Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vortex of Terror

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.”


  1. I am curious about your "NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS OKAY" comment. All caps! I wonder if we can quantify or qualify what that discomfort is about? Why do we get weirded out when the copy eclipses the original? Why is there this naturalized belief that anything derivative has less value than something that it copies? What are you afraid of? (Maybe that cows will take over the earth? ha ha...)

  2. First off, the graphics in this post are very well done & humorous (snaps for that) and secondly I'd like to touch on Robin's question "Why do we get weirded out when the copy eclipses the original?" I think people don't like to be fooled, and want the "real" thing because who ever wants something that is not authentic…sounds very materialistic of me to say, but in some instances it is nice to have the real thing. For example, say you work your ass off (pardon my language) and finally get enough money to buy something you've always dreamed of, in this case let's just say a Louis Vuitton purse, yes I know some of you may think this is outlandish but for some people acquiring something of this nature means they have done something right, it is reassurance of a job well done. Now, imagine this person who does all this work & finally gets enough money to buy the authentic bag and finds out it is a fake….that just wouldn't sit right with me, aside from the fact that the bag costs more than five months of rent. People would rather something real than fake because it proves they can acquire something as close to real as they are.

  3. Alexis, I am on your level about the purse. I think that is a really good example to provide for that because receiving a fake just would not come with the materialistic human nature reward for all the hard work in order to acquire that purse.

    Robin, I emphasized the nothing about this is okay, because to me it truly is terrifying that something that is merely a representation is becoming more prominent than the real thing. Sure, Main Street USA is pretty and nice to look at but look at downtown Plymouth, or where I went to High School, Downtown Exeter, they are beautiful and when you look at them it's kind of like a "wow" moment because it is almost realization that you are in real life and these beautiful places exist and it goes along with the image of "America" and I think Disney's Main Street USA is too good, and I think people latching on to the idea that it is beautiful and the best and everything should look like Disney is disgusting. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE DISNEY, but I wouldn't confuse Disney's beauty for the small wonders that are actual towns where every day people live and love. I'm afraid that people wont know how to genuinely appreciate the wonders of "mundane" life. Is downtown Plymouth as beautiful as Disney? No, but it is authentic and it have a natural beauty and part of that naturl beauty and wonder are the very REAL people living it, Mickey isn't walking around taking pictures with the kids that are around. It's a slice of beauty in a "mundane" world. I am terrified and sad for the day that people will look to the copies to provide the little joys of life when the original is just that, THE ORIGINAL.


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