maandag, februari 14, 2005


baudrillard / On the Murderous Capacity of Images

Thus perhaps at stake has always been the murderous capacity of images, murderers of the real, murderers of their own model, as the Byzantine icons could murder the divine identity. To this murderous capacity is opposed the dialectical capacity of representations as a visible and intelligible mediation of the Real. All of Western faith and good faith was engaged in this wager on representation: That a sign could refer to the depth of meaning, that a sign could exchange for meaning, and that something could guarantee this exchange---God, of course. But what if God himself can be simulated, that is to say, reduced to the signs which attest his existence? Then the whole system becomes weightless, it is no longer anything but a gigantic simulacrum---not unreal, but a simulacrum, never again exchanging for what is real, but exchanging in itself, in an uninterrupted circuit without reference or circumference.

So it is with simulation, insofar as it is opposed to representation. The latter starts from the principle that the sign and the real are equivalent (even if this equivalence is utopian, it is a fundamental axiom). Conversely, simulation starts from the utopia of this principle of equivalence, from the radical negation of the sign as value, from the sign as reversion and death sentence of every reference. Whereas representation tries to absorb simulation by interpreting it as false representation, simulation envelops the edifice of representation as itself a simulacrum. This would be the successive phases of the image:

• it is the reflection of a basic reality.
• it masks and perverts a basic reality.
• it masks the absence of a basic reality.
• it bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum.

---Jean Baudrillard, "The Evil Demon of Images and the Precession of Simulacra," in Thomas Docherty, ed., Postmodernism: A Reader (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1993) pp. 194 ff.

jean baudrillard is great. but the the problem that the simulacrum has become himself...

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