Return to “The I”
I realize that Baudrillard is much more complex than the following would indicate. However, his thought on simulation is necessarily abreviated for use here.
I have all this extra time to think now that I sit in my apartment waiting for my ankle to repair itself. Isn’t it interesting that I reference my ankle as though it is “the other.” It’s as if I sit here in my easy chair next to the antique end table Rebecca bought in October 1955, and my ankle, a separate object, rests on top of the old drop leaf table placed against the wall across from me. How might I word my first statement to refer to myself as a whole entitty without a cumbersome concatenation of words?
“I have all this extra time to think now that I am waiting for my ankle to heal.”
That’s better. But, why did I not say it that way the first time?
What Is this separation of “the I” from it’s physical parts that I performed? As an old Postmodern artist, why am I so aware of this alienation of “the I” that it dominates the very way I think and write? It is as though I know at a subliminal level that “the I,” the Modern act of creation has been degraded, and can no longer exist.
My art, the Silver Man, and, I guess my writing too - about the alternate reality I actually live in part of the time, Varnastrama - are referential. They are both based in part on reflections (pun intended) of my own life. And, they, like my referenced, separate ankle, are poor copies of my “real” life as an 84 year old homosexual man living here at Pine Needle Manor Retirement home.
According to Baudrillard, and many others, these simulations replace my actual existence. The very existence of this blog, one of an infinite number of other hypertexts
, simulations of the real world that exist outside of the physical world in “cyberspace” - itself a fictitious concept of space created by William Gibson in Neuromancer
- put the “real” world to question because they replace the physical pen and paper, canvas, pencils, film, and camera that I used to create the original art work and journals. Thus, I, and the original work I created do not exist. At the same time, “ the I” the concept or idea of the individual, and originality in the Modern
sense cannot exist.
It is an interesting idea, but of course I know subjectively that I do exist, at least for a little while longer. However, the ideation about these simulations as applied to the time in which I live is an interesting tool with which to understand how each of us (unless we make ourselves more aware and more active) is increasingly less important to the larger scheme of things, and, how some (I think) are using the idea of simulation as an instrument to achieve their own political and social ends.
I believe, for instance, that the strategists of the extreme right Republican Party, religious and other wise, ie Karl Rove for one, harness the power of multitudinous copies to alter our understanding of diurnal political and soicial existence. Put simply - if you say a false thing (reads “copies of reality”) often enough and in as many different versions as possible - it will exist. The original real or (I like to say, “actual” ) thing that existed before the plethora of inaccurate simulations will no longer exist.
An actual instance of the practice of replacing actuality with “copies of reality” exists in the proposition that Weapons of Mass Destruction WMD actually existed in Iraq. I live with many people that believe to this day that they do exist and are hidden deep in the dessert of Iraq. In fact, my own daughter believes WMD exist.
Another instance of this practice is the religious right’s insistence that marriage is a performance that must be limited to a man and a woman. If it is not so limited, they tell us the entire fabric of Western Civilization will unravel. This metaphorrific version of our civilization as rotten cloth is a fabrication. Our culture is much more resilient than this “copy of reality” would have us believe, and has survived and thrived on change after change for over 2000 years, including the fall of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations.
In short, we each do exist. However, “the I” can only exist in this Postmodern world if we each exert as much energy and effort on physical space and time through individual acts of original creation. Thus, through individual efforts the Postmodern will return full circle and become the Modern once again. Or, perhaps through these personal efforts of origination the Postmodern will be left behind. At least, I suspect that at some point in time, culture, art, and communications theorists will be able to look back and say, “Here is where the anticipatory ‘pre, anti, or proto something’ began.”
*Baudrillard, Jean. "The Precession of Simulacra." Art After Modernism: Rethinking Representation. Ed. Brian Wallis. Vol. 1. Documentary sources in contemporary art. New York: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1984. (reprinted from Art & Text, no. 11 (September 1983): 3-47)
The image of Jean Baudrillard was taken from “Jean Baudrillard: A Bibliography,” http://sun3.lib.uci.edu/~scctr/Wellek/baudrillard/, visited 5:30 A.M. EST, 12/7/03.
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