, visą laiką slypėjo būtyje, tiesiog autoriaus dėmesio skalpelis būtent taip per ją praslydo. Tokie žodžiai kaip "fraktaliniai objektai" (109 p.), "holograma" (123-128 p.) nerodo į...more
zack
The main essay "Precession of the Simulacra" was pretty difficult for me, but I feel like I understood and enjoyed a lot more getting into the shorter essays applying his theory to specific subjects. Finishing the entire book took about a month of picking it up and putting it down. Probably because these are the subjects I am interested in in general, I particularly enjoyed the following:

"Hypermarket and Hypercommodity"

"The Implosion of Meaning in the Media"

p.80 "Information devours its own co...more
Aaron
There’s not much point in trying to engage critically with a work already as thoroughly excavated as this one, so I’ll gloss over the actual substance of the thing - “Knock Knock, Neo”, Borges probably said it better, Procession of Simulacra is the absolutely essential essay and a lot of the rest of the book it is meandering bullshit which wanders ever further from the mother ship without explaining why, blahblahblah. There are already plenty of reviews which correctly make this point so I won’t...more
William Holm
I finally finished this one. I've been reading it when on travel for almost two years and I must say it is rather boring. I started reading it since it is often referred to, notably in connection with the movie Matrix. I do not think that many people who refer to it actually have read it. For me it was a "know-thy-enemy" experience. Baudrillard is a major figure among the postmodern philosophers and my opinion about that group concurs with Swedish philosopher Sören Halldén who have dismissed the...more
johan _5179
This book has simply managed to put me off all things post-structuralist and French at the same time. And has introduced a measure of disgust which I now feel towards both these subjects.

There are things you come across when you read a lot, things which sound profound and deep and wide-ranging before you realise that they are neither profound nor possess the all-encompassing grandeur which they make you think they do. Simulacra and Simulation is such a work.

The self-serving circular logic of sel...more
Barry
While S&S contains some very intriguing ideas and concepts, Baudrillard bogs the book down with his overly complex writing style that is more akin to the 18th century than to last century. But, this seems to be a hallmark of philosophers -- they can't feel important unless the average person cannot understand what they are saying.

I'd give this book a 2, but the concept of society embracing and living in simulations (and disimulation, which is possibly the more intriguing of the two concepts)...more
Timothy
Say "aleatory" again. Say "aleatory" again. I dare you. I double-dare you, motherfucker.

Okay, aside from that, I really liked this book. Much more entertaining than is the norm for poststructuralist theory: the little passage about theme parks ringing Los Angeles like power stations will stick with me for a while, like a tidbit from a favorite novel. Most of the content here isn't the sort that you can take away and use to live your life, but it's fun and relevant in a vague way. It's weird to s...more
DoctorM
Okay, now. You realise that I bought this only because of "The Matrix". I knew who Baudrillard was, of course, and I'd read other books by him. But I had to have this one just as a kind of pop culture icon--- a kind of souvenir from the po-mo gift shop.

That said, it does make a good precis of some Baudrillard's key ideas, and it's reasonably straightforward about a mass-democracy late-capitalist mass-media world's view of what constitutes the socially real. So--- worth reading, and worth having....more
Alex Lee
This is not an easy book to read, in part because Baudrillard starts off with his ideas in full development and then talks around them, to explain them... or he starts off with an example, develops the idea within the example, and then ends by wrapping the example around itself, rather than ending on the application of the idea. In any case, he doesn't do the historicity thing by telling you the past and then developing the series of thoughts. Instead, he plops you in the middle and makes you fl...more
Hunter Bagby
I appreciated this book for it's ideas. The first essay does a fantastic job of explaining Baudrillard's concept of how mass media has created hyperreality and how this increasingly destabilizes the search for absolutes. The section "Political Incantation," in which he claims power is dead and has become simulacra, is a highlight, and interesting in its psychoanalytic examination of Watergate as symbolic death. That's all great stuff, and Baudrillard seems to write best when he has a specific ha...more
John Carter McKnight
After loathing _The Vital Illusion_, I had to be pushed to read this, and I'm glad I was. While about a quarter of it is content-free raving, the rest is quite brilliant, insightful, subversive. It's astonishing how much better his analysis fits our world than that of the 1970s he was writing about: digital media, Facebook, memes, security theater, permanent war against anyone but our enemies - he saw the genesis of these things and their root causes a generation ago. A remarkable and essential...more
Frank
The three stars is more for me than Baudrillard. More academic than I am generally accustomed to reading over Labor Day weekend. I wish I understood some of the concepts that were above my head more and better understood some of the low-hanging fruit. Still, an easier read than I was led to believe, and the concepts of reality are very thoughtful. Useful to read for writers of any kind -- fiction, non-fiction, etc. Now to dig up "On Exactitude in Science" by Borges.
Jan
I think those that complain about the repetition in the book didn't get the point the form was making: the first essay is his thesis while all the following chapters refer back to it, so the the content of the first is repeated and you (I was) start to believe it ("One both believes and doesn't." (Baudrillard, 1994: 81)), while judgement should depend upon whether we believe the first essay, and not its positioning as premise. Genius.
Natalia
It is interesting and thought-provoking material, but it seems to be complicated for the sake of being complicated. Baudrillard presents a nihilistic, fatalistic, existential, Marxist view of the world, closely related to Plato's Allegory of the Cave, but without the joie de vivre. I read it for my graduate art theory/art history class.

One of the most frustrating texts I've ever read. Extremely influential, but if there ever was a text that ought to be spark-noted, this would be it. I disagree...more
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Matrix Trilogy 7 59 Mar 10, 2013 04:52PM  
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Jean Baudrillard (27 July 1929 – 6 March 2007) was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism.

Jean Baudrillard was also a Professor of Philosophy of Culture and Media Criticism at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he taught an Intensive Summer S...more
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