Alan N. Shapiro, Hypermodernism, Hyperreality, Posthumanism

Blog and project archive about media theory, science fiction theory, and creative coding

Baudrillard’s Importance for the Future

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This is an expanded version of the lecture that I gave (in French) at the colloquium on Baudrillard at the Cerisy-la-Salle cultural center in northwestern France in August 2019.

The Controversy Around Baudrillard

Baudrillard is highly controversial as a thinker. Over the course of time, his work has had as many detractors as it has had defenders and enthusiasts.1 Some of Baudrillard’s critics absurdly even accused him of celebrating the postmodern media-cultural condition of simulacra and semiotic signs becoming increasingly autonomous and detached from the “referents” of which they were supposed to be the representations.2 The popularized misreading of Baudrillard is that he diagnoses techno-culture as an Empire of Signs which has forfeited its connection to the real and has spun itself off aimlessly into a never-never land of meaningless funhouse simulations. Having thus been caricatured, Baudrillard is condemned as the pope of the takeover of reality by semiotic signs, or the solipsistic denier of the existence of an externally objective real. Baudrillard would be the David Bowie of philosophy, the king of the carnivalesque, the avant-garde prophet of cultural pessimism.3

The single most overriding reason that explains the animosity towards Baudrillard’s work is that he very often made statements along the lines of: Everything is virtual. Everything is simulation. Reality has disappeared (albeit through too much reality or as the culmination of the Western cultural and scientific concept of “reality” intensified into hyperreality). There is no distinction anymore between reality and its representation, and the vanishing of the gap between them is the state of simulation. These kinds of statements by Baudrillard infuriated many of his commentators.4

His detractors say: It cannot be that everything is simulation! Look at this table – it is real! If Baudrillard crosses the street without looking, he is going to get hit by a truck! The same as you and me!

Indulging for a moment in wrongheaded wishful thinking, one can entertain the thought that maybe it would have been better for his reputation if Baudrillard had said something like: There is a definite tendency for things to become more and more virtual. There is a strong trend for the percentage of what is real to decrease and the portion of what is virtual to increase. These would have been “respectable” and accurate empirical statements and good “predictions.”

As someone who believes in the extreme importance of Baudrillard’s work, one is tempted by the thought: if only he had expressed his key concepts more empirically and in a less absolutist way, then he would not have been so harshly and often attacked! There would have been more appreciation for the value of his insights!

But wait – this thought is not correct at all! To wish for that would amount to making Baudrillard into an idiot. I think that he was not an idiot, and it is in fact very valuable to think instead about WHY did he say that “everything is simulation”? Why does he say this? What is the significance of him saying that everything is virtual? Rather than shy away from what appears to be an extreme and even ridiculous claim, I embrace the declaration and seek to explain why it is important.

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 overwhelmingly dominant position of leftist intellectuals (for example: Marxists, humanists, and even some celebrated Deleuzian “post-humanists” like Rosi Braidotti) is that the challenge to virtuality comes from the identity or growing consciousness of certain identified groups of human subjects who are oppressed by what is conceived of as the latest phase in the cognitive mapping of the stages of capitalism.5

Yes – Everything is Simulation!

Looked at in one way, Baudrillard’s claim about the whole world being/becoming a simulation is obviously false. Looked at in another way, the hypothesis makes sense and is valid. From the standpoint of an empirical sociology or a scientific methodology that evaluates statements measured against how things “really are” in the world, such pronouncements are incorrect. The human body still exists. There are still trees. A certain fact took place. The neo-Marxist or Frankfurt School “critical theory of society” believes that its object of inquiry – for example, ideology or “enlightenment as mass deception” – is mendacious or counterfeit.6 Those who have been duped by false consciousness or media manipulation or some set of cult beliefs are still susceptible to being brought back to the real or to the truth. Critical theory is suspicious of the principle of the simulacrum, the assertion of which would seem to imply that the participants are hopelessly lost in the chimerical flourishes and imaginary phantasmagoria of perceptual appearances and discursive effects.7

But evaluated in another way, as science fiction theory, Baudrillard is working with an “ideal type” (a term of the founder of German sociology Max Weber) of a scenario of a future society in whose direction we have been headed for a long time, and towards which we are surely headed even more.8

I will further argue that, after having asserted the prerequisite or first principle that “everything is simulation” (an alternative to the first principle of natural science that the mission of the scientist is to investigate “the true nature of reality”), Baudrillard went on to name and conceptualize a whole series of new locations and possibilities for challenges to the simulacrum. I seek to enumerate those sites of contestation. In the absence of lending oneself to acceptance of that first principle, it would not be possible to see beyond the horizon of received ideas to this new field of research and exploration. I will additionally argue that many visual and textual science fiction narratives bring to visibility and into focus these arenas of challenge to the simulacrum. In the genre of science fiction stories, of course, it is allowed to posit a “fictional” scenario in which “everything is simulation.” Both empirical social science and the Marxist view that what we are living in can be named as “capitalism” of course do not allow this.

My argument is that certain ideas can be elicited from Baudrillard which contribute to a “science fiction theory” which identifies what we are living in not as “capitalism” but rather as a science fiction world. Then it will be a question of how can that science fiction world be contested, reversed, or transformed. I call this object of inquiry the trapdoor, escape hatch, or secret way out of simulation and hyperreality.

If only Baudrillard would just call what he is doing fiction and practice it as fiction! Why must he insist on bringing science fiction into cultural theory? He has the audacity to try something new and different? N. Katherine Hayles (in what she wrote about Baudrillard in the prestigious academic journal Science Fiction Studies in a contribution which she entitled “The Borders of Madness.”9) would like Baudrillard to openly acknowledge that his texts are fictional. Science fiction should be a warning and is not a serious mode of thinking. Baudrillard, according to Hayles, fails to describe empirically the implosion into simulation but rather enacts that event himself. Hayles regards this as dangerous. She compares it to a powerful drug. Baudrillard represents, for her, an apocalyptic madness. What she does not see is that his theory is opening the “doors of perception” to the ways to resist and change the simulacrum.10

Early Baudrillard: The System of Objects, The Consumer Society, and The Political Economy of the Sign

The spectacle itself has become the main thing that the contemporary society and economy produce. Consumer objects, architectural ambiences, and media artefacts all primarily have an abstract semiotic and signifying function. In “the system of objects,” the physicality and definite location of objects gets subordinated to their participation in the “perfect circulation of messages.”11 The intercommunication and relationality of sign-objects to each other takes precedence over the specificity of each. All objects and media content enter an equivalence through their common belonging to the universal self-congratulatory communication system.

