Baudrillard’s Importance for the Future

My argument is that Baudrillard continuously said that “everything is simulation (or virtual)” rather than saying that “there is more and more simulation (or virtuality)” because the diagnosis of simulation, simulacra, virtuality, and hyperreality in contemporary culture is not the main concern of his work. The main concern of his work is to open a new knowledge field of reflection on and investigation into the possibilities of the challenge to the simulacrum. He is primarily interested in how the condition of hyperreality can be contested and changed. Baudrillard thought that the “epistemological” statement that “everything is simulation” is a prerequisite to getting to the vitally important questions of conceptualizing where exactly there could be challenges to the system of virtuality in its mainstream manifestations. Baudrillard believes that it is only by acknowledging the simulacrum, facing it head on, that one can then begin to theorize about social change. Those who insist upon defending the good old-fashioned “natural reality” (or what is left of reality) against the virtual or the posthuman circumstances cannot get to this point of challenging the system. They cannot reach the plateau from where they can see the new vistas of resistance.

The best book that has been published on Baudrillard is the relatively brief Jean Baudrillard: The Defense of the Real by Rex Butler.38 The question that Butler makes central to his book – and which he sees as being Baudrillard’s essential problematic or query – is how can the commentator who wants to speak of simulation or challenge simulation establish an “outside” position with respect to simulation when everything is indeed simulation, including the discourse of the analyst himself? The study by the Australian art historian treats Baudrillard’s thinking systematically and delineates the hidden entanglement between seduction (the challenge to the simulacra or the possibility of reversal of the system, the possibility of the emergence of “a new real”) and simulation.

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Foto: Sylvia John

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