virus: Simulacrum

Bill Godby (
Mon, 13 May 1996 00:20:05 -0400

At 04:37 PM 5/12/96 +0000, Ken Pantheists wrote:

>There is a third possibility- the simulacrum. That is a simulation with
>no original. I have heard this word used in reference to all the subtle
>simulations, copies, *theatre* that goes on in public and social
>discourses. For example- I live right across the street from a high
>school and every day at 3:15 I seee a sea of black and white clothes.
>Black t-shirts, white jeans, black and white adidas. All are copies of
>something, all are simulating something (calvin klein commercials?) but
>there is no detectable original.

I'd like to elucidate the above defintion of simulacrum since I believe it's
rather important to our discussions. A simulcra is a recontextualization of
an image/idea whereupon the meaning of the original is subverted and no
longer entirely applicable. The power of a simulacra lies in the familiar
image being used out of context, thus creating the subverted meaning. This
word is often used when describing the postmodern ethos. The currency of
images and their recirculation has become increasingly great with increases
in technology and media. Images are manipulated so frequently that meaning
is continually in flux. The simulation or simulacra is a hallmark of the
postmodern world. Not to wander off into a huge discourse about this, the
point as it relates to recent discussions is that simulacrum certainly point
away from notions of truth and objectivity, rather they seem to suggest that
truth is created within a context. This is the ultimate power of the
simulacra, it takes a comfortable well known image, removes it from its
context and redefines it, for whatever purpose it may serve be it money or
art, i.e. advertisers manipulate images relying upon the "feelings" that
these images arose in people, but yet create a new meaning for it as it
relates to buying the product. Artists take familiar images and put them in
a different context where they become unreal semblances to their
counterparts to illustrate just how bound meaning is to environment or
perhaps revealing a social message in the process. It's very interesting
stuff to consider in relation to reality, memes, and culture. To close, in
reference to Marek's question, no there is no emergency escape door.
Bill Godby