Friday, March 25, 2011


This week's readings deal with postmodernism. However, in order to understand postmodernism, we must first understand modernism. So I will start by discussing modernism and then discuss our readings.


What is modernism?

Modernism is a movement that is defined by the belief that the values of the Age of Enlightenment (18th Century) had fallen appart (science, reason and logic), thus creating a center that could be characterized as a void. While some societies are comfortable with void as their center, Western societies were not and thus they began to fill their centers with myth, heores, and machines. These new centers were part of the movement's view of themselves as creators of new rather than preservers of old (Powell, 1998).

Some notable modernists includ Nietzsche, Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and William Butler.

One of the major problems of the modernist movement is that it found that along with progress also came destruction. Another main problem was that the art of the modernist movement fell into two categories, high brow and low brow, which left out those who fell in the middle (Powell, 1998).


What is postmodernism?

While some theorists disagree over the specific definition of postmodernism, it essentially is an attempt to make sense of what is going on currently. Storey (2009) defines postmodernism as "a a current term inside and outside the academic study of populare culture" that has "entered into discourses as different as pop music journalism and Marxist debates on the cultural conditions of late or multinational capitalism" (181).

Postmodernism in the 1960s

The new sensibility movement (Sontag & Fiedler) in the late 1950s and 1960s was a "revolt against the canonization of modernism's avant-garde revolution", specifically "modernism's official status" as " the high culture of the modern capitalist world" (Storey, 2009, 182). the subversive, shocking modernist culture had lost its power to undermine the bourgeois culture because it had become the bourgeois culture. In addition, this new sensibility had turned against cultural elitism and felt that the levels of culture (high and low) had become meaningless. Instead of Matthew Arnold's notion of culture, postmodernism preferred "Williams's social definition of culture as 'a way of life'", specifically the pop art of the 1950s and 1960s (Storey, 2009, 183).

Andy Warhol, along with Lawrence Alloway, key figures in the theorizing of pop art, felt that there should not be a distinction between commercial and non-commercial art. Warhol saw ''commercial art as real art and real art as commercial art'" (Storey, 2009, 183). While Warhol's art ended up in galleries and thus became high culture, John Rockwell argues that this was not the intention. In addition, he argues that "art . . . is what you perceive as art' (Storey, 2009, 184). This movement in art began to take cultural power away from the wealthy ruling class and gave it to those with other perspectives.

Huyssen (1986) argues that the context of the American counterculture and the British underground scene was important to the understanding of the relationship between pop art and pop culture. It was "generational refusal" for "high modernism" that lead to pop and postmodernism (Storey, 2009, 184). It was the American counterculture of the 1960s that Huyssen saw "as the closing chapter in the tradition of avantgardism" (Storey, 2009, 184).


The Postmodern Condition: a report on knowledge

The Postmodern Condition, published in france in 1974 and translated into English in 1984, was originally "an account commissioned by the Council of Universities of Quebec" that details the status of science and technology (Powell, 1998, 22). The report found that 'science has increasingly investigated language, linguistic theories, communication, cybernetics, informatics, computers and computer languages, information storage, data banks, and problems of translation from one computer language to another (Powell, 1998, 22). Lyotard states that these technological changes will impact knowledge, arguing that knowledge that cannot be translated into computer language and stored on computers will not survive. in addition, he argues that information will be the new territory that nations will fight over (Powell, 1998).

As correct as he is on the status of knowledge in our world, The Postmodern Condition is best known for Lyotard's understanding of knowledge in realtion of metanarratives. Modernism created a move away from centers or metanarratives, such as Marxism and Christianinty, which were filled by myth and machine. However, in postmodernism there isn't a need to fill the void but creation through chance and randomness (Powell, 1998). This allows for the "increasing sound of a plurity of voices from the margins, with their insistence on difference, on cultural diversity, and the claims of heterogeneity over homogeneity" (Storey, 2009, 185). For Lyotard this created an issue for the status of knowledge.