Publicity for a specific product is rarely successful – but this is not advertising’s true purpose. Its function is the promotion of the entire system. Although “we may be getting better and better at resisting advertising in the imperative,” writes Baudrillard in The System of Objects, “we are at the same time becoming ever more susceptible to advertising in the indicative. Without ‘believing’ in the product, therefore, we believe in the advertising that tries to get us to believe in it.”12 Each product ad refers not only to the individual product that it is allegedly informing us about – it also refers to itself as ad, endorsing the wonder of advertising per se. Through the spectacular celebration or radical visibility of a single object or brand, it is the totality of objects and a universe made complete by brands that is promoted. In speaking of one single consumer object, advertising virtually glorifies all spectacle objects and media images. Consumer society does not satisfy so-called needs (a concept of the abstract universal humanist economic model) but is rather a manipulation of signs.13 To become a consumer object or media message, the entity must first enter the universal sign-system.

The postmodern recombinant culture of cyber-commodities is a system of simulated differences or differences-in-sameness.14 The sign-object takes on its meaning in a system of marginal or minimal differences from other sign-objects, according to a code of hierarchical significations (Coke and Pepsi, McDonalds and Burger King, the subset of formula-generated episodes of a TV series or pop-cult movie franchise which are mediocre).15 The sign-object acquires sense from its differential relationship to other signs. As Marshall McLuhan points out, the media is the message.16 In this case, the media of equivalence and universal exchangeability makes “the code” become the primary quality of all sign-objects. This insight is an extension of what Karl Marx had already recognized in his analysis of the universal exchangeability system that is called money and the system of equivalence of exchange-value which, according to Marx, diminishes the use-value of everything made under capitalism.17

In The Consumer Society, Baudrillard considers the fate of the over-socialized body in the consumer realm. The body must be managed, routinized, enhanced – it is a supreme signifier of status and cultural citizenship. Beneath the aura of “personal care” and “sexual liberation” is the body as a work of investment. We visit beauty and skin care salons; get a face lift, an abdominal tightening, or a chin reprofiling, have our eyelids “corrected.” We visit a tanning center, a cosmetic surgery center, pass ourselves through a computerized body composition test. Consumer society sells us alcohol, cigarettes, and fast cars but “use them at your own risk.” The body has substituted itself for the soul as the “object of salvation.”18 The “myth of bodily pleasure” serves a similar moral and ideological function to the salvation of the soul in Christian theology. In Christianity, salvation is attained through conversion, purification, faith in Christ as the savior, and the resolution of earthly conflict in a happy afterlife. Consumer culture, filling in the gap of the disappeared “social,” promotes a similar belief that salvation is a private affair, to be pursued via the micro-codes of wellness and self-adornment. The narcissistic possessive individualism of citizenship in consumer society confers on us our “rights” – the right to health and fitness, the right to be sexy and to be looked at, the right to narrative “answers,” the right to declare one’s own fandom of a team, a celebrity, a vacation destination, or a pedigree of dog.

Baudrillard’s third book of 1972 was called For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign. Here he outlines his theoretical program of making a synthesis of Marxian political economy and a semiotic analysis of the language-like sign system of the cultural dimension of late capitalist society. Most Marxists had previously considered the cultural dimension to be the mere derivative superstructure of the determining instance of the economy and the relations of production.19 In Baudrillard’s For a Critique, Karl Marx’s political-economic theory of the commodity-form of exchange value in early production capitalism gets merged – and in a critical way – with a radicalization of Ferdinand de Saussure’s linguistic semiotics in an original fusion critique of the sign-form in late consumer capitalism.

Baudrillard articulates the homology between Saussure’s linguistic sign and Marx’s commodity form. This unified political economy of the sign or analysis of the commodity-slash-sign form equals what Baudrillard calls the code. The real, the lived, the myth of an objective reality – they all become justifications or “alibis” keeping us from seeing the dominance of the simulation models. These so-called realities are “reality effects” (derived from the cinematic term “special effects”). To change registers slightly as an example, the signifier of the greatness of consumer culture or “America’s prosperity” stands in for the concrete singularities of objects. The code of signifiers substitutes for references in the process of simulation. We live in the democracy of standards of living and signs of affluence – the republic of the automobile, the cheeseburger, the personal computer, and the home entertainment system. Happiness is the accumulation of signs of happiness.

In the essay “Requiem for the Media” in Political Economy of the Sign, Baudrillard writes about “speech without response.”20 In classical groundbreaking texts of Western civilization such as Plato’s The Sophist in ancient Greece and John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty in the nineteenth century, great thinkers made the practice of alternating questioning and answering essential to the notion of arriving at truths in democracy, science, and human affairs.21 In the media culture, the continuous exchange of questions and answers revered by those philosophers has been deformed into the format of the yes-or-no referendum or speech without response. For Plato and Mill, truth was not about facts but rather about the process of inquiry. Truth was to be separated from falsehood in a dialogical engagement. Today anything resembling the Socratic method is short-circuited. The question insists with an authoritarian tone on hearing a specific anticipated answer, or the answer is pre-given in the question. The participation of the citizen is limited to a yes or no.

Symbolic Exchange and the Gift Economy

To use-value (the mythical justification or alibi of capitalist or “bourgeois” economics which even Marx naively subscribed to), exchange-value (Marx), and sign-value (Saussure), Baudrillard opposes what he calls “symbolic exchange,” of which the circulation of gifts and counter-gifts in the non-Western societies studied by ethnologists is the closest illustration or allegory.22 The non-exchangeability or non-comparability of the gift is “other” to the market exchanges founded on supply and demand and to cybernetic capitalism. Like the simulacrum, the symbolic (also known in Baudrillard’s system as seduction or taking the side of objects), can disappear and reappear in many venues and guises, as I shall later explore.

