The Trap of Simulations in Consumerism and Beyond: Nihilism and Hyperbole in Baudrillard and the Way Out for Rhetorical Agencies

La Disparition Du Monde Réel/The Disappearance of the Real World

I open this post with a video of Baudrillard for the purpose of seeking meaning in his desert of meaninglessness. The mass media brought forth the violence of the images, the death of the subject and the object, and many other issues that haunts the present era. How do we get our resurrection when we realize that we are overwhelmed by commodities and images. How do we balance the banal with the fatal in this crazily undefinable postmodernist world?

According to this video, Baudrillard stresses the present and the absent at the same time as an implication of his hyperreal, which is the real more than the real—the non real. His early awareness of the photography technology and the television’s subversion of time and space leads us to his crystalized idea of simulation.

I understand from reading the first part of his Simulations—”The Precession of Simulacra” that he is trying to show us the fallacy of an existent reality. Drawing our attention to the fallacy of the appearances, he actually achieved his goal of pulling us back to the essence of capitalism and the consumer society.

The very opening of the book

“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth—it is the truth whoch conceals that there is none.

The simulacrum is true.


When I first read this, I was totally shocked and had no idea what he is talking about because I have no impression that there is something similar in the Bible. Then, after a second thought I realized it is just a parody or his play of words to reach a black humor? Or, is it simply an irony?

He gives the example of the Empire and its fall and then moves to argue the essence of mapping–precession of simulacra. He loves to use the image of desert. I guess he is using it as a symbol of death when he says that the map and the desert both disappears with simulation.

“Never again will the real have to be produced—this is the vital function of the model in a system of death, or rather of anticipated resurrection which no longer leaves any chance even in the event of death. A hyperreal henceforth sheltered from the imagery, and from any distinction between the real and the imaginary, leaving room only for the orbital recurrence of models and the simulated generation of difference.”

Reading his assertions makes me feel inspiring but at the same time depressing. Psychology and medicine have no remedy for this powerful simulation rather than a superficial and recognizable “feigning”. Similarly, to Baudrillard, the death sentence of very reference makes even God a simulation due to the “murderous capacity of Byzatine icons.”

The successive phases of the images

1) the reflection of a basic reality; 2) masks and perverts a basic reality; 3) masks the absence of a basic reality;  4) bears no relation to any reality

reminds me of the apple trade mark, maps, as well as what I experienced in Vegas. This process is summarized by Foss & Foss according to different historical periods. The very act of mapping and imitating is vital to understand Baudrillard.



Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas


Paris Hotel, Las Vegas

The idea of simulation becomes easy to understand when I take a look at the commodified postmodern architectures. What they give us is a sense of reality, but they are actually not the reality. The Window of the World at Shenzhen City, P.R.China is another example of simulation in architectural representation. The postmodern copy of a copy of a copy phenomenon is just what Baudrillard argues in his Simulacra and Simulation. The idea of the “hyperreal” comes from “the procession of simulacra,” which is why he considers cultural and media constructed reality as simulations. Baudrillard gives the example of Disneyland when he talks about the hyperreal and the imaginary.

Baudrillard also refers to the Watergate as the same scenario as Disneyland He considers the simulative political incantation as a “moebius-spiralling negativity.” However, we have to search for the unsaid in his arguments. It seems that he leaves no place for the role of agency due to his negativity on the existence of the masses. Nevertheless, he is trying to put the object in the gaze so that we as the subject can have a clearer view of the simulations of nihilism in mass media and technologies. Therefore, his theory is not an absolute denial of the reality, but a hyperbole of the simulations in order to present the real.


Postmodernism and Postmodernity, Baudrillard’s Simulation and Questions for Discussion

Hi, All

Here are the Tentative Questions copied from my notebook (Subjected to changes until the discussion in class):

“America” by Baudrillard:


1. What does Baudrillard mean when he says “Speed is simply the rite mobility, concealed beneath the very intensification of their mobility. Akin to the nostalgia for living forms that haunts geometry”? (256)

2. How do we comprehend the “immanence” of America in relation to the postmodern features—immanence? (p. 257) Indeterminacy and immanence are two concepts of postmodernity, how do they relate to simulations and the hyperreal?

3. How do we understand the miracle of America’s obscenity as opposed to its puritan obsession and how does the speed make the ground of of puritan obsession gone? (257)

4. What does Baudrillard mean by saying that “Here is the most moral society there is, space is truly immoral. Here is the most conformist society, the dimensions are immoral. It is this immorality that makes distance light and the journey infinite, that cleaneses the muscles of their tiredness” at the end of the article? (258) How does this relate to the primitiveness of America and its desert like speed? Can it be related to Freud’s psychoanalysis of the human being’s unconscious desire?

“The rhetoric of Intetexuality” by Frank A. D’Angelo


1. According to D’Angelo, what are the concerns of rhetorical study and literary study and how do they differ from each other in research purpose and objects? Do you think his argument reliable from this perspective?

