It is the whole traditional world of causality that is in question: the perspectival, determinist mode, the “active”, critical mode, the analytic mode – the distinction between cause and effect, between active and passive, between subject and object, between the end and the means. It is in this sense that one can say: TV is watching us, TV alienates us, TV manipulates us, TV informs us…In all this, one remains dependent on the analytical conception of the media, on an external active and effective agent, on “perspectival” information with the horizon of the real and of meaning as the vanishing point.
~ Jean Baudrillard (French Philosopher), excerpt from his book, Simulacra and Simulation
Lately, I’ve been diving back into my philosophy text from undergrad days and re-exploring ideas that made little sense to me back then. I wouldn’t exactly say that the same ideas are understandable now but experience has led me to think much more critically. The most interesting aspect of what I’ve been reading has to do with this French philosopher named Jean Baudrillard and how he believes that meaning is derived from knowing what something is NOT. Basically, a dog is a dog because it’s not a cat. I know, simple right? But, what about other complex areas like, oh, I don’t know, art, or politics, or religion. All these things appear to be simulations so the world can make sense! Okay, fine, Baudrillard, Disneyland doesn’t exist!! Try telling my little cousins that. Yet, secretly, it’s true. Disneyland is an imagined place (or is it)? More to come…
Ethnography brushed up against its paradoxical death in 1971, the day when the Philippine government decided to return the few dozen Tasaday who had just been discovered in the depths of the jungle, where they had lived for eight centuries without any contact with the rest of the species, to their primitive state, out of the reach of colonizers, tourists, and ethnologists. This is the suggestion of the anthropologists themselves, who were seeing the indigenous people disintegrate immediately upon contact, like mummies in the open air.
In order for ethnography to live, its object must die; by dying, the object takes its revenge for being “discovered” and with its death defies the science that wants to grasp it.
~ Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation