This week's readings were thoroughly depressing, yet enlightening nonetheless. The readings about Jean Baudrillard's concepts concerning simulation were particularly fascinating. According to him, objects have come to dominate our society to the point that all real notions of living have fallen by the wayside. The stages by which he says this has occurred do much to strengthen his argument (which is, at the end of the day, only a theory). The idea of concepts and ideas first being counterfeited and then actually becoming the objects we consider to be real, is a hard theorization to grasp at first, but its implications are astounding.
At first, it seems as if his theories are some sort of counter-cultural clash with consumerism (something we've grown used to seeing from the baby boomer generation). But upon further reflection, he is hitting on a key concept--that of reality. For to him, reality is only what society shapes and molds it to be--nothing more. And when objects come to dominate our society, they in effect create this new reality. This seems especially true for someone like me who is coming up in a generation that has been bombarded with consumerism and objectification since birth (with the helpful aid of the television). What I think should be considered carefully here is what ramifications this affect has on our society as a whole. If we are unable to break through the molds that this consumer culture is creating for us, we risk losing the autonomy of creating and evolving our own conceptual interpretations of what reality is. Instead, we are simply providing commentary on objects that have already become entrenched.
The discussion about how negative responses to certain phenomenon is actually a reinforcing aspect of the power structure that is already in place, was another hard argument to grasp. But it goes hand in hand with his discussion fo how objects and simulations have taken over. They have in fact become so entrenched that the simple act of exposing a scandal (Watergate) really only enforces the notion that a power structure does in fact exist with the ability to pull off such blatant criminal acts. This makes things all the more believable for the public. Their reactions are therefore already calculated and pre-determined.
In an age today where we have nothing like the emotional backlash that was seen in the 60s and 70s, Baudrillard seems all the more correct. We are already living in a simulated world that has few chances if any of being fundamentally altered by any actions we may take. Depressing, sure. But it is easier to combat something when you know what you are going up against--however insurmountable the odds may be.