Lyotard discusses scientific knowledge and its ability or inability to legitimate itself. Ultimatley, Lyotard argues that the nature of scientific knowledge and scientific discourse does not allow for it to legitimate itself. It need a narrative dicourse in order to be legitimated. Lyotard argues that in the Enlightenment, the narrative discourse of scientific knowledge is the way to gradually emancipate hunmankind. In this way science assumes a metanarrative. But since WWII, this metanarrative has lost its power, because of "blossoming of techniques and technologies" that have shifted emphasis from the ends of action to its means" (ST, 465-6). Lyotard uses the academy as a comparison for this move in knowledge, arguing that when "stripped of the responsibility of research . . . .they limit themselves to the transmission of what is judged to be established knowledge, and through didactics they guarantee the replication of teachers rather than the production of researchers" (ST, 467). This it is through performativity that scientific knowledge is legitimated.


Baudrillard discusses postmodernism as "not simply a culture of the sign: rather it is a culture of the 'simulacrum'" ("an identical copy without an original") (Storey, 2009, 187). Examples of a simulacrum are items such as music cds, digital songs, movie dvds, and digital images. All of these are copies of copies and an identical copy can be made from the copy. Baudrillard argues that the simulation process is the destruction of the distinction between the copy and the original and "threatens the difference between 'true' and 'false'" (ST, 481). This simulation is in fact a "generation by models of real without origins or reality: a hyperreal" (Storey, 2009, 187). Baudrillard argues that "Disneyland is a perfect model of all the entangled orders of simulation" that includes "a play of illusions and phantasms" and the social microcosm, the miniturized and religious revelling in real America" (ST, 483). It functions in the "trhir-order similation: Disneyland is ther to conceal the fact that it is the 'real' country, all of 'real' America, which is Disneyland (ST, 483).

Hyperrealism doesn't just exist in theme parks, but exist everywhere in culture and out lives. Evidence of its existence can be found in blogs, advertising, tourist adventures, and television shows. For example some shows make fun of the existence of hyperrealism such as Friend and Beavis & Butthead. Be sure to watch the end of the Beavis & Butthead episode for Copper scene.

Brooke Shields in Friends...Very Funny !!. Watch more top selected videos about: Friends, Brooke Shields


Jameson differs from other postmodern theorists in that his theorization comes "from within a Marxist or neo-Marxist framework" (Storey, 2009, 191). For Jameson, postmodernism is a "'periodizing concept'" that "postmodernism is 'the cultural dominant' of late multinational capitalism'" (Storey, 2009, 191). Using Mandel's model of the three stages of capitalism's development, Jameson developed a model for cultural development with three stages: realism, modernism, and postmodernism (Storey, 2009).

Jameson argues that the "postmodern is . . . the force field in which very different kinds of cultural impulses . . . must make their way" (6). He argues that the postmodern is "the end of the bourgeois ego", "the end of the psychopathologies of that ego" and the end of individual feeling (15). Jameson refers to this as the 'wanning of affect' and describes this as our life being "dominated by categorires of space rather than by categories of time" (16). Secondly, Jameson characterizes postmodernism as a culture of pastiche or a culture in which "the disappearance of the individual subject, along with its formal consequence, the increasing availability of personal style, engender the well-high universal practice today" (16). Pastiche is the imitation of a peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a linguistic mask, speech in a dead language" (17). This has created a culture in which "cultural production" is "born out of cultural production" (192) because the culture is "suffering from 'historical amnesia'" (Storey, 2009, 193). Finally, Jameson argues that the postmodern culture is "a hopelessly commercial culture" that is "marked by an 'essential triviality'"(Storey, 2009, 194).


Jameson defines modernist pop music as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, while postmodernist pop music is punk rock and new wave. Goodwin, however, argues that there are too many differences in individual bands to make comparisons, but instead suggests that the technological development of 'sampling' is a better test. But sampling isn't enough because "we need categories to add to pastiche" (Storey, 2009, 197). It becomes more about the understanding of the "'historicizing function of sampling technologies in contemporary pop'" (Storey, 2009, 197).


Unlike music, "television does not have a period of modernism to which it can be post" (Storey, 2009, 198). Collins (1992) argues that television is the epitome of postmodern culture. Collins uses the television show Twin Peaks as an example of a postmodern show that "constitutes an audience as bricoleurs and is watched in turn by an audience who celebrate the programme's bricolage" (Storey, 2009, 198). Collins argues that Twin Peaks at the ecomonic level it targeted a new audience and the multi-eclectic style of the show marketed itself,along with the ability to market related products. Twin Peaks was really the beginning of the television culture that we continue to see today. Now almost every major televsion show has a presence outside of the show airtime. Some of this might include a website, blogs by the characters, fan sites, a store for the show (buy a Michael Scott T-shirt), a wikipedia page, and an online collective intellegence site that allows views to globally participate in the bricolage. Understanding the extent and reach of a television show makes it easier to understand the existence of hyperrealism. Probably one of the most recent shows most similar to Twin Peaks was Lost.


