Simulacrum

Simulacrum (plural: -crums, -cra), from the Latin simulare, "to make like, to put on an appearance of",[1] is first recorded in the English language in the late 16th century, used to describe a representation of another thing, such as a statue or a painting, especially of a god; by the late 19th century, it had gathered a secondary association of inferiority: an image without the substance or qualities of the original.[2] Philosopher Frederic Jameson offers photorealism as an example of artistic simulacrum, where a painting is created by copying a photograph that is itself a copy of the real.[3] Other art forms that play with simulacra include Trompe l'oeil,[4] Pop Art, Italian neorealism and the French New Wave.[5]

Simulacrum in philosophy

The simulacrum has long been of interest to philosophers. In his Sophist, Plato speaks of two kinds of image-making. The first, faithful reproduction, attempted to copy precisely the original. The second distorted intentionally in order to make the copy appear correct to viewers. He gives an example of Greek statuary, which was crafted larger on top than bottom so that viewers from the ground would see it correctly. If they could view it in scale, they would realize it was malformed. This example from visual arts serves as a metaphor for philosophical arts and the tendency of some philosophers to distort truth in such a way that it appeared accurate unless viewed from the proper angle.[6] Nietzsche addresses the concept of simulacrum in The Twilight of the Idols, suggesting that most philosophers, by ignoring the reliable input of their senses and resorting to the constructs of language and reason, arrive at a distorted copy of reality.[7] Modern French social theorist Jean Baudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. Where Plato saw two steps of reproduction — faithful and intentionally distorted (simulacrum) — Baudrillard sees four: (1) basic reflection of reality, (2) perversion of reality; (3) pretense of reality (where there is no model); and (4) simulacrum, which “bears no relation to any reality whatever.” Baudrillard uses the concept of god as an example of simulacrum.[8] In Baudrillard’s concept, like Nietzsche’s, simulacra are negatively perceived, but another modern philosopher who addressed the topic, Gilles Deleuze, takes a different view, seeing simulacra as the avenue by which accepted ideals or “privileged position” could be “challenged and overturned.”[9]

Simulacrum in literature, film, and television

Simulacra often make appearances in speculative fiction. Examples of simulacra in the sense of artificial or supernaturally created life forms include Ovid’s ivory statue from Metamorphoses, the medieval golem of Jewish folklore, Mary Shelley’s creature from Frankenstein, Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio and the synthetic life in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (later adapted for film by Ridley Scott as Blade Runner). Simulacra of worlds or environments may also appear: author Michael Crichton visited this theme several times, in Westworld and in Jurassic Park; other examples include the elaborately staged worlds of The Truman Show and The Matrix. Some stories focus on simulacra as objects. One example would be Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray.

For examples of critical analyses of simulacra in written or dramatic form, see External links, below.

Simulacrum and recreation

Recreational simulacra include reenactments of historical events or replicas of landmarks, such as Colonial Williamsburg, and constructions of fictional or cultural ideas, such as Fantasyland at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. The various Disney parks have by some philosophers been regarded as the ultimate recreational simulacra, with Baudrillard noting that Walt Disney World Resort is a copy of a copy, “a simulacrum to the second power.”[10] In 1975, Italian author Umberto Eco expressed his belief that at Disney’s parks, “we not only enjoy a perfect imitation, we also enjoy the conviction that imitation has reached its apex and afterwards reality will always be inferior to it."[11] This is for some an ongoing concern. Examining the impact of Disney’s simulacrum of national parks, Disney's Wilderness Lodge, environmentalist Jennifer Cypher and anthropologist Eric Higgs expressed worry that “the boundary between artificiality and reality will become so thin that the artificial will become the centre of moral value.”[12]

See also

References

1. ^ "Word of the Day Archive: Thursday May 1, 2003" dictionary.com [1] retrieved May 2, 2007
2. ^ "simulacrum" The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary 1993
3. ^ Massumi, Brian. "Realer than Real: The Simulacrum According to Deleuze and Guattari." [2] retrieved May 2, 2007
4. ^ Baudrillard, Jean. "XI. Holograms." Simulacra and Simulations. transl. Sheila Faria Glaser. [3] retrieved May 2, 2007
5. ^ Massumi, Brian. "Realer than Real: The Simulacrum According to Deleuze and Guattari." [4] retrieved May 2, 2007
6. ^ Plato. The Sophist. transl. Benjamin Jowett. [5] retrieved May 2, 2007
7. ^ Nietzsche, “Reason in Philosophy.” Twilight of the Idols. transl. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale. 1888. [6] retrieved May 2, 2007
8. ^ Baudrillard, Jean. excerpt Simulacra and Simulations. [7] retrieved May 2, 2007.
9. ^ Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition. transl. Paul Patton. Columbia University Press: Columbia, 1968, p. 69.
10. ^ Baudrillard, Jean. "Disneyworld Company." transl. Francois Debrix Liberation. March 4, 1996. [8] retrieved May 2, 2007.
11. ^ Eco, Umberto. "The City of Robots" Travels in Hyperreality. Reproduced in relevant portion at [9] retrieved May 2, 2007
12. ^ Cypher, Jennifer and Eric Higgs. “Colonizing the Imagination: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.” [10] retrieved May 2, 2007

