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Simulacra and Simulation

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  10,898 ratings  ·  436 reviews
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 exp ...more
Paperback, 164 pages
Published 1994 by University of Michigan Press (first published 1981)
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Luke Connors Ethan Russell hit the nail on the head. The Matrix trilogy is to Baudrillard as The Big Lebowski is to Taoism. It's just an entertaining story to desc…moreEthan Russell hit the nail on the head. The Matrix trilogy is to Baudrillard as The Big Lebowski is to Taoism. It's just an entertaining story to describe something very complex in laymen's terms. Baudrillard doesn't even assume a place where reality exists, since the hyperreal has supplanted it. But the hyperreal itself is just "nexus of symbols" that pretend to reference the reality they falsely claim to represent. In other words, the true "reality" in the Matrix doesn't even exist to Baudrillard. Where the Matrix makes the claim that the real world and the virtual world both "exist", Baudrillard claims that the "real world" has been completely lost and the virtual (i.e. the "map") is all that remains.(less)

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Trevor
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
When Plato spoke of the simulacra he meant it in a way that is quite different to how it is meant here, so, to understand what is meant here we probably should quickly look at what Plato meant. For Plato the world about us isn’t the ‘real’ world – it can’t be, not least because the ‘real’ world needs to be without contradictions and to be without contradictions there can be no change, no death (which is much the same thing). That means that the world we think we inhabit isn’t the ‘real’ world, b ...more
Toby
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
I admit I read this primarily because I learned that the whole cast of The Matrix was forced to read it to get them all primed and pumped for the deeper meaning of the film.

Welcome to the Desert of the Real.

Indeed!

In fact, most of the most salient points of this classic 1981 work of philosophy ARE delineated in the movie! One of the most telling points was when a certain piece of steak was getting cut and he was cutting a deal with the policemen of the Matrix, talking about how much BETTER the
...more
Bradley
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Praj
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ctext
**(This review has been dedicated to the charitable literary contribution of Alfonso’s (a.k.a The Crimson Fucker) penis , an essential piece of conceptual art of penile architecture.)



The simulacrum is never that
which conceals the truth-it is
the truth which conceals that
there is none.
The simulacrum is true. -Ecclesiastes


It has been a week and Sammy hasn't stopped humping the cilantro or sucking the lonely grape. The dung beetle has left its profession for some weed. Since Martha’s (the pig) d
...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 r
...more
Alex Lee
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. He will start off with an example, develop the idea within the example, and then end by wrapping the example around itself, rather than ending on continual applications of the idea. In any case, he doesn't do the historicity thing by telling you the past, where the idea may have come from, and then develop the series of thoughts that outline the ...more
johan _5179
Dec 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Iain
Jul 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
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.
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
Tyrran
Nov 29, 2010 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 rated it really liked it
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.
Magdelanye
In spite of the difficulties I had with this challanging work, I believe I get it.
We are living in end times and we're screwed by our notions of and distance from reality.

From the premises "Reproduction is always diabolicalin its very essence....simulation...is still and always the place of a giagantic enterprise of manipulation, of control and of death..."p153
we get the conclusion:
"there remains only a demand linked to the empty form of the institution- perverse demand,and for that reason all t
...more
Bickety Bam
Dec 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
David
Jun 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Maxim
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Please, welcome our new cybernetics prophet to whom everyone will bow in 30 years.
Steven Peterson
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 "floa ...more
Brandon Woodward
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
“It is dangerous to unmask images, since they dissimulate the fact that there is nothing behind them.”

Simulacra and Simulation is very wordy and obtuse, but holds some really interesting ideas about culture and society as a whole. A quick way to explain the topic of the book is by looking at The Matrix (which actually featured this book in one scene and used many of Baudrillard’s ideas as a basis for its story). In The Matrix, people live in a world that seems real, but is actually a simulation
...more
Ellen
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jeremy
Jul 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I read part of the first half back in college. Going through it again I find myself having the same reservations, Baudrillard's style is overly dependent on these really repetitive, almost cheekily nihilistic assertions. And while his in-your-face style is provocative, ultimately, it just amounts to an aweful lot of empty rhetoric about how totally empty everything is. A lot of it just seems like stuff he read and regurgitated from Deleuze and Foucault and then mixed up with his own sense of che ...more
Craig Jaquish
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A few years ago I came across a study where female chimps were found to prefer caricatured images of the alpha males over untouched images. In another a red dot on a certain bird’s black beak was identified as a target for the chick to peck at in search for food. The chicks pecked just as frantically at a red dot on a black stick. The hyperreal seems to be something like this where the essential component parts of a thing are inflated to the degree that the mere connective tissue drops from exis ...more
  LunaBel
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: s-book, lang-french
I finished this a couple of days ago and I still think of things that I've read in the book. It is, the least to say, an original book. I appreciate how Baudrillard conceives a whole new level of reality. Hypereality is that which is more real than the real. It is getting rid of representations mirrors and keeping the empty simulations to rule and guide us.

However, to what extent is this real? have we really given up on our traditional reality in favor of simulations, and are ads, junk TV, and
...more
Stan Van
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Simulacra and Simulation is the Kama Sutra of mental masturbation.
Ian
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"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
Erik Moore
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Diz
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Despite it's shortness, this is a meaty book. It's one of those books that make you pause to think after almost every sentence. Part of this is due to the depth of the content and part of it is because the author (or perhaps the translator?) chose to express his ideas in the most complex way possible, or that what it feels like as you read this. The basic idea is that signs, symbols, and simulations no longer refer back to a reality, but instead have meaning and effect on their own. This is an i ...more
Remus Balint
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I will never existentially recover from this.
LPG
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Hmmm.

Old mate made some fair points, but on the whole his outlook was a bit much for me.

There was a realisation I had while in high school, up late and writing an ill-fated essay. You can argue convincingly for any ‘truth’ you can think of. The stars will always align if you tilt your head just right. The proof will come to you if you know just where to reach for it.

This book was a lot like that. Very clever. Very depressing. And very focused on one persons version of the truth.

Not a bad readi
...more
Kevin
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"TV is watching us, TV manipulates us, TV informs us” says Baudrillard, in 1981. In our present world, which has sprung from reality television, our center of gravity has flipped from the planet (reality) to the orbital (a map of reality). We now find ourselves in the era of Twitter and social media, where the ‘medium' has become the message, the source of truth in itself. Within our collective, it is the medium, rather than the reality, which renders most true. Borge’s view of the world is true ...more
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Matrix Trilogy 6 89 Mar 10, 2013 04:52PM  

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Jean Baudrillard 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 Seminar.

Jean Baudrillard's phil
...more

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