Lyotard tells us that we are moving away from the metanarratives that have dictated 'truth" this changing the face of knowledge. Basically, we have moved away from absolutes and into perspectives. Baudrillard' theory of simulation also confirms this move away from absolutes into a 'hyperreal' world. While Lyotard and Baudrillard seem to have a possitive outlook on postmodernism, Jameson shows us that the lack of center can be a confusing and unstable world calling it a culture that cannot remember its history. The binding themes in all of the theories are a lack of center to our culture, the combining of high and low culture, and the ability of those in the margin to be heard.

With all that is going on this weekend, I would like to pose a couple of personal analytical questions that might make responding easier. Using Baudrillard's theory of hyperrealism, how do you experience hyperrealism in your life? What evidence of this do you leave behind?


  1. My last few posts have been late, so like Robert last week, I'm going to step up a bit and be among the first to comment.

    I disagree with the negativity surrounding the concepts of hyperrealism and pastiche. (I especially disagree with Baudrillard's contempt for Disneyland. Dude just needs to drop the intellectual bullshit and learn how to enjoy a damn roller coaster.) The idea that identical copies of a valued object--in this case I'll use the DVD example--deteriorate the value and informed cultural knowledge of the original object is an attempt to maintain the distinction between high/low art and culture while recognizing that objects like DVDs are produced and distributed en masse. Pastiche is nothing more than a lamentation of far-flung influences succeeding over art created and critiqued in a cultural vacuum. Cornel West is absolutely correct in his assertion that rap "is no subject expressing originary anguish here but a fragmented subject, pulling from past and present, innovatively producing a heterogeneous product. The stylistic combination of the oral, the literate, and the musical is exemplary." (CTPC p.198) I would extend that to encompass pretty much all art forms of the last 30 or so years because they all demonstrate a variety of influences. It is true that some artists are blatant in how they cite their sources (ie: Quentin Tarantino or the Beastie Boys), but if you listen to any artists talk about their work, they will always celebrate their predecessors and acknowledge how nothing is brand new, but they are extending and interpreting what came before them.

  2. This week, Caroline asks: “how do you experience [Baudrillard’s theory of] hyperrealism in your life? What evidence of this do you leave behind?”

    I definitely escape my day-to-day life through the cinema. My favorite genre of film is horror; I especially enjoy that subgenre of horror films that utilizes documentary form / “found footage” of some incident in which there are few or no survivors. The Blair Witch Project (1999) is the hallmark film of this subgenre, and recent endeavors like Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield, Quarantine, and Paranormal Activity 2 demonstrate the viability and financial potential of this form (indeed, the woods, the big city, your home – nowhere is safe from monsters, ghosts, mass viruses, or cameras!).

    These films succeed for a number of reasons, but I’d like to argue for two in particular. On one hand, it is our fascination with the uncanny that draws us in as viewers. While watching, my deepest fears – both conscious and unconscious – are revealed, and that is thrilling and frightening all at once – even more so if you are experiencing this in a dark theater surrounded by strangers. On the other hand, this particular form of film transforms viewers into voyeurs who are, via the camera’s all-knowing gaze, “transported” to the scene of the incident: able to “see” more fully than ever before through this form, yet still safely distant from the happenings being captured.