Knowing neither scarcity nor needs (two essential concepts of capitalist economic theory), the members of certain so-called “primitive” societies who hunted and gathered “at leisure” lived in veritable abundance. Baudrillard references the studies by Marcel Mauss (The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies), Georges Bataille (The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy), and Marshall Sahlins (Stone Age Economics) as scholarly and philosophical inspirations for a general theorization of the symbolic to understand human societies.23 According to the noted anthropologist Sahlins, our modern capitalist society of permanent economic growth is the opposite of a veritable society of abundance. Sahlins begins his essay “The Original Affluent Society” with this devastating comment:

“Hunter-gatherers consume less energy per capita per year than any other group of human beings. Yet when you come to examine it, the original affluent society was none other than the hunter’s – in which all the people’s material wants were easily satisfied. To accept that hunters are affluent is therefore to recognize that the present human condition of man slaving to bridge the gap between his unlimited wants and his insufficient means is a tragedy of modern times.”24

The hunter-gatherers are so confident that their habitual activities of providing for themselves in proximity to nature will yield continuous sustenance that they practice prodigality – they often consume all at once everything which they have amassed. This is the collective ritual that Marcel Mauss in The Gift called the potlatch, the gift-giving feast, the primary exchange system, the system of “total prestations.”25 The hunter-gatherers work in the production and preparation of food only about four hours a day. They have little sense of property or material possessions. They are nomadic – requiring constant physical movement to maintain their trust in the abundance of nature’s resources.26 They have a surprisingly varied food diet and are adept at making usable products from plentiful materials which are conveniently at hand: wood, stone, grass, fibers, animal skins, and bones. The hunter-gather of the veritable society of abundance works intermittently or only when necessary. As Sahlins writes, their combination of “mobility and moderation put hunters’ ends within range of their technical means. An undeveloped mode of production is thus rendered highly effective.”27

In our own times, the rationalist critique of the ecological destructiveness of the economy of limitless growth does not persuade the citizenry to become critics of capitalism. The discourse of the media does not mention capitalism as the root cause of the global warming and climate change crisis.

The typology of kinds of value in capitalism and in positive visions of post-capitalism, posthumanism, and the post-scarcity economy is a major contribution to cultural theory. Baudrillard identifies four categories of value-making processes: use-value, exchange-value, sign-value, and symbolic exchange (symbolic-value). There is the functional or utilitarian logic of use-value. There is the economic or money-equivalency logic of exchange-value (all objects lose their singularity and are rendered interchangeable in and by the universal cash nexus). There is the semiotic or differential logic of sign-value. All three of these orders of value exist simultaneously in capitalism. The appearance of one of them does not render the previous ones obsolete. Then there is the directly relational (non-)logic of ambivalence or symbolic value. “In consumerism generally,” writes Baudrillard, “economic exchange-value (money) is converted into sign-exchange-value (prestige, etc.); but this operation is still sustained by the alibi of use-value [the instrumental purpose of an object].”28 In simulation-consumer culture, there takes place a reduction or simplification of symbolic-value into sign-value, a transfiguration or cooptation of something deeply humanly meaningful into a mere aesthetic performance. Writing in his science fiction theory mode of discourse, Baudrillard implies that social relations of symbolic exchange, which extend beyond the dialectics of the other three ideal types of value, will emerge in a post-capitalist future (see, for example, the recent works of Paul Mason or Yanis Varoufakis).29

What are the historical or genealogical phases of the simulacrum that Baudrillard describes, and which have heuristic value for him? His main attempts to elaborate a succession of paradigms of simulacra are in the 1981 essay “The Precession of Simulacra” and in the section of Symbolic Exchange and Death (1976) called “The Three Orders of Simulacra.”30 In the sections that follow, I base my explanations of the first three orders of simulacra on a synthesis reading of both texts.

The First Order of Simulacra: The Student of Prague

Baudrillard ends his 1970 book The Consumer Society with his consideration of the 1913 German expressionist film – which can be regarded as a science fiction film – The Student of Prague.31 Baudrillard interprets The Student of Prague as a parable of the loss of the salutary self who previously was mediated in a healthy way by others, and its replacement by an endlessly self-referential narcissistic self, in the simulation-consumer society. The other-less “postmodern” individual is left standing face-to-face with only himself. The Student of Prague tells the story of a poor but ambitious student named Balduin who is impatient for a more prosperous life. The student sells his mirror-image to the devil (the sorcerer Scapinelli) in exchange for worldly success (one hundred thousand pieces of gold). The student signs a contract that authorizes the devil to take anything that he wants from the student’s room as symbolic payment for the many coins and bank notes. Balduin signs eagerly because he assumes that he possesses nothing of value. The demon then removes the student’s image from the full-length mirror. When he loses his shadow-self in the pact with the devil, the protagonist of the film takes the first step towards losing his life. His mirror-image takes revenge on him for having sold him. Everywhere the student goes, the now-incarnate double has been there before and has wreaked havoc in the interactions of the life of his “original.” Attempting to put an end to the double’s mischief, Balduin finally shoots him but then dies himself.

The genre of the story of the double in classical nineteenth century European literature (in Dostoevsky, for example) reveals something about what Baudrillard means by the first order of simulacra. It relates to the double, the mirror-image, the shadow, the theatre, and games of masks and appearances. Contemplating the historical sweep from the Renaissance to the First Industrial Revolution, Baudrillard establishes the genealogical ideal type of what he calls “the natural law of value” and the principle of equivalence of use-value. He connects this with Plato’s idea of the simulacrum, where the image is taken as a closely knit coupled reflection and betrayal of an allegedly profound reality. In the first order of simulacra, there is still something like a “real.” Postmodern simulation or the third order of simulacra, however, is not a “break” with or “loss” of some previous “reality,” as many commentators who mischaracterize Baudrillard (and many contemporary cultural critics in their own assessments of cyber-culture) would have it.32 For Baudrillard, postmodern simulation is a consequence of, and a continuity with, what was always the concept of “reality” in Western philosophy, science, and culture. So-called “reality” was always a simulation model.

