Wednesday, October 22, 2008

the procession of simulacra

until recently i thought that, in addition to (the quite stunning achievement of) bringing the entire world economy to its knees, bush had managed to kill postmodernity. it's just not cool to be postmodern anymore. after real planes crash into real skyscrapers and bring them down and the US engages in real wars against an elusive foe who remains at large in a mountain hideout and a guy named saddam who wasn't really involved, but had the disadvantage of having wronged dubya's daddy, it just seemed like there was no more room for unreality and the simulacra and the simulation. those buildings collapsing were simply all too real.

however, i have had to admit in recent weeks that postmodernism (which i always had quite a soft spot for (reality is, after all, frequently inaccurate)) is alive and well.  just a quick reminder as to one of the main tenants of postmodernity, from our good old friend frederic jameson,--there is "a new kind of superficiality and depthlessness" present in the postmodern condition. additionally, there is a blurring of lines between reality and unreality (that's my favorite part). to try to make it tangible--does the constructed "america" represented by disneyland end up more real than the real america? hmm....i think it might be better to turn to the "real" world to explain what i'm getting at...

consider, sarah palin's appearance on SNL. an appearance in which she attempted to take the piss with the one taking the piss with her. incidentally, i read an article in which tina fey said that she had never really known of a satirical sketch of a political figure where it was possible to lift virtually the entire dialogue directly from what the politician said without tweeking it at all for humorous effect. tina fey does sarah palin better than palin herself does. now THAT's postmodern.  as baudrilliard (one of the kings of postmodern theory) says, "...an implosion of meaning. this is where simulation begins." lines are blurred and politics is entertainment. the mocked becomes the mocker and the mocker the mocked. reality blurs into the unrecognizable.

another example is all of this talk about the "real" america (which seems to mean the bits that will vote for mcpalin). it's so absurd now that there is a "real" virginia and an unreal one (don't really know where west virginia fits into that equation). and a pro-america america and one (apparently the part that can actually THINK) that's the anti-america america (damn those of us who went to U of C). see, postmodern:  at once in and not in. the center has shifted and we can no longer identify what's real and what's unreal.

but, don't take my word for it, check out jon stewart:

8 comments:

Amanda said...

ok, once again you hit the nail on the head. The Jon Stewart clip is perfect.

I like following the election in my own country thru your blog much better then thru our own media!

ps, Jon Stewart has aged very nicely! I haven't laid eyes on him lately.

julochka said...

he's awesome. we have the daily show here too, but they're about a week old. i got these from huffington post today, then went to comedy central and watched them all. he's so smart. but i think he might be freakishly short.

enchantedartist said...

Well...I couldn't get the video clip to play, but I can say that I often find myself dumbfounded by the craziness that is going on with all this right now...Reality is definately blurred at times...

tangobaby said...

The Daily Show is one of the few things that is keeping me from resorting to drugs to get through the day.

When I found out that I wasn't a "real" American, I was so discouraged. Here I've been, working hard, paying taxes and caring about the future of our country. And I wasn't even in the running.

One thing I'd love to ask John Stewart is what he thinks of McCain now. If you go back to past years of the DS, McCain was quite a frequent guest on the show (yes, look it up, it's true) and they seemed to have quite a rapport.

TheElementary said...

You're doing a great service by posting this links to articles and clips.
I like your comments about "unreality"-
I've been reading the Huffington Post a lot lately and on occasion my breath gets completely taken away for a moment by the absurdity of something I watch or read. I doesn't seem real; it seems like an awful dream, one we can't wake from just yet, one that couldn't possibly exist in the real world.
It will be a long, long two weeks. Your words will help me to cope ;)

TheElementary said...

oops. I meant to say "It" doesn't seem real ;) I'm real. I think!

julochka said...

i just watched another episode of the daily show on DR2 (they're about a week old) and i gotta tell you, it's what's getting me through this madness. i think it's also reassuring to me that i'm no longer considered a "real" american. :-) ha! funny how comforting that feels at the moment.

thank you all for your thoughts...we'll get through this together, i'm sure we will! :-)

woolanthropy said...

I like how you think...and write too. Thank you for your intelligent insights. It's scary over here. I am scared of the "real" Americans.