Jean Baudrillard, smoking a cigarette

The so-called “high priest of postmodernism,” Jean Baudrillard evolved from a Marxist-inflected critical commentator of the affluent society to an ambiguous position that can be described either as a bleakly lucid perception that is resigned to the omnipresence of the society of spectacle, or as a horrified fascination with the shallowness of a postmodern society where the sign has become a simulacrum that signifies nothing.

Symbolic Exchange and Death, book cover art

Baudrillard presented a sustained exposition of his later position in Symbolic Exchange and Death, one that completely abandons the quasi-Marxist framework of his earlier books, with an encompassing analysis that juxtaposes early twentieth-century thinkers like Saussure and Mauss with Freud: the era of postmodernity is characterized by the replacement of signs by simulacra and the reality of “hyperreality.”

The game of seduction is replacing consumption where nothing real is ever at stake, as well as a simulation where sexuality is submerged and absorbed into a vacuous hyperreal pornography that is far more ‘real’ than any authentic sexual encounter can ever be. In Seductions, thanks to postmodernity, the masquerade of sex is now the reality of sex. Production and labor are no longer relevant, and the aspiration of political change is little more than the yearning of nostalgia for an era of signification representative of the bygone industrial era.

The Matrix

Therefore, we live in a hyperreality, a world of signs far removed from any external reality that may help us to keep account of what we take to be signified. In hyperreality, the real and the televisual merge and therefore, Disneyland is a construct calculatingly created to indoctrinate people the reality of America as a hyperreal simulacrum of itself. Since historical and causal context are lost, then the real distinctions (social or economic that images represent) themselves also disappear and political life as well.

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...a philosophisticator who utters heresies, thinks theothanatologically and draws like Kirby on steroids.

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