In describing the first order of simulacra, Baudrillard refers to stucco, the baroque, and trompe-l’oeil. He mentions prominently the architectural and interior decoration material stucco. Stucco means plaster in Italian. It is understood by Baudrillard as being a substance which symbolizes a first transformation of nature into a universal or “general equivalent” synthetic material. Signs are exchanged through the medium of a universal element. Stucco is an example of the baroque, which was a highly detailed and extravagant style that spread to many different arts in seventeenth century Europe. Stucco imitates nature via form and mirroring. The trompe-l’oeil or perspectival space was a technique in art and architecture that created the optical illusion of a three-dimensional object or scene. The appeal of both stucco and trompe-l’oeil resides in their resemblance to yet difference from the real or the world which they aestheticize. Baudrillard calls the first order of simulacra the mode of the counterfeiting of the world: along with the advancement of the concept of “nature,” the false is born.33

The Second Order of Simulacra: The First Industrial Revolution

The second order of simulacra is associated by Baudrillard with the First Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. However, the second order also seems to include the mid-twentieth century technological-economic developments of the invention of the factory assembly line known as Fordism, and the theory and practice of “scientific management” – or fragmentation and control of all work processes under capitalism – known as Taylorism. The second order of simulacra is the genealogical ideal type of “the market law of value” and the principle of interchangeability of exchange-value. The dominant scheme of the First Industrial Revolution is production. The framework of the creation of originals is abolished in favor of the production of the infinite series of effectively identical objects and, in a subsequent step, cultural artefacts.

Baudrillard connects the second order with Karl Marx’s idea of the fetishism of commodities – the image masks and denatures a profound reality.34 As Walter Benjamin asserted in his famous 1935 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility,” the aura of the artwork (associated with a specific time and place) disappears in favor of the mechanically reproduced copy and the system of equivalence, implemented with the media technologies of photography, film, and sound recording.35 Objects are not so much reproduced as they come to be conceived and made with their reproducibility in mind. Compared with the first order, there is already a loss of the difference between original and copy, or between the sign and that which the sign represents. Seriality yields arrays of duplicate objects without originals.

The Third Order of Simulacra: Simulation and Hyperreality

The third order of simulacra in Baudrillard’s genealogy is also known as simulation: the system of objects, the consumer society, the system of models and series, simulated differences generated by the code, the “structural law of value,” the post-World War II era of media, shopping mall architectures, and the American way of life.36 The third order – somewhat harkening back to the first order – speaks again of the real, now become hyperreal, more real than real, the simulated real. Baudrillard here speaks with Nietzsche – the image masks the absence of a profound reality.37 Baudrillard sees the genetic code and the digital code of informatics as being the most accomplished manifestations of the third order of simulacra.38 In the pre-digital consumer society, cultural citizens were already locked into a system of the smallest discrete identities and differences that resembles the later logic of informatic programming. Digitalization is a universal media of equivalence that extends previous similar media such as money. Not only does so-called reality disappear behind the signs of reality, but the entire system of simulation dedicates itself to the generation of “reality effects” or the minute reduplication of the real.

Baudrillard came from a Marxist background himself and worked through the discourses of political economy and critical social theory.37 Although his idea has by and large not succeeded in persuading Marxists to pay attention to it, Baudrillard’s argument is that contemporary society – or postmodern capitalism, if one will – should be understood not as a supervening “mode of production” but rather as a total cultural system of coded signs that refer to other coded signs, a world of simulation and virtuality where all experiences are possible (virtual in both meanings of that word) due to the universal combinatorics of software code. Anything that can potentially happen can be programmed into being. Codes, models, cybernetic feedback loops, statistical prediction, and algorithms now organize everything of what was previously called social life or existence.

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.

Seduction is the difference between the original and the copy which simulation seeks to suppress in its attempt to represent or institute reality-becoming-hyperreality. In the hyperreality of the media culture of images, there is an overflow of images, a sort of ubiquitous transparency, a universal visibility of everything or generalized pornography where nothing is left hidden and there are no more secrets. There is no longer any imaginary dimension separate from the real. With the unlimited production of images, the world ultimately becomes an image. Nothing remains of the world. The definition of the real in the era of third-order simulacra is that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction. There is a hallucinating resemblance of the real to itself. Then how can one speak of the real when all is simulation? How can one speak of simulation when there is nothing outside it, no exempted location from which one may observe it, only an “outside” which initially exists on simulation’s own terms?39

At the beginning of “The Precession of Simulacra” in Simulacra and Simulation, Baudrillard refers to the fable “On Exactitude in Science” by the Argentinian writer Jorge Louis Borges which speaks of the cartographers of the Empire who “draw up a map so detailed that it ends up covering the territory exactly.”40 There is an inter-textual relationship between these lines and the title of the 2010 novel La Carte et le Territoire by the French novelist Michel Houellebecq.41 Yet the Borges allegory of simulation resonates today only with the discrete charm of second-order simulacra. When the map covers the whole territory, the reality principle vanishes. In the third order of simulacra, it is the map that precedes and engenders the territory. Only vestiges of the real persist here and there. Baudrillard writes: “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 hyper-real.”42 The model precedes the territory. The map precedes the real.

The assumption that the widespread creation of models of reality is going to leave physical reality as it is – is naïve. Models are not only tools for assisting the real; they act upon the real, they transform the real, they become themselves a major part of the real. Welcome to the desert of the real as Baudrillard phrases it, a line which the Wachowski siblings, who wanted to honor Baudrillard’s media theory, had Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) repeat to Neo (Keanu Reeves) in the original Matrix film while explaining to him what happened to the world at the end of the twentieth century. “The real is produced from miniaturized cells, matrices, and memory banks,” writes Baudrillard.43

Baudrillard’s most famous example of hyperreality and simulation presented in Simulacra and Simulation is what he writes about Disneyland:

“Disneyland exists to hide that it is the ‘real’ country, all ‘real’ America that is Disneyland (a bit like prisons exist to hide that it is the social in its entirety, in its banal omnipresence, that is carceral). Disneyland is presented as imaginary to make up believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal order and to the order of simulation… The imaginary of Disneyland is neither true nor false, it is a deterrence machine set up to rejuvenate the fiction of the real.”44

First-Wave Digitalization as Interactive Performance

In the 1987 book The Ecstasy of Communication, Baudrillard characterizes the era of digital media and online technologies as an interactive performance where the individual stationed at his computer becomes a self-managing and self-surveilling node of a relay switching network, micro-administering his own little world of operations and desires. “Today one’s private living space is conceived of as a receiving and operating area, as a monitoring screen endowed with telematic power, that is to say, with the capacity to regulate everything by remote control.”45 There is a disappearance of both private and public space. “The most intimate operation of your life becomes the potential grazing ground of the media.”46 We live in the time of the categorical imperative of communication, the perpetual interconnection of all information where the human user becomes himself a screen and a network terminal.

