I think it’s Jean Baudrillard, dead two years ago this month, who has to be our designated seer. I’ve never been much of a fan of the French postmodernists or postpostmodernists. When I read them I feel like an inchworm watching a butterfly. Whatever element they exist in is not mine. But it’s the nature of prophetic speech to become more lucid as time passes, and that, for me, is what’s happening with Baudrillard’s words. Take the following passage from a series of lectures he gave, in California, in May of 1999 (collected in the book The Vital Illusion), in which he limns our era:
Ecstasy of the social: the masses. More social than the social.
Ecstasy of information: simulation. Truer than true.
Ecstasy of time: real time, instantaneity. More present than the present.
Ecstasy of the real: the hyperreal. More real than the real.
Ecstasy of sex: porn. More sexual than sex …
Thus, freedom has been obliterated, liquidated by liberation; truth has been supplanted by verification; the community has been liquidated and absorbed by communication … Everywhere we see a paradoxical logic: the idea is destroyed by its own realization, by its own excess. And in this way history itself comes to an end, finds itself obliterated by the instantaneity and omnipresence of the event.
If a clearer depiction of realtime exists, I have not come upon it in my inchworm meanderings.
Look at that line:
Ecstasy of information: simulation. Truer than true!
How eminently quotable! Now on, all my talks with the word simulation in the title (and even some without it), will carry this quote!