    I think this example works well to answer the question of how one might experience the hyperreal. As Baudrillard writes, “it is no longer a question of imitation, nor reduplication, nor even of parody. It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself; that is, an operation to deter every real process by its operational double, a metastable, programmic, perfect descriptive machine which provides all the signs of the real and short-circuits all its vicissitudes” (ST 480). “Found footage” disguises itself as something real and unembellished. Indeed, I must disclose that I somehow missed the Blair Witch phenomenon when it originally came out, caught it on television late one night years later, and actually believed that it was true (until I saw the credits!). I know I’m not the only person who bought into it: and if I did so without being exposed to the marketing campaign, just imagine how many people (including some of you, perhaps!) believed. Just take a look at the film’s original website, which still exists and cites the “ten tapes found by students from the University of Maryland’s Anthropology Department” (

    So as we can readily see, lines between real and imaginary, fact and fiction become blurred as that which is uncanny is simulated, then discovered and published as “footage” to be marketed, and often consumed, as something genuine. Much like Disneyland, the world constructed and represented in “found footage” is meant to somehow conceal that which truly frightens us in the “real” world (ST 483). We escape war, poverty, incurable diseases, even the monotony of every day (which can be quite frightening) by escaping into a world where the people suffering from these things are “elsewhere,” if not unacknowledged and absent altogether (ST 483). In the interim, monsters and ghosts serve as signifiers to simultaneously delight and terrorize.

  3. I am terrorized by “reality”. A so-called world that only exists inside of screens and video footage simultaneously captivates and scares the life out of its viewers. I live inside of screens and outside of them and I cannot escape the multiplicity of perceptions that splinter in a jagged pile of shattered mirrors. My memories are fragments of illusions; I piece together a mosaic that amounts to the sum of my experiences. Yet, for all I think I know, wisely I know I know not.

    Matter does not matter. I make it shatter. I twirl it in my mouth spit it out and make it scatter.

    Hyperrealism is a comical idea to me but I get what J.B. was driving at when he tried to explain a phenomenon that human beings have experienced ever since they realized they were smart enough to think. I sit and type this in a room right now and have no idea what is going on in the apartment right next to me. The only thing that separates me from what is over there is a little sheet rock, yet me and whoever is in this room right next to me are essentially in the same place. But I still don’t know what the hell is going on over there, or should I say right here. Now let me consult the Google, type in “Libyan Conflict” and see what I come up with. I find an article with a photo which shows a pile of dirt, some dude in all black walking all by his lonesome in this dirtpile with smoke billowing over his pitiful head. The caption under the picture reads, “Libyan rebel fighters take cover as a bomb dropped by an airforce fighter jet explodes near a checkpoint on the outskirts of the oil town of Ras Lanuf.” So now I know more about something that happened thousands of miles away than what is going on in the room right next to me. Do I? Is that caption really depicting what happened at the moment the picture was taken? Maybe it does and maybe it does not, but how do I really know?

    These realities only exist tangibly in the imagination of the mind. Its fine if you want to call it reality, hyperreality of whatever, but know that it is all an illusion. We exist in multiple dimensions that are accessible if we know how to tune in to the frequencies. When I turn off the TV the images cease to exist in my sight and that does not mean they are not there but I am not drawing them into my “reality”. At the same time there are thousands of frequencies broadcasting everything from teletubbies to hardcore porn right here as I sit. What about the real? Are there spirits, entities and other various thought-beings occupying this space too? Paranormal activity anyone? Spooky…..

    Baudrillard writes, “to dissimulate is to feign not what one has. To simulate is to feign to have what to have what one hasn’t” (ST, 480). What do we actually have? In our state of consciousness we as individuals who recognize our difference and mortality have only what we can grasp in our conceptual hands. At the same time this recognition of what is mine separates me from everything else in the universe, which in actuality I am still connected to and a part of, the pure essence that is. In that sense, everything we do is a simulation because thoughts, words and deeds are just inadequate substitutions for something that is unexplainable but only somewhat understood when we attempt to explain it. If this post made no sense to you don’t worry, it wasn’t meant to.