External links

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Philosophy is the discipline concerned with questions of how one should live (ethics); what sorts of things exist and what are their essential natures (metaphysics); what counts as genuine knowledge (epistemology); and what are the correct principles of reasoning (logic).
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Fredric Jameson (born April 14, 1934) is an American literary critic and Marxist political theorist. He is best known for the analysis of contemporary cultural trends; he described postmodernism as the spatialization of culture under the pressure of organized capitalism.
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Photorealism is the genre of painting based on making a painting of a photograph, recently seen in a splinter hyperrealism art movement. However, the term is primarily applied to paintings from the United States photorealism art movement of the late 1960s and early to mid 1970s.
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Painting, meant literally, is the practice of applying color to a surface (support) such as paper, canvas, wood, glass, lacquer or concrete. However, when used in an artistic sense, the term "painting" means the use of this activity in combination with drawing, composition and
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photograph (often shortened to photo) is an image created by light falling on a light-sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic imager such as a CCD or a CMOS chip.
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Pop art is a visual art movement that emerged in the mid 1950s in Britain and in parallel in the late 1950s in the United States. The coinage of the term Pop Art is often credited to British art critic/curator, Lawrence Alloway in an essay titled
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Italian neorealism is a film movement characterized by stories set amongst the poor and working class, filmed in long takes on location, frequently using nonprofessional actors for secondary and sometimes primary roles.
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New Wave (French: La Nouvelle Vague) was a blanket term coined by critics for a group of French filmmakers of the late 1950s and 1960s, influenced (in part) by Italian Neorealism.
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The Sophist (Greek: Σοφιστής) is one of the late Dialogues of Plato, which was written much later than the Parmenides and the Theaetetus, probably in 360 BC.
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PLATO was one of the first generalized Computer assisted instruction systems, originally built by the University of Illinois and later taken over by Control Data Corporation (CDC), who provided the machines it ran on.
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Metaphor (from the Greek: metapherin) is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects. In the simplest case, this takes the form: "The [first subject] is a [second subject].
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Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: [ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈvilhelm ˈniːtʃə]) was a nineteenth-century German philosopher.
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Twilight of the Idols: Or, How to Philosophise with the Hammer

Cover of the 1990 Penguin Classics edition.
Author Friedrich Nietzsche
Original title Götzen-Dämmerung
Translator R.J.
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Jean Baudrillard (July 29, 1929 – March 6, 2007) (IPA pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ bo.dʀi.jaʀ][1]) was a French cultural theorist, philosopher, political commentator, and photographer.
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hyperreality characterizes the inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from fantasy, especially in technologically advanced postmodern cultures. Hyperreality is a means to characterise the way consciousness defines what is actually "real" in a world where a multitude of
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Gilles Deleuze (IPA: [ʒil dəløz]), (January 18, 1925 – November 4, 1995) was a French philosopher of the late 20th century.
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    Speculative fiction is a term which has been used in multiple related but distinct ways. Speculative fiction is a type of fiction that asks the classic "What if?" question and attempts to answer it.
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    Ovid

    Ovid as imagined in the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493.
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    Pygmalion is a Greek name. Pygmalion—or Pygmaion according to Hesychios of Alexandra—is probably a Cypriot form of Adonis, a Levantine vegetation-god.
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    Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid is a narrative poem in fifteen books that describes the creation and history of the world, drawing from Greek and Roman mythological traditions.
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    Middle Ages form the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three "ages": the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages and Modern Times.
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    In Jewish folklore, a golem (גולם, sometimes, as in Yiddish, pronounced goilem) is an animated being created entirely from inanimate matter.
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    Carlo Collodi (November 24, 1826 – october 26, 1890)

    Biography

    He was born Carlo Lorenzini in Florence.

    During the Wars of Independence in 1848 and 1860 Collodi served as a volunteer with the Tuscan army.
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    The Adventures of Pinocchio (Italian: Le avventure di Pinocchio) is a novel for children by Italian author Carlo Collodi.

    The first half was originally a serial between 1881 and 1883, and then later completed as a book for children in February
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