Postmodernity is said to be a culture of fragmentary sensations, eclectic nostalgia, disposable simulacra, and promiscuous superficiality, in which the traditionally valued qualities of depth, coherence, meaning, originality, and authenticity are evacuated or dissolved amid the random swirl of empty signals.
—  Jean Baudrillard

I absolutely love this painting.

If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a painting of a pipe by French Belgian painter René Magritte. Underneath it is a caption which reads (in French), “This is not a pipe.”

It’s easy to brush it off as simple absurdism. Of course it’s a pipe. There’s no ambiguity about it. It’s not disguised as anything else. It’s a pipe, duh. What else would it be?

Except it’s not. It’s not a pipe. It’s a picture of a pipe. We imbue it with meaning, we refer to it as if it’s the same thing as what it represents, but it’s not. It’s an image of a pipe.

Of course, that’s not entirely true, either, is it? It’s not really an image of a pipe, it’s a bunch of paint on a canvas. Even the step of saying it’s an image of a pipe involves us injecting meaning. And of course, it’s not even paint on a canvas for anyone who’s looking at it through this post—it’s a bunch of pixels which make up an image of paint on a canvas which itself represents the object we call “pipe”.

We see colored dots and we call it a pipe. But this—this is not a pipe.

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth — it is the truth which conceals that there is none.
The simulacrum is true.

-Jean Baudrillard, attributed to Ecclesiastes

edit: Magritte was Belgian, not French, as pointed out by someinfos. Thanks for the heads-up!

Melancholia is the brutal disaffection that characterizes our saturated systems. Once the hope of balancing good and evil, true and false, indeed of confronting some values of the same order, once the more general hope of a relation of forces and a stake has vanished. Everywhere, always, the system is too strong: hegemonic.

Against this hegemony of the system, one can exalt the ruses of desire, practice revolutionary micrology of the quotidian, exalt the molecular drift or even defend cooking. This does not resolve the imperious necessity of checking the system in broad daylight.


Jean Baudrillard, “On Nihilism”

Throwing it to Foucault and Deleuze.

Disneyland is there to conceal the fact that it is the ‘real’ country, all of ‘real’ America, which is Disneyland (just as prisons are there to conceal the fact that it is the social in its entirety, in its banal omnipresence, which is carceral). Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation. It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology), but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus of saving the reality principle.
—  Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulations



1. Biology: a) a cell, cell product, or organism that is genetically identical to the unit or individual from which it was derived. b) a population of identical units, cells, or individuals that derive from the same ancestral line.

2. a person or thing that duplicates, imitates, or closely resembles another in appearance, function, performance or style.

"To engage in persona is to assume there is a face beneath the mask. Gurlesque poets, on the contrary, assume there is no such thing as coherent identity. There is no actual self, only the performance of self. This is one of several things that potentially separates Gurlesque poets from female Confessional or Neo-Confessional poets. For the Gurlesque poet, the use of the lyric ‘I’ does not confess a self, but rather a raucously messy nest of conflicting desires and proclivities that can be costumed this way or that. Disjunctions in identity are not to be worked through or resolved but savored and tapped for their cultural power."

-Lara Glenum, co-editor of Gurlesque: the new grrly, grotesque, burlesque poetics and author of Pop Corpse

This omnipresent cult of the body is extraordinary. It is the only object on which everyone is made to concentrate, not as a source of pleasure, but as an object of frantic concern, in the obsessive fear of failure or substandard performance, a sign and an anticipation of death, that death to which no one can any longer give a meaning, but which everyone knows has at all times to be prevented. The body is cherished in the perverse certainty of its uselessness, in the total certainty of its non-resurrection. Now, pleasure is an effect of the resurrection of the body, by which it exceeds that hormonal, vascular and dietetic equilibrium in which we seek to imprison it, that exorcism by fitness and hygiene. So the body has to be made to forget pleasure as present grace, to forget its possible metamorphosis into other forms of appearance and become dedicated to the utopian preservation of a youth that is, in any case, already lost. For the body which doubts its own existence is already half-dead, and the current semi-yogic, semi-ecstatic cult of the body is a morbid preoccupation. The care taken of the body while it is alive prefigures the way it will be made up in the funeral home, where it will be given a smile that is really ‘into’ death.
—  Jean Baudrillard, America
Let’s be like the Stoics: if the world is fatal, let’s be more fatal than the world. If it is indifferent, let’s be even more indifferent. One has to defeat the world and seduce it by an indifference that is at least equal to its own.
—  Jean Baudrillard: L’Autre par lui-même. Habilitation (translated by Stefan Herbrechter)

The secret of theory is that truth doesn’t exist. You can’t confront it in any way. The only thing you can do is play with some kind of provocative logic. Truth constitutes a space that can no longer be occupied. The whole strategy is, indeed, not to occupy it, but to work around it so that others come to occupy it. It means creating a void so that others will fall into it.

—  Jean Baudrillard, Forget Baudrillard (interview with Sylvère Lotringer, 1977)