  4. Post-modernism arose in the 1960s as a response to hegemonic high culture of the capitalist society, which dominated pop culture in the 1950s and before. As Storey points out, there are three predominant theorists, all of which define postmodernism in a different way. Jean Baudrillard, a French postmodern theorist particularly grasped my attention with his article Simulacra and Simulations: Disneyland. Specifically, Baudrillard’s concept of simulation as enveloping “the whole edifice of representation as itself a simulacrum” affects how an image is portrayed by an individual (ST, 480). That is a simulation threatens what is true or false and what is real or imaginary. Simulations, according to Baudrillard are, “ the generation by models of a real without origins or reality: a hyperreal (CTPC, 187). Here, Baudrillard lists the successive phases of the image beginning with the fact that the image is a reflection of a basic reality. Next, the image acts to mask and pervert a basic reality, then, the image masks the absence of a basic reality. Finally, Baudrillard concludes that the image “bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pore simulacrum” (ST, 482). That is Disneyland offers a hyperrealism. Hyperrealism exists when there is no original source of reality but only a simulacrum, that is, an identical copy without an original. Therefore, Disneyland serves a “social function,” which ultimately conceals “the fact that real childishness is everywhere” (CTPC, 190). In this sense, it is possible to recognize the hyperreal in my own life, specifically, as Baudrillard applies the theory to news or media events. That is, seeing is believing. The Egyptian protests aired day in and day out on news media channels, making that occurrence a real event. Rather than secondarily reporting on the event, Anderson Cooper was right in the middle of the swarming mobs of Egyptians getting pushed around. This example proves Baudrillard’s point that what image we see is not true reality but acts as a reflection of the occurrence and in many cases, such as news reports in Egypt, helps to mediate reality.

  5. Food: this is one area in which I think we can experience and encounter the “hyperreal” everyday.

    For example, just walk into a gas station, and take note of the culinary options before you. So much of the convenience food could be interpreted as simulacrum or copies “without an original” (CTPC 187). One example that comes to mind would be cheese puffs; what exactly are they supposed to be? Honestly, I’m not sure. Are they supposed to be a mass-produced pieces of fried cheese? Are they supposed to be roundish cheese-flavored pieces of pop-corn? Something else? When you think about it, cheese puffs are not really copies of any of these; cheese puffs are just cheese puffs. My point is that they are copies of something cheesy, but we can never really be sure what the original was. Perhaps there was some original, home-cooked recipe from which the modern cheese puff derived, but the point is that we don’t know what that is anymore.

    Another example in our grocery stories that comes to mind is Cool Whip. This product is a copy of a copy; it is basically a healthier copy of something like Reddi Whip, which itself is a copy of whipped cream. As a kid, I knew what Cool Whip and Reddi Whip were long before I knew what real whipped cream was.

    Also consider Easy Cheese. As a kid, (and this is embarrassing), if you would have given me a choice between a cracker with real mild cheddar and Easy Cheese mild cheddar, I would easily have preferred the one with Easy Cheese (probably because I saw so many advertisements for it in stores and on TV commercials). This preference might be an example of what Baudrillard calls the “precession of simulacra” (ST 480), in which the copy begins to “precede” the original—in this case, me the kid preferring the copy over the real thing.

    In so much of these food products, “the distinction between simulation and the ‘real’ implodes; the ‘real’ and the imaginary continually collapse into each other” (CTPC 187).

  6. First, thanks to Caroline for her relevant and entertaining video examples of hyperrealism. Second, in response to her question about how I experience hyperrealism in my daily life, my response is that my whole life is an adventure in the concept. How do I really know what I am experiencing is, in fact, “real?”

    In thinking about Caroline’s question, I get paranoid visions of The Truman Show (which I believe we have talked about in class before) or an old episode of the Twilight Zone where the life experiences of a specific townspeople were actually enacted as human pets belonging to a giant. How can we be certain that what we experience is real or if it is a copy with no original? If we woke up one morning and the cardboard facades fell down around us, would that change our perception of reality? Would our experiences be somehow less authentic? Despite their originality, our experiences are still our own. Without a doubt, we have lived the life we have lived. With that in mind, I am not certain how insulting the concept of hyperrealism actually is. It seems the previous posters have been somewhat bothered by the idea. I say, so what if there is no original for the copies we experience? So what if just about EVERY movie, television series, book, retail store, or city is a copy of something else. That does not change our interactions with the copy. That does not make our experiences less authentic. It does bring up some questions about reality and originality, but I am not certain if the answers to these questions actually matter or if they trivialize our experiences.

    Yes, little is actually "real" in our subjective realities. Why does that matter? How many times have you experienced something and denied that it happened? Does the phrase, “That did not just happen” resonate with anyone? While I completely agree with Baudrillard and other scholars on the Disneyfication of society, I am just not sure I agree with the problematic associated with it.

