I’ve been reading Baudrillard. Who is he? Why is his work important? Well, for one he’s a philosopher, an intellectual, and an amazing thinker. His work is strange I’ll admit, and probably too esoteric for most, but I enjoy it. I enjoy breaking it down and reading piece by piece. Just thinking about it really. It’s different and refreshing and helps me prioritize—about bigger things, things that matter.
More about Jean Baudrillard though. He’s a post-modernist, a hyperrealist. Someone who believes that reality can be split into both the real and the hyperreal. The hyperreal is his own theory. The best way to explain the hyperreal is through the application of what is called a simulation. Baudrillard believes that in our excessive media/technology driven culture, we, as a species, have in fact drifted away from reality. Instead, life has become hyperreal because we base the real off of simulations. References are made to other references, and not to conditions on the ground, so to speak. A simulation exists because it is copying the reflection of something, not its true self. Reality still exists of course, but we can no longer recognize it, because we are always in the face of what is hyperreal.
It’s sort of an eye-opening theory whether you believe in it or not, because it suggests a condition where human beings are unbeknownst detached, for some reason that is never explicitly stated in Baudrillard’s work. What is so interesting about Baudrillard is that no matter how far he goes, no matter what abstraction or detail he goes into, the root cause is never really explored. The hyperreal exists because it does. Almost like it is part of being human.
But of course then you have to wonder how something can exist as a result of being human when it seems artificial in the first place. Alas, this is where it really gets interesting. This is where Baudrillard points out the differences between signs and objects; between meaning and simply the reflection of a meaning itself. If you follow, there is a difference between a sign and an object. A sign indicates the presence or occurrence of something. And as humans, we use sign-sign comparison to give meaning, or “light” to the fact of what is. However, using the referential of signs to objects results in something different, something mirrored. A physical object is. The reflection of the physical object is just the reflection.
Think about it. When you look at a rock, or a sculpture, or a bicycle, the object exists as it is. The mirror of the object is not the object and does not exist as the object does in that exact sense. We know this. Yet the very reality of the situation, the situation of living in a hyperreal world is that we might be staring at something that has been reproduced from the mirror of something else.
I’m not sure if I believe in the presence of hyperreality in the way Baudrillard does, it tends to dissect too much. Everything becomes a reflection of some other reflection and it becomes meaningless after awhile if you have nothing to trace back to.
But what stays true is the idea of a simulation. Representations of reality that slip away from a grounded context. Simulations explain how it is so easy to become inundated in a world of technology and the constant buzz of smartphones. All of these devices become real in the hands of their users, all of these users become entangled in a simulation. The only question is really whether or not you, or any individual, wants to leave, or simply stay in this realm of existence.
It’s easy enough if you’re already there. If it doesn’t need fixing, why bother? The outcome has already been decided. To try to deconstruct the very reality of a possible situation, that is a slippery slope. That’s crazy. Right?