Five Sentence Abstract:
History is being rewritten, or more accurately recreated, through the eyes of film specifically and media in general. An exploration of Marshal McLuhan's "the medium is the message", is taken to new heights. Age old concepts such as the shadow, doppelganger, and the mirror are reexamined in the modern terms of clones and holograms. Universities are claimed to be on the forefront of this implosion into hyperreality since they no longer facilitate a transmission of knowledge, but instead exist to dispense diplomas in a rote fashion. Lastly nihilism and Nietzsche are discussed in relation to the lack of meaning in the modern world, but seen to themselves have no meaning.
While this book is somewhat hard to read, owing to its colorful language,
possible sketchy translation, and interesting sentence structure, it is well
worth the effort.
It is interesting to see how, in 1995, such a complete description of the
ill-effects of film and television were seen. How things like WW2 and the
Vietnam war could be relived by generations that did not have the pleasure of
living through them. Films like Apocalypse become the reality of the Vietnam
war for every subsequent generation. These films stylise and caricature the
real until no memory of the real is left. The same effect can be seen in books
From the historical to the futuristic science fiction, all meaning is being
lost to the fantasy. Our values are being molded by the media we can no longer
discern from that which it originally represented. This leads to a blending of
the fantasy and reality into an undistinguishable hyperreality.
The social implications of this are discussed in such a way that it feels
prescient to the modern social media (via smart phone) crazy the world is
currently caught up in. The holograms and clones seem relevant to me in this
context. It seems that it would not be a great leap to equate the online
personalities so many have adopted to holograms or clones, sculpted by the
Universities are also looked at as being in a state (again 1995) of rot. What
was once a set of institutions used to transmit knowledge to the future, and
only those who were capable of receiving said knowledge, have become diploma
Mills used to indoctrinate entire generation. The value of knowledge has been
lost to the, temporarily, self-perpetuating value of the diploma. Teaching has
been replaced by a social experience shared between the students and the
faculty. This, like the allusion to social media's dominance, feels eerily on
point to the current absurd going-ons in university - safe spaced and racially
This is one of three books that inspired the Matrix movie. This one is actually
shown in the movie as a hollow book holding digital paraphernalia. The other
two are Evolutionary Biology and Out of Control.
What happened 10 May 1968?
- Civil unrest in France. General strikes, occupation of universities and
factories. The French economy was virtually halted.
- The Last Picture Show, 1900, All The President's Men, Visconti
- Crash, Everyone to Zanzibar
Table of Contents
The Precession of Simulacra
History: A Retro Scenario
The China Syndrome
The Beaubourg Effect : Implosion and Deterrence
Hypermarked and Hypercommodity
The Implosion of Meaning in the Media
Absolute Advertising, Ground-Zero Advertising
Simulacra and Science Fiction
The Animals: Territory and Metamorphoses
The Spiraling Cadaver
Value's Last Tango
- Witness the cloister of Saint-Michel de Cuxa, which one will repatriate at
great cost from the Cloisters in New York to reinstall it in "its original
site." And everyone is supposed to applaud this restitution... Well, if the
exportation of the cornices was in effect an arbitrary act, if the Cloisters in
New York are an artificial mosaic of all cultures (following a logic of the
capitalist centralization of value), their reimportation to the original site
is even more artificial: it is a total simulacrum that links up with "reality"
through a complete circumvolution. The cloister should have stayed in New York
in its simulated environment, which at least fooled no one. Repatriating it is
nothing but a supplementary subterfuge, acting as if nothing had happened and
indulging in retrospective hallucination. In the same way, Americans flatter
themselves for having brought the population of Indians back to pre-Conquest
levels. One effaces everything and starts over.
- This world wants to be childish in order to make us believe that the adults
are elsewhere, in the "real" world, and to conceal the fact that true
childishness is everywhere...
One must think instead of the media as if they were, in outer orbit, a kind
of genetic code that directs the mutation of the real into the hyperreal,...
Now, one must conceive of TV along the lines of DNA...
What is hatched in the shadow of this [nuclear]
mechanism with the pretext of a maximal, "objective," threat, and thanks to
Damocles' nuclear sword, is the perfection of the best system of control that
has ever existed. And the progressive satellization of the whole planet through
this hypermodel of security.
- Now, it is the same model of programmatic infallibility, of maximum security
and deterrence that today controls the spread of the social. There lies the
true nuclear fallout: the meticulous operation of
technology serves as a model for the meticulous operation of the social.
- ...behind this simulacrum of fighting to the death and of ruthless global
stakes, the two adversaries are fundamentally in
solidarity against something else, unnamed, never spoken, but whose objective
outcome in war, with the equal complicity of the two adversaries, is total
liquidation. Tribal, communitarian, precapitalist structures, every form
of exchange, of language, of symbolic organization, that is what must be
abolished, that is the object of murder in war - and war itself, in its
immense, spectacular death apparatus, is nothing but the medium of this process
of the terrorist rationalization of the social - the murder on which sociality
will be founded... for the very end of reshaping and
domesticating social relations.
- Entry into the atomic club, so prettily named, very quickly effaces (as
unionization does in the working world) any inclination toward violent
intervention. Responsibility, control, censure, self-deterrence always grow
more rapidly than the forces or the weapons at our disposal: this is the secret
of the social order.