  7. This past weekend I saw the movie Paul. The movie is basically about two British comic-book geeks traveling across the U.S. who encounter an alien outside Area 51. As I watched the movie, I found myself comparing my perception of the validity of Paul, the alien, to other alien characters in movies like E.T., Predators, and Star Wars. In addition, I also found myself searching my mental movie and television index to piece together information I knew about Area 51.

    I mention this example because it serves as a good example of Baudrillard’s theory of hyperrealism and how the real and the imaginary “collapse into each other” (CTPC 187). In his discussion of the truth we assign to copies or images, Boudrillard notes that the image “bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pore simulacrum” (ST, 482). In other words, over time, the image takes on a life of its own and is able to stand on its own without the necessity of connecting it back to the original. Though the notion of UFOs and extra-terrestrials date back to around 240 B.C., most people don’t base their understandings on historical documents; we think of the movies we saw as kids. Paul was a believable alien to me because he looked similar to E.T. For the purpose of this assignment, I even googled alien in google images and the majority of the images were from popular movies. In this way, the line between what is real and imaginary is indeed blurred.

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  9. POSTMODERN COMEDY at its best

    MR. SHOW

    "God's Book on Tape" starring Robert Evans (Bob Odenkirk) as God

    "East Coast vs. West Coast Ventriloquism"

    "Human Worth"

    "The Audition"

    "The Civil War Re-Reenactments"


    "Into the Doors"

    "The Dr. Seuss Bible"

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  11. Yesterday, I woke up and fell out of bed or, shall I say, woke up and suspected that it was end of the world as I knew it. After all a lot's been going on in the world these days. I went into the kitchen and threw some eggs in the skillet, but realized when they were finished that I was out of my Emeril Lagasse Cajun seasoning. I could have made my own but I trust that Emeril knows what he's doing. After all, he's on the Food Network. I guess I'll have to use salt and pepper.

    I turned on the news and found a dark-haired gent with glasses wagging his fingers at the NPR. "Why would a newscaster do this?" I asked myself. I quickly realized that I wasn't watching Neil Cavuto on Fox News but Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central. Sly Devil-I mean, whatta sheister. (Damn! Why can't my generation create their own phrases?!). I finished my eggs and decided to go for a bike ride. To the wardrobe closet. I grabbed my vintage T-Shirt and industrially aged jeans, complemented with my retro Puma's. I went out to the garage and jumped on my 50s-style beach cruiser - pastel green with custom wheel guards, or at least that's what the brochure said.

    Today was a day for sight seeing. I drove by the Pyramid downtown, saddened that the Bass Pro Shop had yet to inhabit the ghost-town-like edifice. After biking north downtown for a while, I grew tired and decided to take the trolley toward Beale. It sure is slow and hardly functional but, damn, I feel like I was on Main at the turn of last century! Biking sure does burn a lot of calories, so I decided to grab some lunch. Let's see, where do I go? Ahhhh, Hard Rock Cafe! I haven't seen Stevie Ray Vaughn's guitar in some time. Also, I think it's in every American's interest to see what Gene Simmons wore when he played Cobo Hall in 1977. After downing my chicken wing's and Coke served in a soda fountain-style glass, I hopped on my bike and decided that I needed some entertainment. I went to Black Lodge and found a Criterion Collection box set of Quentin Tarantino's films. On the way home, I popped in my iPod and hit the bike playlist: Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, and Portishead. After trucking along to "Sour Times" by Portishead's lovely chartreuse, I saw a magnificent site. Is that......BANKSY GRAFFITI ART?! I didn't know he was in town. I guess Memphis ain't so bad, after all.

    I stopped by the local Starbucks and enjoyed my caramel Frappacino while sitting in my faux-bamboo patio chair listening to a Lou Reed track. Turns out it wasn't Lou Reed but a sample of "Walk on the Wild Side" some rapper with a raspy Brooklyn accent. "Who are these guys?" I asked the barista. "Tribe Called Quest," she ebulliently answered. I could have bought the compilation CD at the counter, but I bet I can get that on iTunes for $1 cheaper...

    After soaking up the sun for a bit, I decided that the day was done. I went to my local beer emporium and picked up a choice 6-pack of Flying Dog "In Heat Wheat" ale. I love the fact that Ralph Steadman can find work after his collaboration with the good Dr. Gonzo. Back home and dinner time. Let's see. Campbell's tomato soup: check. Kashi Indian-style frozen dinner: check. 5 minutes later, I was ready to grub. I guess I could watch "Pulp Fiction," but I can save it for tomorrow. Fight Club's on HBO. I am Jack's post-modern parody.

