Sunday, November 25, 2007

Baudrillard argues in particular that the real in Lacan is always already imaginary

Ok, I want to start out by saying that I really enjoyed this guest lecture courtesy of Ken Rufo and I am looking forward to watching the Matrix and viewing it from more of an academic perspective as opposed to watching it for action and awesome fight scenes. I found Baudrillard's initial interest in and then eventual shift away from Marxism very interesting. This not only helped me to understand Marxism a little better, but also reminded me of deconstructionism and Derrida. I liked where Ken explained that Baudrillard realized that
"Capitalism doesn't care who produces what...instead all it cares about is that it is constantly producing stuff, because in the end capitalism is about consumption, not production...Baudrillard argues that really Marx's theories are the 'mirror of production' and are a good rhetorical balancing act that actually helped support capitalism rather than subvert or oppose it"
I found this to be very Derridaian (I made this word up, but you get what I mean) because Baudrillard is deconstructing the idea of Marxism and exposing its flaws. But enough with the Marxism, lets get on to some of Baudrillard's other ideas.
I must say that the cow/hay/money example Ken gave to explain the three basic orders really helped me to understand this concept. After class on Tuesday I was a bit confused so I went back and reread this section, and it makes much more sense.
However, I guess Baudrillard is still somewhat hard for me to grasp. Ken explains that Baudrillard felt that theorists - many of which we have studied in class - are not actually discovering anything.
"The point is that everyone keeps producing these systems of production, proliferating signs and truths and concepts, and yet doing so with the pretense of discovering what they are actually inventing."
I am having trouble understanding this concept. I think it means that theorists do not actually discover anything; the example he gave was of Lacan and psychoanalysis. Ken explains that Lacan and Freud claim to have discovered the unconscious and can find true meaning from analyzing the unconscious. Baudrillard believes that these meanings and forms of analysis are invented. I think this relates to the simulacra; Ken gave the example of the ET ride at universal studios which is also similar to how we discussed Disney World in class. Ken explains that although the ET ride and Disney World appear to be simulations, they are
"so fake that they aren't actually copying anything, they're just making stuff up and telling you it's the real thing."
Maybe these two concepts do not relate, but to me it seems like the notion that theorists believe to be 'discovering' something but really are just inventing an idea and the concept of simulacra are some what similar. I am having trouble articulating what is going on in my head right now, so I will leave this idea here for now and if someone helps me out, or I make better sense of it tonight while I am lying in bed, I will be sure to post again.
One last concept I will try to discuss is Baudrillard's hyperreal, which I believe is what the movie the Matrix tried to do. So the hyperreal is when there is so much simulation, that a person considers their life and their experiences through the these simulations, creating a reality that essentially is not reality. Ken gives the example of going to a national park and trying to find a spot where a famous picture was taken, so you can try to take the same picture.
"...even if you go off to wherever you're going to see if the simulation you saw of it previously was really accurate, you're already relating to the real through the referential lens of the simulation. So the real you discover will always be an effect of the simulation, a copy or non-copy of it."
I am somewhat perplexed by this, because I read earlier that Bauldrillard had a problem with psychoanalysis and Lacan. This concept of the hyperreal seems me, to be very similar to Lacan's notion of the real. Lacan believes that the real can never be achieved and it seems like Baudrillard feels the same way; if simulation is so pervasive in our lives, then we must be living completely unaware that this is not true reality.
I know there must be a difference between these two ideas, I am just not finding it right now. I think that all of Baudrillard's ideas that I have been introduced to so far are very interesting, however as our good friend Chaz Michael Michaels says, all of this is pretty mind-bottling. I am going to watch the Matrix tonight with Nick Adams, and hopefully the two of us can make sense of Baudrillard and talk this one out. Be expecting another post some time before next week :) Posted by Bunbury at 11:47 AM

1 comments: Ken said...I'll keep an eye out for a follow-up post, but let me say two quick things. First, regarding Baudrillard and Lacan, it's pretty complicated. Most of the debate takes place in a book called Symbolic Exchange and Death, where Baudrillard argues in particular that the real in Lacan is always already imaginary. He has some substantive claims for why this is the case, and I actually wrote an essay about the Matrix where I do a sort of Derridean read of Lacan's mirror stage lecture to show why Baudrillard was pretty spot on, but the arguments are pretty specific. I can send a copy of the essay along if you like. But the more pertinent point is that Baudrillard's real is indeed quite similar, but it's also more generalized, and it doesn't rely on a psychic economy that keeps the Imaginary, Symbolic, and Real separate. October 31, 2007 5:01 PM Kenneth Rufo Schmitt and the Temporality of the Political

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I'd like to read your essay, Ken, on "a sort of Derridean read of Lacan's mirror stage lecture!" You can contact me @