Jean Baudrillard, 20 June 1929 – 6 March 2007


"The objective profile of the United States, then, may be traced throughout Disneyland, even down to the morphology of individuals and the crowd. All its values are exalted here, in miniature and comic-strip form. Embalmed and pactfied. Whence the possibility of an ideological analysis of Disneyland (L. Marin does it well in Utopies, jeux d’espaces): digest of the American way of life, panegyric to American values, idealized transposition of a contradictory reality. To be sure. But this conceals something else, and that "ideological" blanket exactly serves to cover over a third-order simulation: Disneyland is there to conceal the fact that it is the "real" country, all of "real" America, which is Disneyland (just as prisons are there to conceal the fact that it is the social in its entirety, in its banal omnipresence, which is carceral). Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation. It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology), but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus of saving the reality principle."

Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations,in Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster (Stanford; Stanford University Press, 1988)

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6 thoughts on “Jean Baudrillard, 20 June 1929 – 6 March 2007

  1. Glad to see that Baudrillard liked a blanket 😉
    Actually the thought that triggered was enough to make me reach for my copy of this book from the shelf (where, it has to be said, it has spent 99.999% of its time) and look for the blanket analogy.
    There it was on the first page (I read that far at least):
    “… the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up covering the territory exactly (the decline of the Empire witness the fraying of this map. little by little, and its fall into ruins, though some shreds are discernible in the deserts…”
    Well I am a complete sucker for textile-related metaphors (as my Knitting a Convergence blog post attests) so I am looking at that blanket and wondering if we can se Baudrillard’s form with the blanket as mould, or if as the blanket frayed in antiquity he may be revealed beneath it.
    Chill, Josie. Who is paying for you to put Baudrillard ina consultant’s report 😉 ?

  2. (Frances hangs head in embarrassment) I have just realised that you posted this because he died today. The blanket on the chair is a very appropriate metaphor. Sorry for my inappropriate message.

  3. Upon reading this post it was not very clear this was a tribute to someone you obviously admire and respect. Bearing this in mind, I can understand that Frances’ comments were written in reaction to a posting that seem very much out of context from the normal milieu of SocialTech.
    Furthermore, I have never been exposed to “post-structuralist” thought and therefore have never come accross Baudrillard before. (I am a recovering Catholic alterboy who still believes in a Supreme Something – but has left the Catholic church after waking up and smelling the coffee.)
    Maybe your tribute to Baudrillard will inspire many to investigate who Baudrillard was and read his/her works. What better way to keep the memory of Baudrillard than to inspire others to remember and appreciate her/his contributions to society.

  4. Dave skyped me last night (i was upstairs, this is how we communicate from within the same house, yep) with the news.
    i have been wrapped up in a bit of a love/huh? relationship with the baffling Baudrillard since i first came across the simulacra definition that the quote you used parallels or stems from…that Main Street at Disneyland is realer than real America, that it has never existed and yet encapsulates all the nation believes itself to be and stands for better than any actual ‘real’ example. even if i don’t actually understand anything else he’s ever said, that’s been really useful to me.
    a great mind, and i’ll miss the idea of him. 🙂
    glad to have found your lovely tribute.

  5. Hey Frances – I think your first post was actually pretty apt. I love the idea of a map so precise that it fits the contours of the landscape it represents precisely.
    It also reminds me of that scene from Black Adder goes Fourth where Melchett tries to cheer George up by showing a life-size model (measuring seventeen square feet) of land recaptured by the British (“It’s superbly detailed – look, there’s a little worm’).
    Bon – I’ve got to admit that my relationship with Baudrillard has mainly been one of delight in the potential of theory to scramble brains, both my own and the poor undergrads that I’ve taught.

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