    In bed and ready for some sleep. I have trouble sleeping these days. Better put on the sleep machine. 12 different settings. I like the "thunderstorm" one. I was getting ready to flip it on when it started thundering and lightening. "Well," I said, "I guess I can 'go for the real thing.' " :-)

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  13. When engaging in this week’s readings, thinking similarly to Mark’s post about the hyperrealism of food, I kept thinking back to this bottled water commercial I saw several times this past week (sorry, as the name of the brand has slipped my mind). I have been thinking about this commercial ever since one of my students gave a persuasive speech on drinking tap water and discussed the persuasive tactics used by bottled water companies to try to get you to buy bottled water. My student made this important note and as I also wonder the same; other than purification systems, what are the clear differences between different brands of bottled water and any other types of water for that matter? All bottled water advertisements are competing to get you to buy the “real” thing. The ad, in particular, that I am thinking of but can’t find the commercial on the internet (sorry), conveys the message that bottled water is pure and is better than the real thing. This substitute becomes the real in the advertisement…making consumers believe they need to have a gulp of what is perceived to be the “real” best choice for hydration. Even the rest of the commercial pinpoints this idea of substitute water as the real, as children are shown playing in water sprinklers and pools- in which the water supply is not the real river or ocean, but rather a substitute which has become the real - the norm to consider what is real. Storey reminds us that hyperrealism presents us with “the substitution of an image for the real thing” (p. 188); instead of swimming in real lake/river/ocean water, humans jump into the illusion of the real lake/ocean by swimming in a chlorine-filled tub. Similarly, people fulfill the need of hydration by drinking water out of petroleum manufactured bottles in which they believe the illusion that the water is more purified when manufactured into bottle form- thus advertisements promote the idea of purity, better hydration, and more complete oneness/fullness when one drinks the supposed “real” bottled option.
    I was also taken by something Storey specifically notes about Baudrillard’s hyperreality: that “hyperreality thus calls into question the claims of representation, both political and cultural. If there is no real behind the appearance, no beyond or beneath, what can be called with validity a representation?” (p. 190). I find this assertion to be both confusing and scary at the same time. I find it to be confusing because as a poststructuralist feminist media critic, I have been taught that representations are not the real (even though others may perceive them to be); yet these representations may have implications in real life, thus providing relevance and pertinence to studying such media discourses. Secondly, I find it to be scary to think of representations as the same as reality, it seems then hard to differentiate between examining discourses and reality; but more troublesome, for non-academic thinkers, is the idea that the real is in fact “real” in all areas of being, including popular culture. I provide the example of Reality TV, in which many viewers may believe the show is part of the real - actually broadcasting reality. Even though many persons may believe popular culture to be the real, it is scary to believe in a concept where no difference is seen between the imaginary and the real. But as many of our readings thus far in this semester have touched upon, many theorists do, indeed, believe that, similar to representations and the real, the imaginary can be the same as the real.

  14. Caroline, thank you for the inclusion of Twin Peaks introduction. There are many aspects of that show that lend itself to hyperrealism.

    Perhaps one of my most embarrassing moments involving hyperrealism was when I watched the movie Good Will Hunting. During the time I watched the movie, not only was I a custodial at the university, but I was also taking a course in mathematics. I experienced within myself, “a hyperreal henceforth sheltered from the imaginary, and from any distinction between the real and the imaginary, leaving room only for the orbital recurrence of models and simulated generation of difference” (ST, p. 480). Probably due to a severe lack of sleep and poor nutritional habits, I identified so much with “Will” that I failed to see the distinction between his knowledge and my own, which did not reflect well when on my grades for my mathematics exam the next morning. His character type was designed to be an imitation of a young custodial worker. The young custodial worker (me) then incorporates this copy of a copy disastrously into her own life.