2. How does Kristiva’s idea “any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another”(33) resonants with Baudrillard’s simulation?

3. How do you think this piece is conducive to make full use of adaptation, retro, appropriation, pastiche, and simulation for pedagogical purposes?

4. If we teach our students in class these techniques in relation to mass and new media composition, what assessment criteria we would follow to grade?

Baudrillard in Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric

1. How do we teach students critical thinking when we ourselves are immersed in a “consumer society in which objects dominate and control humans rather than the reverse”? (300)

2. What is your idea on whether or not Baudrillard is a postmodernist? (301)

3. How do you comprehend the inability of intellectuals to create social change? (302-303)

4. How do we understand Baudrillard’s incidental shift of interest to photography contributes to his simulation theory? (303)

5. What is your understanding of Baudrillard’s criticism to Marxism as “incapable of describing life before and after the era of production”? (305)

6. How do we understand his idea that the masses/the people does not exist? (305)

7. Is Baudrillard’s critique on Foucault and other theorists reliable? (305-306)

8. Why Baudrillard argues the Gulf War as a “virtual war of information, electronics, and images”? Do you agree with his idea? (306)

9. Is his ways of escaping from fullness useful to the postmodern world? (307)

10. According to Baudrillard, simulation comes into being from the increasing separation of signs from the objects they present (307), can you give examples of his assertion that embodies “signs of the real for the real itself”? (307)

11. Simulation makes us unable to distinguish the real from the fake in this society of media and technology. How do you practice information literacy and electronical literacy in composition classroom?

12. Discuss the evolution of simulation and see how symbols becomes unreliable throughout time (308-312).

13. How does the excess of information in the mass media world produce the postmodern uncertainty and the difficulties or even impossibility of communication? (312-315)

14. How does the hegemony of commodity culture realize its power and what bad impact it has on the consumers? (315-317)

15. To illustrate the centrality of the object and the excessive consumer culture, Baudrillard gives the example of contrasts the television with the cinema, how do you understand the “absolutely irreplaceable” qualities of the cinema? Will it be more illustrative if he compares television to the “theatre”? (321)

16. How do we understand the possibilities of resistance as rhetorical strategies against hyperreality? (321)

17. What does banal and fatal strategy mean respectively and why does Baudrillard favor the fatal rather than the banal? How do they interrelate to each other? (322-327)

18. What are the advantages of alternative paradigms as compared to the reason dominated perspectives of traditional rhetoric? (329)

19. How does the poem at the end of commentary part illustrates Baudrillard and the postmodernity in him?

Additional Questions on Baudrillard:.

1. What does Baudrillard mean by “hyperreal”?

2. How do we apply his theory of simulation into our own research and pedagogy?

3. How does his theoretical lens relate to other postmodernists’ views from our readings so far? For instance, how do you connect Baudrillard’s examples of Disneyland, Watergate, and so on to McGee’s ideograph? And the symbol using theory of Burke?

4. Do we see any hope in his theory from the assigned readings and the quotes I have selected?

5. How do we deal with the rhetorical situation Baudrillard defines?

6. What is the difficulty of invention in a surrounding of simulations?

7. How do we view ourselves as agencies of change in a “mirror of production”?

8. What is the significance of “America” when related to spacial theory?

9. How does intertextuality play its role in the academia and the classroom? How do we make use of it and at the same time not committing plagiarism?

10. How does technology, specifically the new media shift our way of comprehension and teaching?

Here is some information on what I have been doing with Baudrillard and postmodernism. Hope it helps if your are interested in his theories. Please give me your invaluable suggestions.

Links on postmodernism, postmodernity, and Baudrillard as a postmodernist: Lyotard and the Postmodern Condition Ihab Hassan Linda Hatcheon Fredric Jameson

Jaques Lacan

General Introduction to Postmodernism

Features of Postmodernism

Characteristics of Postmodernism

Features and Examples of Postmodernism

Baudrillard on Postmodernity

The Loss of Distinction Between Reality and Simulation

Available Books relevant to Baudrillard at GSU Library (in alphabetic order):

Baudrillard Now: Current Persoectives in Baudrillard Studies. Edited by Ryan Bishop. Polity Press, Cambridge. 2009.

Exiles from Dialogue: Jean Baudrillard and Enrique Valiente Noailles. Translated by Chris Turner. Polity press, Cambridge. 2007.

Fragments: Conversations with François L’Yvonnet. Translated by Chris Turner. Routledge, London. 2004.

Impossible Exchange. Translated by Chris Turner. Verso, London. 2001.

McLuhan and Baudrillard, The Masters of Implosion. Gary Genosko. Routledge. 1999. (ebook available via GSU library)

Simulations. Translated by Paul Foss, Paul Patton and Philip Beitchman.

In the end, I’d like to share Anderson’s prosumer approach:

Tisha Savannah

"Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters." - Neil Gaiman

Foundations of Literary Studies: Reading Frankenstein Two Hundred Years Later

English 010 | University of California, Merced | Fall 2018

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