This, Baudrillard wrote, is "the most beautiful allegory of simulation."
"Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential
being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor
does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory -- precession of simulacra -- that engenders the territory, and if one must
return to the fable, today it is the territory whose shreds slowly rot across the extent of the map. It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges
persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of the Empire, but ours. The desert of the real itself."
Slavoj Zizek took that last bit as a title for a post-9/11 essay: "Welcome
to the Desert of the Real,
" which was previously used by Larry Fishburne's character Morpheus in The Matrix. Zizek applies Baudrillard's ideas
to the World Trade Center attacks, via The Matrix:
"When the hero (played by Keanu Reeves) awakens into 'real reality,' he sees a desolate landscape littered with burnt-out ruins -- what remains of
Chicago after global war. ... Was it not something of a similar order that took place in New York on September 11? Its citizens were introduced to
'the desert of the real' -- for us, corrupted by Hollywood, the landscape and the shots of the collapsing towers could not but be reminiscent of the
most breathtaking scenes in big catastophe productions.
Which is to say that the simulation preceded the real. The towers being hit by airplanes and then tumbling into rubble were not so amazing because we
couldn't believe it was happening, but because we'd seen it before in movies.
[This, incidentally, is why 9/11 movies like Oliver Stone's World Trade Center appalled me: they're effectively simulations of a reality which had
already been simulated in film before the fact, and then relived (re-simulated) in endlessly cycling news reels. Why on earth would we all need to see
a weak dramatization of events we all lived through, a dramatization that brought us no new insights?]
In the introduction to 1998 book called Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science, Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont wrote:
Our goal is precisely to say that the king is naked (and the queen too). But let us be clear. We are not attacking philosophy, the humanities or
the social sciences in general; on the contrary, we feel that these fields are of the utmost importance and we want to warn those who work in them
(especially students) against some manifest cases of charlatanism. In particular, we want to "deconstruct" the reputation that certain texts have of
being difficult because the ideas in them are so profound. In many cases we shall demonstrate that if the texts seem incomprehensible, it is for the
excellent reason that they mean precisely nothing.
That was referring to Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, and other, mostly French theorists, many of whom were more popular in America than in France.
edit on 9-9-2010 by psychederic because: (no reason given)