Culture of the hyperreal, Criticism of the masses - History of cultural studies

28.2. Culture of the hyperreal

The theme of the simulation J. Baudrillard continues to develop in the book "Simulation and Simulation" (1981), which represents, on the one hand, an attempt to generalize his previous theoretical developments, and on the other hand, the author's reflections on contemporary cultural and economic phenomena. The book consists of 18 chapters, each of which could be considered a separate work. In the first chapter, the "precession of simulacra" J. Baudrillard defines the simulation as "generation, using models, real without source and reality: hyperreal". The simulation is so large-scale that it makes everything real coincide with the simulation models. In this case, the most significant difference between simulation and real disappears. The era of simulation begins with the elimination of any correlation, with the elimination of all referents and their artificial resurrection in sign systems. Here, there can be no question of parody, or of doubling, or of imitation, but only of replacing the real signs with real ones, i. E. about the awesome manipulation of the whole real process by its operational counterpart - a machine that is programmable and irreproachable.

The author draws attention to the difference between simulation and presentation. If the idea proceeds from proportionality, even utopian, sign and real, then simulation, on the contrary, from the utopia of the principle of proportionality, proceeds from the radical negation of the sign as a value from the killing of any correlation. J. Baudrillard identifies successive phases of representation: 1) it reflects a deep reality; 2) it masks and denaturalizes the deep reality; 3) it masks the absence of deep reality; 4) it does not correspond at all with any kind of reality: it is a pure simulacrum. This is the gradual movement of culture to the era of simulation. The era of total simulation predetermines other relations in the sphere of culture. So, losing its ubiquity power, it turns out to be the same simulacrum as the resistance it exerts. Only criticism and negativity still produce a specter of reality of power. And if, for one reason or another, they run out, the authorities will have nothing else, as soon as they are artificially resurrected, hallucinate. "

In the book, a number of chapters analyze the phenomena of giant cultural and trade universes, in which there is a continuous consumption of goods and services of culture. J. Baudrillard emphasizes the phenomenon of over-saturation of culture, and this stepping over a critical mass threatens to burst from within. He sees such symptoms in the sphere of information: "We are in a universe in which more and more information becomes more and less and less meaning."

The philosopher distinguishes two reasons why this happens. First, because the information, instead of inducing to communication, is engaged in its actuation. The same - and with respect to the meaning: information does not make sense, but plays it. And in this - a gigantic process of simulation. Secondly, behind this enthusiastic game of communication, the mass media vigorously carry out the destruction of the social. While traditionally the socializing function was attributed to the media, in the changed cultural situation it turned out to be exactly the opposite.

28.3. Criticism of the masses

The critical analysis of the mass of J. Baudrillard is drawn in the work "In the shadow of the silent majority, or the End of Social" (1982), where he noted some paradoxical inherent in the mass: it is both the object of the simulation and its subject. Masses, this silent majority, are a characteristic of our modernity. All our rational systems stumble about the mass. Mass, according to J. Baudrillard, has the property of radical uncertainty. In his opinion, the mass is a void-bound individual particles, fragments of a social, impenetrable nebula, the increasing density of which absorbs all the surrounding streams of energy and light rays in order to finally collapse under its own weight. A black hole, where the social is failing ". This phenomenon is highly implosive (from English implosion - an explosion directed inwards), absorbing, drawing in itself. The mass has neither an attribute, nor a predicate, nor a quality, nor a reference - this is precisely its certainty or radical uncertainty. It can be designated as an infinite sum of equivalent individuals - 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + ... Neither hysteria, nor potential fascism is the simulating of all lost reference systems going into the abyss. Masses make sense, and they crave a spectacle. The masses shy away from ideals in an incomprehensible way. Their inner need is in a counterstrategy, in the work of absorbing and destroying culture, knowledge, power, social. The masses are no longer the subject of history, and if earlier the authorities welcomed this situation, now it heralds the collapse of power. The silence of the masses is becoming the main problem of our time. Masses go to private life, and this is a kind of challenge to the political, a form of active resistance to political manipulation.

F. Baudrillard does not convince, he is more self-critical, including this himself: "In essence, we form the most real mass, most of the time in a state of uncontrolled fear or vague anxiety, on this or that side of sanity." Masses are permanently tested and probed (mainly through the so-called mass media): in this case, the ethical referent gave way to a referendum, and this is a simulation, not a representation. At the conclusion of this work J. Baudrillard calls into question the very existence of social, and if earlier, perhaps, it existed, now it is no more. This is the critical and self-critical pathos of this book.

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