There is no private anymore. There is no public anymore. I sit at my computer in my apartment and skype and facebook and instagram tell me when everyone I know comes online or goes offline. These other people are sitting at my computer with me. When I listen in the train to someone else’s personal or business conversation that they are conducting on their cell phone, I am effectively sitting in their bedroom or living room or office. It can no longer be explained with private and public. We need new cultural theory terms to grasp this new situation. There is no public space anymore – although architects, urban designers, and street artists continue to speak of it. We should speak about the simulacra of public space.

From Descartes to Baudrillard: The Evil Demon of Images

There is a diabolical seduction of images. According to Baudrillard, images seduce the participants of image culture away from so-called reality, but they do so paradoxically through their claimed fidelity to reality or their high-resolution realistic copying of it. Unlike René Descartes, Baudrillard does not regard his evil demon (of images) with fear and trepidation. The superficial reading of Baudrillard is that he finds digital and virtual images to be a betrayal of reality. But a closer reading reveals that it is, in his view, their self-proclaimed function of the reduplication of reality which make images dubious. They are not an evil demon of betrayal of what they allegedly stand in for but are rather an evil demon of conformity. The danger of the culture of images as it is constituted in the mainstream is not due to images being the enemy of the real. It is, on the contrary, the wrong idea of what is the real that is widespread in media and digital culture that is the root of the problem. The view that the role and purpose of images is to closely resemble and conform to what the architects of the image culture take to be reality is what is diabolical. Yet this evil is not the enemy – as it was for Descartes in his rationalist thought experiment – because its ethics can be transfigured through a paradigm shift.

In the thought experiment of the first of his Meditations on First Philosophy, published in Latin in 1641 and in French in 1647, René Descartes – considered to be one of the principal founders of modern philosophy – conjures up the imaginary possibility of the existence of an evil demon who might be deceiving me (or Descartes) into believing that reality exists, that there is a reality. It is possible that there is no reality as I have until now assumed it to be.47 The world and reality might not exist, and I (Descartes) might not exist. This might all be a dream. The contemplation of the evil demon is one of several methods practiced by Descartes in what is known as Cartesian systematic doubt. The evil demon has possibly cooked up a total illusion of a world external to my mind. Descartes writes:

“[With] utmost power and cunning [he] has employed all his energies to deceive me… I shall think that the sky, the air, the earth, colors, shapes, sounds and all external things are merely the delusions of dreams which he has devised to ensnare my judgment. I shall consider myself as not having hands or eyes, or flesh, or blood or senses, but as falsely believing that I have all these things.”48

Descartes battles against the evil demon with rationalism and humanism (with a logical-scientific philosophy). He apparently wins the battle. He establishes his strength of mind and his thinking identity, founding his first principles of certainty against the cunning of the evil demon: “Dubito ergo cogito. Cogito ergo sum.” “Because I doubt, I think. I think, therefore I am.”49 I think, and animals and the world do not think. I exist. What I call reality exists. Reality is objectively there. Scientific rationality wins out against its other – the other of superstition, uncertainty, hallucination, confusion, mistrust, deception, evil, irrationality, and the world.

Baudrillard gave a lecture in Sydney, Australia in 1984 entitled “The Evil Demon of Images” (available in the book The Evil Demon of Images)50 During an interview conducted by three Australian scholars shortly after this lecture, Baudrillard explained his deconstruction of Descartes. For Baudrillard, Descartes and his evil demon belong to one single system. It is Descartes himself who produces the dual structure of rationality versus demon. The positing of the evil demon is, from the beginning, an effect of Descartes’ rationalism. He sets about solving a problem which was only a problem in the first place due to his own stance. He treats reality as his toy project. Descartes believes himself to be the human subject of knowledge and discourse. His doubt and his rationality are two sides of the same coin. Descartes has a specific, and possibly mistaken, understanding of what reality is. He operates with a binary opposition of reality and doubt. For Baudrillard, the world is not like that. The world is a “radical illusion.” It is a fundamental antagonism. The world is the evil demon. This “vital illusion” of the world is “a play upon reality or a mise en jeu of the real… the issuing of a challenge to the real.”51 We must dwell in this uncertainty and indeterminacy, and not seek to suppress or overcome it artificially with the insistence of the scientific knowing subject who demands the rationality (and – later, in the twenty-first century – literal numeric digital coding) of the real.

As the insightful Australian commentator on Baudrillard Rex Butler points out:

“The absolute doubt that simulation plunges the analyst into is like that of the evil demon for Descartes, where any reflection upon the problem might be reflection of the problem… where any naming of the evil demon might only be a product of the evil demon itself.”52

No wonder that proponents of neo-Marxist critical theory sociology and other “anti-capitalist” orientations on the philosophical-political left who assume that they stand on a secure epistemological grounding from which they can speak “outside” of “the system” feel so threatened by the assertions of Baudrillard! It is the major achievement of Baudrillard that he stared directly into the eyes of the paradoxical Medusa of simulation and indeed theorized how to challenge the simulacra in new and multiple ways.