    What’s frightening about this example is not my prolonged lapse of good judgment, but how easily knowledge is reproduced. I can easily identify The Onion, the picture of my grandparents as a photocopy of a photo taken from real life, or the hundreds of books that fill my apartment all as copies. What I have a harder time distinguishing is what is “accurate knowledge” versus what is “inaccurate knowledge.” To some degree, this goes beyond what we read about through Lyotard. Often times individuals will accept what they have read in fictional books or historical movies (not documentaries) as fact. The copy of the copy becomes how incidents are depicted and remembered. One outlandish example of this can be seen in the xkcd cartoon, found here: Knowledge about the Oregon Trail no longer becomes taken from history books which are taken from personal accounts, but instead the knowledge comes from the books, which are based on the primary material. The original source is lost and our knowledge becomes simulated.

  15. I actually spend a lot of my time attempting to escape hyperreality, “the generation by models of a real without origin or reality” (ST, 480). I got rid of my television in 2002; I avoid movies; and try to only listen to live music (not a recording of a live show, actual live shows). You don’t realize how much of people lives revolve around television until you don’t have one. People are constantly having conversations about what happened this week on this or that show. The way people talk about the characters or events are as if they are real. They sympathize, are angered at, or worried about these “people.” They talk about them as if they were friends or family members. Can't wait to see what happens next week. It is disturbing! Not having a TV, people treat me as though I am disabled. You would understand if you just watched a couple episodes. Here I have an extra TV, you can have it. Please take it. I don’t want a television! And hyperreality is not “intellectual bullshit” as Kevin so eagerly derides Baudrillard. If Disneyland was only about roller coaster rides, then there wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is they are selling a reality; they are “The happiest place on earth.” Google it. They are the first hit, so it must be true. Disney seems to have changed tactics since Baudrillard (1983) essay, “Disneyland is presented as imaginary” (ST, 483). In the intro video to “Let the Memories begin”( Disney claims in a moving title “The Magic becomes real.” The website doesn’t highlight roller coasters, it features pictures of kid kissing Mickey Mouse and hugging Cinderella. At Disneyland, cartoons are real and you can experience their adventures. You become a part of the story. You can learn how Walt Disney brought the story of Mary Poppins to “life.” Then you can met Mary Poppins, see the show, ride the ride and experience the “reality” of the living Mary Poppins. I guess a question would be: “What happens when the imaginary no longer has to hide behind its mask, and blatantly presents itself as the real?”

  16. It seems to me that one of the ongoing issues in critical theory is the issue of language. Specifically, there is the issue of the limitations of language. No symbol system can express or capture the reality it seeks to convey. This becomes a problem in critical discourse or any theoretical discourse because the theorist must nuance terms to operationalize them and to set them apart from other terms or even prior uses of the same term. For example, it is difficult to understand modern apart from an understanding of contemporary. Thus, it becomes even more difficult to understand post-modern because the working definition seems to suggest being in the here and now - the real context. The modern then seems to appeal to some kind of established standard that is rooted in the past. Yet other definitions of the post-modern seem to appeal to what is to come or what is emerging, but not yet established. Of course, I understand that all of this simply highlights the slipperiness of language. However, it also seems to replicate the very relationship it would critique, which is to say modern/post-modern or structuralist/post-structuralist embodies elements of superstructure/base, or subject/object, or sovereign/subject. Terms have meaning only in relationship to other terms. It's just an observation I wanted to highlight.

    I was struck by Baudrillard's playfulness in creating a quote and attributing it to Ecclesiastes. I knew that the passage was fiction and a quick bit of research confirmed my suspicion. It seems Baudrillard admits as much. Yet, it highlights an interesting aspect of human cognition. Much can be legitimated simply by appealing to the the divine authority or, at least, established authority. Mythos is powerful and enduring. In this case, Ecclesiastes is not a frequently read biblical text. So, attributing a quote to that book of the Bible is likely to go unchallenged. This seems to be the point about matters of legitimacy and delegitimation.

    Finally, what about the hyperreal? I frequently argue that a failure of imagination is at the root of many conflicts and the inability to resolve those conflicts. So, it seems important to have the capacity for calling the things that are not as though they were. This is how I understand the hyperreal. We teach a version of this when we explain Monroe's Motivated Sequence to speech student's. A key step is the visualization step. The audience must see themselves doing the action proposed. It seems to me also, if I am understanding the hyperreal correctly, that any of us who embrace spirituality embrace hyperreal. Here I concur with C.S. Lewis that I cannot prove the efficacy of prayer. However, I find great comfort in prayer.