catacomber (catacomber) wrote,

Licklider and Baudrillard

Although the claim was already made in class, I have to chintz a little bit and reiterate it because the relation occured to me while I was reading, and I think it bears the most relevance to the Baudrillard reading: what we are seeing with Baudrillard is a socio-literary resonance of systems theory.

Baudrillard's claim is that we have lost the real. Immediately we are reminded of Marx, Lacan, and Freud. A shift in categories is going to make a sense of loss inevitable, is it not? As the world goes through changes, the apocalysts will be decrying the move to oblivion. But, as society can be described from one angle as the perfect example of an autopoiec system, the categories (identities)which were being used to build it at one point will lose their effectiveness over time. Baudrillard is just not trusting the wisdom of the change. (And sometimes I have to ask who could blame him?)

To his credit, Baudrillard does not explicitly argue a current state of "unreality", rather one of "hyperreality". The difference for him is crucially important, because he does not argue that somehow we are in an unreal state, just that we have lost touch with our products. In other words we have, as a society, moved away from the relationship we once had with the products which drove our economies by separting them syntactically from their referrants. We are not living with phycial products, but rather in a miasma of serialized images and signs that have replaced our original world. "Referential value is annihilated, giving the structural play of value the upper hand." (438) For him, this results definitively in the death of the referrant. The soul is indeed taken from the photographed subject. (The difference between this and the argument Harvey was making seems subtle at best.)

Again, I would like bring up Foucault, who was writing at the same time as Baudrillard, and remark on the similarities in both of their writings. These writer's theories is where the term "post-structual" comes from. Although in many ways a misnomer, because so-called poststructural theory employs the use of syntactic structure in an even more elevated and elegant way than Levi-Strauss or Levy-Bruhl could ever have hoped, this new trend in thought helps form the backbone of cultural studies and interdisciplinary efforts within the walls of our venerable academy. By being able to see the similarities of not only different cultures that include our own, but of different forms of science and art through sign level comparisons, the way was paved for things like our own beloved CHID and the possibility of (or at least the hope for)non-top-down pedagogies and for people to have to read material (like Derrida, Foucalut, and Baudrillard)that would be wierder and more cerebral than had yet been seen. I might go so far as to argue that Critical Theory has been enabled entirely by the advent of sybernetic and systems theory. (The causal links are hard to nail down, though.)
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