Arthur C. Clarke, “The Nine Billion Names of God”

A science fiction story that Baudrillard cites many times throughout his work is “The Nine Billion Names of God” by Arthur C. Clarke.53 Clarke was, of course, the author of the script of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, arguably the greatest science fiction film of all time. In “The Nine Billion Names of God,” a group of reclusive Tibetan monks who live high in the mountains are engaged in the endless task called for by their Buddhist spiritual beliefs of inscribing in writing the alleged nine billion names of God. According to their prophesy, the completion of this monumental effort will be followed by the extinguishing of the world. The monks grow weary of their arduous work and decide to hire a group of IBM technicians to computerize the process. After working in the mountain village for a few months and completing the job, the IBM consultants make haste to decamp quickly, not wanting to be around when, according to their view, the monks will experience the disappointment of the non-fulfillment of their prophesy of the end of the world. The technicians descend the slope back to civilization, only to witness in the night sky above the stars going out one by one.

Baudrillard interprets the story as that the technicians have “launched the code of the world’s disappearance by exhausting all its possibilities… There is not enough room in the universe for God and for the names of God… no place for both the world and its double.”54

“When the virtual operation of the world is finished, when all the names of God have been spelled out – which is the same basic fantasy as the declination of the human genome or the worldwide declination of all data and information [the Internet] – then we too shall see the stars fading away.”55

In his advocacy of poetic language and in his discussion of Saussure’s anagrams in the last part of Symbolic Exchange and Death, Baudrillard presents an idea about language, and potentially about software code, which is the opposite of code as understood by the IBM technicians.56

The important point about “The Nine Billion Names of God” is not that the spiritual worldview of the Buddhist monks wins out over the scientific worldview of the IBM technicians, as many Baudrillard commentators have repeated.57 The crucial point is that the practice and goal of informatics code as understood by mainstream computer science is the exact opposite of the poetic, anagrammatic, and deconstructionist understanding of language that Baudrillard elaborates in the chapter “The Extermination of the Name of God” in Symbolic Exchange and Death.58 Writing and poetry “aim at a total resolution,” he writes, “that resolution indeed of the rigorous dispersal of the name of God.”59 Perhaps software code is the writing of the twenty-first century, and our task would be to anagrammatize it in the sense of Baudrillard (or to “grammatologize” it in the sense of Jacques Derrida).60 This would be the insurrection of poetic code against its own laws of value. Like Derrida’s différance (with an a)61, which means both to differ and to defer, the anagram is a dispersal and a postponement, a radical détournement (the Situationist practice) of the digital-informatic mode of signification.

The Trapdoor Escape Hatch Way Out of Hyperreality

In his later works, Baudrillard says that VR is beyond all simulacra.62 He speaks of the new elusive stakes for humanity in what may possibly appear after the virtual. This is the trapdoor escape hatch way out of hyperreality. A trapdoor is a small sliding or hinged door that, in stories, often leads to a secret passageway or tunnel, allowing the protagonist a dynamic movement or change in location that affords a sudden improvement in outlook. The escape hatch evokes a means to break free in an emergency, a ready way out from a difficult situation. Physical escape hatches exist in submarines and aircraft. Radical uncertainty (in quantum physics, for example) is the event horizon of our times where Baudrillard sees hope. In “The Question Concerning Technology,” the philosopher Martin Heidegger saw modern technology as culminating in metaphysics (or Western metaphysics culminating in technology).63 In The Perfect Crime (1995), Baudrillard writes that we must come to a deeper understanding of the essence of technology than that of Heidegger. We must consider science and technology ironically, beyond the laws of physics and metaphysics, deploying the pataphysical science of imaginary solutions.64 “If it were possible, one would transform technology from within.”65

Baudrillard was not active enough in learning about informatics to flesh out the poetic and anagrammatic software code that might match this hope. Yet his masterful theory of poetic language as laid out in Symbolic Exchange and Death can be connected to the project of a deconstructionist or transformative software poetics within the Creative Coding movement.66 In his 2005 interview with Chronic’art, Baudrillard says:

“Perhaps there are some who can penetrate the cracks in this cybernetic universe?… I do not know the internal rules of the game for this world, and I do not have the means to play it. This is not a philosophical or moral disavowal or prejudice on my part… I am situated somewhere else, and I cannot do otherwise… maybe a new space-time domain for thought is now opening?”67

 Baudrillard likes how hyper-modern technology has put an end to the old humanist values of the cultural establishment. Perhaps technology will become so advanced that it will liberate us from technology (as in the film Star Trek: Insurrection). In the essay “Beyond Artificial Intelligence: Radicality of Thought” in the 1999 book Impossible Exchange, he discusses a benign potential within the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies of Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence, one that hints at a new freedom. He writes: “We have to revise our judgement of this ‘alienating’ technology which our critical philosophy spends its whole time denouncing.”68 He defines the conditions for an alternative philosophical informatics which goes beyond the notion of intelligence to that of thinking. Thought is enabled by the existence of “the other.” Thought is a “seducing” rhetoric of forms, illusions, appearances, and paradoxes.

Poetic Resolution in Baudrillard’s Thought

In our civilization which is on its way to destroying the world, there are no limits to production, consumption, and signification. These economic-semiotic total social facts (see the founder of French sociology Emile Durkheim69) are embedded in our region of historicity as endless processes of so-called “growth.”70 People want to produce, consume, and signify more. To challenge these principles, what become crucial for Baudrillard are the phenomena of ambivalence and resolution in poetic language. “In the logic of ambivalence,” he writes in the crucial chapter “The Poetic as the Extermination of Value” of his magnum opus Symbolic Exchange and Death, “there is a process of the resolution of the sign.”71

Baudrillard writes: “A good poem is one where nothing is left over, where all the phonemic material in use is consumed.”72 The poem puts into play “a strictly limited and distributed corpus” and “undertakes to reach the end of it.”73 Poetic language is the enjoyment or intensity that deconstructs the semiotic regime of the endless blah-blah (and image-pornographic) generation of value from language (and pictures) in the rhetorical (and visual) media culture of postmodern capitalism.74 The recombinant capitalist order of things puts into play a discursive corpus with no end in sight and not the slightest concern for resolution or settlement. The mode of production analyzed by Karl Marx in nineteenth century industrial capitalism expands to the mode of signification and information and the categorical imperative of communication as language gets mobilized for the interminable fabrication of meaning, language having become “an all-purpose medium of an inexhaustible nature.”75 Values associated with language get endlessly produced, accumulated, and distributed.

