So this post is delayed but I want to talk about Simulacra and Baudrillard’s thoughts. I think I would love to sit down with Mr. Baudrillard and just talk about life…whatever that is. His three orders of simulation really have me thinking about how everything is actually represented in the life we are living in.
The first order is a representation of the real and it is very obviously artificial and things that are first order are like realist paintings or maps. These things are simulation because they aren’t the actual things but a mere representation. Looking at a painting of Henry VIII is just a representation of the actual man that lived in the 16th century. We don’t know him and we cant experience him first hand but we do however create our own Henry VIII based on the painting we are looking at and can say “Yeah, okay, this is what Henry VIII looked like.” The painting represents what we are unable to see and experience first hand.
The second order is where things begin to get more interesting and less straightforward… This is the land where the line between reality and representation begins to blur and your mind begins to do circles. This order of simulacra is where the representation of the real becomes as real and important as the thing it is representing. A lot of times this could mean that a statue is as important as the real thing or person it is representing. People pray to statues of deities with almost as much devotion as if they were praying to the real thing. This is where the line blurs between the representation and the simulation. People who practice Hinduism pray to statues and gods that have been given a physical representation but are not of this “world”, a woman with multiple arms is being praised and worshiped but that statue is not the “real” thing, which is not the real deity. People don’t know the difference. I think it’s interesting to think about that concept regarding religion in young children who have not yet learned the difference between what’s here in this world around them and what is beyond real manifestation. They wouldn’t know the difference between Christianity’s God and the idea of Christianity’s God.
Then last, there is the third order of simulacra according to Baudrillard is when we enter the “vortex of terror” as I like to call it. The third stage is when the representation of the real surpasses the real. COMPLETE MIND EXPLOSION. The representation of the “real” is now better than the actual thing….Main Street USA in Disney for example. The original idea of creating that wonderful land of goodness was to simulate what an “ideal” American downtown, Main Street would look like. Now that simulation has surpassed the real Main Streets in the U.S.
Towns like Plymouth, NH have committees that gather to talk about how they can make their own Main Streets more appealing in lieu of “Main Street” in Disney. Disney is supposed to be based off of the real life Main Streets and now the real life Main Streets aim to make themselves like Disney. NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS OKAY. Simulation has become more desirable than the real thing, the glorified, FAKE versions of real things are more important now. The representation has surpassed the real which is scary to me. There is going to be a time when we wont be able to distinguish between the real and simulation. The lines won’t be blurred and things won’t be surpassed because we wont be able to even pinpoint the original or “real.”