- Who made you duke? The king. Who made you king? God.
Only God no longer answers. But to the question: who made you a psychoanalyst?
the analyst can well reply: You.
- // History has been lost and become our modern myth. It is
now reanimated in cinema.
...fascism can again become fascinating in its filtered cruelty,
// Cinema itself is lost to itself. The "classics" are
remade better than the original.
- One lacks stakes, investment, history, speech. That is the fundamental
problem. The objective is thus to produce them at all cost, and this broadcast
served this purpose: to capture the artificial heat of a dead event to warm the
dead body of the social.
- What else do the media dream of besides creating the event simply by their
- The war became film, the film becomes war, the two are joined by their common
hemorrhage into technology.
- Subversion, violent destruction is what corresponds to a mode of production.
To a universe of networks, of combinatory theory, and of flow correspond
reversal and implosion.
- Thus all the messages in the media function in a similar fashion: neither
information nor communication, but referendum, perpetual test, circular
response, verification of the code.
We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and
Everywhere socialization is measured by the exposure to media messages.
Whoever is underexposed to the media is desocialized or virtually asocial.
- One should be wary of the universalization of struggles through information.
One should be wary of solidarity campaigns at every level, of this
simultaneously electronic and worldly solidarity. Every
strategy of the universalization of differences is an entropic strategy of the
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.
The whole scope of advertising and propaganda comes from the October
Revolution and the market crash of 1929.
- This convergence [of propaganda and advertising]
defines a society- ours-in which there is no longer any difference between the
economic and the political, because the same language reigns in both...
- Microprocessing, digitality, cybernetic languages go
much further in the direction of the absolute simplification of processes than
advertising did on its humble - still imaginary and spectacular-level.
It is information, in the sense of data
processing, that will put an end to, that is already
putting an end to the reign of advertising.
The anticipatory illustration of this transformation was Philip K. Dick's
papula - that transistorized advertising
implant, a sort of broadcasting leech, an electronic parasite that
attaches itself to the body and that is very hard to get rid of. But the papula
is still an intermediary form: it is already a kind of
incorporated prosthesis, but it still incessantly repeats advertising
messages. A hybrid, then, but a prefiguration of the psychotropic and
dataprocessing networks of the automatic piloting of individuals, next to which
the "conditioning" by advertising looks like a delightful change in fortune.
// Smart phones take this to the next level.
...advertising is completely in unison with the
social, whose historical necessity has found itself absorbed by the pure
and simple demand for the social...
...innumerable campaigns for security...
...repeating incessantly, "I buy, I consume, I take pleasure," today repeats
in other forms, "I vote, I participate, I am present, I am concerned"...
The stage of the body changes in the course of an irreversible technological
"progression": from tanning in the sun, which already corresponds to an
artificial use of the natural medium, that is to say to making it a prosthesis
of the body (itself becoming a simulated body, but where lies the truth of the
body?) - to domestic tanning with an iodine lamp (yet another good old
mechanical technique) - to tanning with pills and hormones (chemical and
ingested prosthesis) - and finally to tanning by intervening in the genetic
formula (an incomparably more advanced stage, but a prosthesis nonetheless,
that is, it is simply definitively integrated, it no longer even passes through
either the surface or the orifices of the body), one passes by different
Organ transplants are still of this order. But what
should be said of mental modeling via psychotropic agents and drugs? It is the
stage of the body that is changed by them. The psychotropic body is a
body modeled "from the inside,"
- The universe itself, taken globally, is what cannot be represented, what does
not have a possible complement in the mirror,...
- // Science fiction has moved from imagining expansion in
a vast universe to reimagining our history.
The parallel between these animals sick from surplus value [overcrowding] and humans sick from industrial
concentration, from the scientific organization of work and assembly - line
factories is illuminating.
Against the industrial organization of death, animals have no other recourse,
no other possible defiance, except suicide.
- The university is in ruins: nonfunctional in the social arenas of the market
and employment, lacking cultural substance or an end purpose of knowledge.
- Power (or what takes its place) no longer believes in the university. It
knows fundamentally that it is only a zone for the
shelter and surveillance of a whole class of a certain age, it therefore
has only to select - it will find its elite elsewhere, or by other means. Diplomas are worthless: why would it refuse to award them, in
any case it is ready to award them to everybody...
- It is necessary to transform this rotting into a violent process, ...
- Panic on the part of university administrators at the idea that diplomas will be awarded without a "real"-work counterpart,
without an equivalence in knowledge. This panic is not that of political
subversion, it is that of seeing value become
dissociated from its contents and begin to function alone, according to
its very form. The values of the university (diplomas, etc.) will proliferate
and continue to circulate, a bit like floating capital or Eurodollars, they
will spiral without referential criteria, completely devalorized in the end,
but that is unimportant: their circulation alone is enough to create a social
horizon of value, and the ghostly presence of the phantom value will only be
greater, even when its reference point (its use value, its exchange value, the
academic "work force" that the university recoops) is lost.
- The trace of this radicality of the mode of disappearance is already found in
Adorno and Benjamin, parallel to a nostalgic
exercise of the dialectic.