2012-11-23T21:26:20+01:00

The balance of terror is the terror of balance.

Here are my notes from a book strange book called "Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard". I found it hard to read and hard to understand. One reason could also be that the translation was not very good.

  • p3 To dissimulate is to pretend not to have what one has. To simulate is to feign to have what one doesn't have. One implies a presence, the other and absence.
  • p6 it is the reflection of a profound reality; it masks and denatures a profound reality; it masks the absence of a profound reality; it has no relation to any reality whatsoever: it is its own pure simulacrum
  • p7 In order for ethnology to live, its object must die; by dying, the object takes its revenge for being "discovered" and with its death defies the science that wants to grasp it.
  • p12 Disneyland exists in order to hide that it is the "real" country, all of "real" America that is Disneyland (a bit like prisons are there to hide that it is the social in its entirety, in its banal omnipresence, that is carceral). Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, ...
  • p13 Disneyland: a space of the regeneration of the imaginary as waste-treatment plants are elsewhere, and even here. Everywhere today one must recycle waste, and the dreams, the phantasms, the historical, fairylike, legendary imaginary of children and adults is a waste product, the first great toxic excrement of a hyperreal civilization. On a mental level, Disneyland is the prototype of this new function. But all the sexual, psychic, somatic recycling institutes, which proliferate in California, belong to the same order. People no longer look at each other, but there are institutes for that. They no longer touch each other, but there is contactotherapy. They no longer walk, but they go jogging, etc. Everywhere one recycles lost faculties, or lost bodies, or lost sociality, or the lost taste for food. One reinvents penury, asceticism, vanished savage naturalness: natural food, health food, yoga.
  • p18 It would take too long to traverse the entire range of the operational negativity of all those scenarios of deterrence, which, like Watergate, try to regenerate a moribund principle through simulated scandal, phantasm, and murder - a sort of hormonal treatment through negativity and crisis. It is always a question of providing the real through the imaginary, providing truth through scandal, proving law through transgression, providing work through striking, proving system through crisis, and capital through revolution, ... Everything is metamorphosed into its opposite to perpetuate itself in its expurgated form. All the powers, all the institutions speak of themselves through denial, in order to attempt, by simulating death, to escape their real death throes.
  • p24 Death is never an absolute criterion, but in this case it is significant: the era of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and the Kennedys, of those who really died simply because they had a mythic dimension that implies death ( not for romantic reasons, but because of the fundamental principle of reversal and exchange) - this era is long gone. It is not the era of murder by simulation, ... Power floats like money, like language, like theory. Criticism and negativity alone still secrete a phantom of the reality of power. It they became weak for one reason or another, power has no other recourse but to artificially revive and hallucinate them. ... One must not resist this process by trying to confront the system and destroy it, because this system that is dying from being dispossessed of its death expects nothing but that from us: that we give the system back its death, that we revive it through the negativity.
  • p33 The balance of terror is the terror of balance.
  • p79 The Implosion of Meaning in the Media
  • p79 We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.
  • p84 Is it the media that induce fascination on the masses, or is it the masses who direct the media into the spectacle? Mogadishu-Stammheim: the media make themselves into the vehicle of the moral condemnation of terrorism and of the exploitation of fear for political ends, but simultaneously, in the most complete ambiguity, they propagate the brutal charm of the terrorist act, they are themselves terrorists, insofar as they themselves march to the tune of seduction.
  • p85 Children are simultaneously required to constitute themselves as autonomous subjects, responsible, free and conscious, and to constitute themselves as submissive, inert, obedient, conforming objects.
  • p87 Today what we are experiencing is the absorption of all virtual modes of expression into that of advertising. All original cultural forms, all determined languages are absorbed in advertising because it has no depth, it is instantaneous and instantaneously forgotten. Triumph of superficial form, of the smallest common denominator of all signification, degree zero of meaning, triumph of entropy over all possible tropes. The lowest form of energy of the sign. This unarticulated, instantaneous form, without a past, without a future, without the possibility of metamorphosis, has power over all the others. All current forms of activity tend toward advertising and most exhaust themselves therein.
  • p134 Those who used to sacrifice animals did not take them for beasts. And even the Middle Ages, which condemned and punished them in due form, was in this way much closer to them than we are, we who are filled with horror at this practice. They held them to be guilty: which was a way of honoring them. We take them for nothing, and it is on this basis that we are "human" with them. We no longer sacrifice them, we no longer punish them, and we are proud of it, but it is simply that we have domesticated them worse: that we have made them a racially inferior world, no longer even worthy of out justice, but only of our affection and social charity, no longer worthy of punishment and of death, but only of experimentation and extermination like meat from butchery.
  • p149 The university is in ruins: nonfunctional in the social arenas of the market and employment, lacking cultural substance of an end purpose of knowledge.
  • p152 Yet it is there that one must fight, if even fighting has any meaning anymore. We are simulators, we are simulacra (not in the classical sense of "appearance"), we are concave mirrors radiated by the social, a radiation without a light source, power without origin, without distance, and it is in this tactical universe of the simulacrum that one will need to fight - without hope, hope is a weak value, but in defiance and fascination. Because one must not refuse the intense fascination that emanates from this liquidation of all power, of all axes of value, of all axiology, politics included.
  • p155 In this sense the university remains the site of a desperate initiation to the empty form of value, and those who have lived there for the past few years are familiar with this strange work, the true desperation of nonwork, of nonknowledge. Because current generations still dream of reading, of learning, of competing, but their heart isn't in it - as a whole, the ascetic cultural mentality has run body and possessions together.
  • This is why the strike no longer means anything. It is also why we were trapped, we trapped ourselves, after 1968, into giving diplomas to everybody.
  • p162 Melancholia is the brutal disaffection that characterizes our saturated systems. Once the hope of balancing good and evil, true and false, indeed of confronting some values of the same order, once the more general hope of a relation of forces and a stake has vanished.
  • p163 The system is itself also nihilistic, in the sense that it has the power to pour everything, including what denies it, into indifference.
  • p164 There is no more hope for meaning. And without a doubt this is a good thing: meaning is mortal.

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