But “the poetic is the insurrection of language against its own laws.”76 As opposed to the signifying process which goes on forever, the logic of the poem is a rigorous unfolding of its own immanent possibilities, leading to a resolution or an endgame where nothing remains. Baudrillard writes: “In poetry, a vowel, a consonant or a syllable cannot be uttered without being doubled, that is to say, somehow exorcised, without fulfilling itself in the repetition that cancels it.”77 The ambiguity, music-like resonance, sound symbolism, alliteration, metonymy, and rhyme of poetic diction all suggest the differential play of words in their multi-layered subtleties. These rhythmic qualities, aesthetic forms, and stylistic elements evoke emotions and lead to the “cyclical resolution of the material… The poet sets the phonemic material provided by the theme-word to work. One (or several) verse(s) contain(s) anagrams of a single word by being constrained to reproduce itself, especially in a vocal rendition.”78

Poetry is symbolic exchange at the micro level of detail of the anti-code. “The poetic is the restitution of symbolic exchange in the very heart of words,” writes Baudrillard.79 Poetry is an anarchist or autonomist articulation: the authority of meaning is smashed. The symbolic exchange of the constituents of the poem responding to each other in superficial and playful interaction is set free. Baudrillard summons poetics as the deconstruction of the three laws of value laid out in The Political Economy of the Sign: use-value, exchange-value, and sign-value in cybernetic capitalism. As opposed to our hegemonic signifying systems, with their logic of equivalence and simulated differences which go on and on ad infinitum with their material and cultural production, Baudrillard seeks a poetic expression which arrives at resolution.


1 – Examples of detractors: Douglas Kellner, Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond (Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 1989); Christopher Norris, What’s Wrong with Postmodernism? (London: Prentice-Hall, 1990); Alex Callinicos, Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990); Andrew Ross, “Baudrillard’s Bad Attitude,” in D. Hunter, ed., Seduction and Theory (Urbana IL: University of Illinois Press, 1989; pp.214-225). Examples of defenders and enthusiasts: Rex Butler, Jean Baudrillard: In Defense of the Real (London: Sage, 1999); Nicholas Zurbrugg, ed., Jean Baudrillard: Art and Artefact (London: Sage, 1997); Gerry Coulter, Jean Baudrillard: From the Ocean to the Desert, or the Poetics of Radicality (Skyland NC: Inter-Theory, 2011); Kim Toffoletti, Baudrillard Reframed (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011); Mike Gane, Baudrillard: Critical and Fatal Theory (London: Routledge, 1991).

2 – Robert Hughes, “The Patron Saint of Neo-Pop,” in New York Review of Books, June 1, 1989; Christopher Norris, “Baudrillard and the War that Never Happened,” in Uncritical Theory: Postmodernism, Intellectuals, and the Gulf War (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1992).

3 – David Bowie of philosophy: Steven Poole, “Meet the David Bowie of Philosophy,” in The Guardian, March 14, 2000; king of the carnivalesque: Douglas Kellner, Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond; p.93; avant-garde prophet of cultural pessimism: Raymond Bellour, “The Double Helix,” in Timothy Druckrey, ed., Electronic Culture: Technology and Visual Representation (New York Aperture, 1996); p.199.

4 – Sara Schoonmaker, “Capitalism and the Code: A Critique of Baudrillard,” in Douglas Kellner, ed., Baudrillard: A Critical Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994); Sadie Plant, The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age (Routledge, 2002).

5 – Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman (Cambridge UK: Polity Press, 2013). An attempt to bring together Baudrillard and Deleuze, with an appreciation of both thinkers, yet within the framework of Marxist-based science fiction studies, is Sean McQueen, Baudrillard and Deleuze: From Cyberpunk to Biopunk (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). In his cognitive mapping of the stages of capitalism, McQueen sees Baudrillard as diagnosing the phase of cyber-capitalism which is challenged by the film-aesthetics of cyberpunk, and Deleuze as diagnosing the phase of bio-capitalism which is challenged by the film-aesthetics of biopunk. This approach of interpreting SF as the genre of “cognitive estrangement” under capitalism reduces SF to Marxism instead of contemplating what is original and autonomous about the science fiction worldview. Some major canonical works of the tradition of science fiction studies with which McQueen aligns himself are: Darko Suvin, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 1979); Fredric Jameson, The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema and Space in the World System (Bloomington IN: Indiana University Press, 1992); and Carl Freedman, Critical Theory and Science Fiction (Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2000).

6 – Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” in Dialectic of Enlightenment (translated by Edmund Jephcott) (Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 2002).

7 – Mark Poster, “Baudrillard and TV Ads: The Language of the Economy,” in The Mode of Information: Poststructuralism and Social Context (Cambridge UK: Polity Press, 1990).

8 – Edward A. Shils and Henry A. Finch, eds., Max Weber on the Methodology of the Social Sciences (Glencoe IL: The Free Press, 1949).

9 – N. Katherine Hayles, “The Borders of Madness,” in Science Fiction Studies; Nov. 1991.

10 – Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception (New York: Harper and Row, 1954).

11 – Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects; p.28.

12 – Ibid.; p.180.

13 – Ibid.; p.218.

14 – Jean Baudrillard, La société de consummation: ses mythes, ses structures; pp.123-143.

15 – See my discussion about the media system of simulated differences in Alan N. Shapiro, Star Trek: Technologies of Disappearance (Berlin: AVINUS Verlag, 2004); pp.10-12.

16 – Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message,” in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964); pp.1-18.

17 – Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. 1 (translated by Ben Fowkes) (New York: Penguin, 1990).

18 – Jean Baudrillard, La société de consummation: ses mythes, ses structures; pp.199-237.

19 – Raymond Williams, “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory,” in New Left Review, November-December 1973.

20 – Jean Baudrillard, “Requiem pour les media,” in Pour une critique de l’économie politique du signe; pp.200-228.

21 – Plato, The Sophist (translated by Benjamin Jowett) (Scribe Publishing, 2018); John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.

22 – Jean Baudrillard, L’Échange symbolique et la mort; Jean Baudrillard, “La genèse idéologique des besoins,” in Pour une critique de l’économie politique du signe; pp.59-94.

23 – Marcel Mauss, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies (translated by Jane I. Guyer) (HAU, 2016); Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy (translated by Robert Hurley) (New York: Zone Books, 1991); Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics (New York: de Gruyter, 1972).

24 – Marshall Sahlins, “The Original Affluent Society,” in Stone Age Economics.

25 – Marcel Mauss, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies.

26 – Marshall Sahlins, “The Original Affluent Society,” in Stone Age Economics.

27 – Ibid.

28 – Jean Baudrillard, Pour une critique de l’économie politique du signe; p.127.

29 – Paul Mason, Post-Capitalism: A Guide to Our Future (Allen Lane, 2015); Yanis Varoufakis, Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present (Bodley Head, 2020).

30 – Jean Baudrillard, “L’ordre des simulacres,” in L’Échange symbolique et la mort; pp.75-128; Jean Baudrillard, “The Precession of Simulacra,” in Simulacra and Simulation; pp.1-42.

31 – Jean Baudrillard, “L’Étudiant de Prague” in La société de consummation: ses mythes, ses structures; pp.301-307.

32 – Examples: Sven Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1994); Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (New York: Basic Books, 2017); Clifford Stoll, Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway (Anchor Books, 1996).

33 – Jean Baudrillard, “L’ange du stuc,” in L’Échange symbolique et la mort; pp.78-81.

34 – Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation; p.6.

35 – Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility (translated by Michael W. Jennings) (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2008).

36 – Jean Baudrillard, “Les trois ordres de simulacres,” in L’Échange symbolique et la mort; pp.77-78; Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation; passim.

37 – Mark Poster, “Semiology and Critical Theory: From Marx to Baudrillard,” in Boundary 2: The Problems of Reading in Contemporary American Criticism (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 1979); pp. 275-288.

38 – Rex Butler, Jean Baudrillard: In Defense of the Real.

39 – Rex Butler, Jean Baudrillard: In Defense of the Real (London: Sage, 1999); p.17. See also Vanessa Freerks, Baudrillard with Nietzsche, and Heidegger: Towards a Genealogical Analysis (Stuttgart: ibidem Verlag, 2021).

40 – Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation; p.1; Jorge Luis Borges, “On Exactitude in Science,” in Collected Fictions (translated by Andrew Hurley) (London: Penguin, 1999).

41 – Michel Houellebecq, La Carte et le Territoire (Paris: Flammarion, 2016).

42 – Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation; p.1.

43 – Ibid.; p.2.

44 – Ibid.; pp.12-13.

45 – Jean Baudrillard, The Ecstasy of Communication (translated by Bernard Schutze and Caroline Schutze) (New York: Semiotext(e): 1988); pp.16-17.

46 – Ibid.; pp.20-21.

47 – René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (translated by John Cottingham) (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

48 – Ibid.

49 – Ibid.

50 – Jean Baudrillard, The Evil Demon of Images (text by Baudrillard originally in English) (Sydney, Australia: Power Institute Publications, 1987).

51 – Jean Baudrillard, The Vital Illusion (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000); Mike Gane, ed., Baudrillard Live: Selected Interviews (London: Routledge, 1993); p.122.

52 – Rex Butler, Jean Baudrillard: In Defense of the Real; p.145.

53 – Jean Baudrillard, “Les neuf milliards de noms de Dieu,” in L’Échange symbolique et la mort; pp.305-308; Jean Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime; p.25; Jean Baudrillard, “Aesthetic Illusion and Virtual Reality,” in Nicholas Zurbrugg, ed., Jean Baudrillard: Art and Artefact (London: Sage, 1997); pp.19-27.

54 – Jean Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime; p.26; Jean Baudrillard: Art and Artefact; p.27.

55 – Jean Baudrillard: Art and Artefact; p.27.

56 – Jean Baudrillard, “Le poétique comme extermination de la valeur,” in L’Échange symbolique et la mort; pp.289-298.

57 – Steven Shaviro, “Returning to the Scene of the Perfect Crime, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Virtual,”; pp.3-4; (“The story contrasts the narrowmindedness of the American engineers who run the computer with the metaphysical profundity of the Tibetan monks who commission its use.”); Gerry Coulter, “After ‘Disciplined’ Thought: Baudrillard and Poetic Resolution,” in AVINUS Magazin, 2009 (“Fables such as this poetically point to the risks presented by techno-science.”).

58 – Jean Baudrillard, “L’extermination du nom de Dieu,” in L’Échange symbolique et la mort; pp.283-343.

59 – Jean Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime; p.100.

60 – Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology (translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak) (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).

61 – Jacques Derrida, “Différance,” in Margins of Philosophy (translated by Alan Bass) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982); pp.3-27.

62 – Jean Baudrillard, “Integral Reality” and “The Violence Done to the Image,” in The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact; pp.17-24 and 91-104.

63 – Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (translated by William Lovitt) (New York: Harper and Row, 1977).

64 – Jean Baudrillard, “The Irony of Technology,” in The Perfect Crime; pp.71-74.

65 – Jean Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime; p.74.

66 – Camille Paloque-Bergès, Poétique des codes sur le réseau informatique: une investigation critique (Oxford, OH: Critical Documents, 2006).

67 – Jean Baudrillard, The Agony of Power; p.127.

68 – Jean Baudrillard, Impossible Exchange; p.120.

69 – Emile Durkheim, “What is a Social Fact?” in The Rules of Sociological Method (Red Globe Press, 2013).

70 – Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows and Jørgen Randers, The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind (Potomac Associates, 1972); Serge Latouche, Pour sortir de la société de consommation : Voix et voies de la décroissance (Paris: Les liens qui libèrent, 2010).

71 – Jean Baudrillard, L’Échange symbolique et la mort; p.290.

72 – Ibid.; pp.291-292.

73 – Ibid.; p.294.

74 – Jean Baudrillard, “Le poétique comme extermination de la valeur,” in L’Échange symbolique et la mort; pp.289-298.

75 – Ibid.; p.293.

76 – Ibid.; p.289.

77 – Ibid.; p.294.

78 – Ibid.; p.286.

79 – Ibid.; p.298.

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