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Hyperreality
and
Cyberspace



Andra
Keay
:
ARIN6902
:
Internet
&
Governance


In
the
introduction
to
“The
Governance
of
Cyberspace”,
Brian
Loader
summarises
the
key

concepts
of
postmodernism
'to
consider
the
idea
that
cyberspace
is
in
some
sense
a

manifestation
of
the
post‐modern
world:
a
domain
where
post‐modern
cultural
theories
fuse

with
the
post‐industrial
information
society
thesis'.
(1997)


Jean
Baudrillard,
1929‐2007,
a
French
social
theorist
and
philosopher,
said
that
reality
was

changing
as
a
result
of
consumer
culture
and
changing
information
&
communication

technologies.

Baudrillard
called
this
emerging
culture
‘hyperreality’,
where
‘the
world
of
face‐
to‐face
was
becoming
the
world
of
the
‘interface’’
(Poster,
1998).
Everything
is
at
once
real

and
a
simulation
or
copy
of
reality,
or
a
copy
of
a
copy
of
a
copy,
until
reality,
or
at
least
the

subject,
is
seduced
into
its
images


Jorge
Luis
Borges’
fable
(copied
from
Lewis
Carroll)
tells
of
the
cartographer
ordered
to

produce
a
truly
accurate
map,
which
needed
to
be
so
large
that
it
covered
the
entire
empire.

As
a
result,
the
empire
faded
and
crumbled
while
the
map
itself
rotted
into
the
landscape.

Finally,
the
fragments
of
map
no
longer
represent
the
empire
but
are
all
that
remain
of
the

empire.
This
illustrates
Baudrillard’s
‘precession
of
simulacra’,
which
culminates
in

hyperreality,
where
‘henceforth
it
is
the
map
which
precedes
the
territory’
(Baudrillard
&

Poster,
1998).



Postmodernism,
Poststructuralism
and
Political
Economy


Postmodernism
is
a
broad
term
covering
art
and
aesthetics,
cultural
theory,
philosophy
and

life,
with
many
contradictory
readings.
It
is
where
truth
is
created
rather
than
discovered.

Baudrillard,
a
‘high
priest
of
postmodernism’,
married
poststructuralism
with
political

economy
in
his
works
on
the
semiological
analysis
of
consumer
society.


Poststructuralism
posits
that
subjectivity
is
produced
by
language,
social
institutions
and

cultural
forms
and
cannot
be
independent
of
its
construction.
Baudrillard
was
heavily

influenced
by
the
semiological
approach
of
Barthes,
Lefebvre
and
Saussure,
and
the
critical

theory
of
the
Frankfurt
School.
Baudrillard
started
with
a
Marxian
perspective
but
ended
up

arguing
that
postmodernism
was
the
breaking
away
from
capitalism
and
therefore
Marxism

as
well,
which,
he
asserts,
exists
only
in
relation
to
capitalism.
Marshall
McLuhan
was
the

other
great
influence
on
Baudrillard.
From
his
earliest
works
“The
System
of
Objects”
and

“The
Consumer
Society”,
Baudrillard
focused
on
the
areas
that
McLuhan
extolled
in

“Understanding
Media”
and
that
the
Frankfurt
School
had
disdained,
notably
the
increasing

importance
of
media
in
society.



In
retrospect,
all
of
Baudrillard’s
work
has
had
a
theme
of
technological
determinism
where

the
object
dominates
the
subject
and
the
individual
in
a
postmodern
world
becomes
‘merely

an
entity
influenced
by
media,
technological
experience,
and
the
hyperreal’
(Kellner,
2009).

For
Baudrillard
and
the
Frankfurt
School
this
‘reification’,
or
process
whereby
human
beings

are
dominated
by
things
and
become
more
‘thing‐like’
themselves,
controls
social
life.
And
for

Baudrillard
and
McLuhan,
the
media
and
communication
technologies
are
the
key
shapers
of

this
reification.


Hyperreality
and
Simulacra


In hyperreality, technology has replaced capital and ‘semiurgy’, the production of signs, has
replaced production. Simulations and the play of signs are the constituents of postmodern society,
rather than capitalist production and Marxist class conflict. Everything is governed by the mode of
simulation, by the use of codes and signs determining consumption, politics culture and life. For
Baudrillard, hyperreality is the only possible outcome of capitalism, which created ‘exchange value’
out of every ‘use value’, thus abstracting reality into a commodity, which could then be traded in
signs, ‘accelerating the play of simulation’ (1994)

Disneyland and Las Vegas are classic examples of hyperreality used by both Baudrillard and
Umberto Eco. However, it is not simply the commodification of playful environments that simulate
reality, Baudrillard also describes Watergate as, ‘Same scenario as Disneyland (an imaginary effect
concealing that reality no more exists outside than inside the bounds of the art)ficial perimeter).’
(1994).

For Baudrillard, the ‘precession of simulacra’ exemplifies the final stage of the transition from the
premodern society based on symbolic exchange and need; through the modern or productivist
society which commodifies need and in which everything has a use or exchange value (production
and consumption of commodities); to the postmodern society which exchanges sign-values, where
everything can be sold and alienation is ubiquitous.

Simulation is of a different order to dissimulation explains Baudrillard. One is lying


to conceal, it is a lack, whereas simulation is reproducing and therefore creates
something. A simulated illness reproduces the symptoms of illness and therefore is
real enough in some ways. Baudrillard saw the postmodern condition of hyperreality
where the difference between real and simulation has collapsed as a moebius strip of
circular referentiality.

“It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.”


(Baudrillard, 1994)

M.C.Escher

The
Governance
of
Cyberspace


Loader's
concern
is
how
the
'cyberspace',
made
possible
by
the
internet
and
underlying

advances
in
information
and
communication
technology,
has
changed
our
previously

modernist
governance,
economically,
politically
and
culturally.


Is
cyberspace
hyperreal?
Certainly
it
is,
if
you
follow
Baudrillard’s
logic.
Hyperreality
is
in

every
exchange
of
signs
or
simulacra
through
any
media
in
the
broadest
of
senses,
not
just
the

dazzling
text/images
of
consumption,
media
and
advertizing.
Margaret
Morse
wrote
“An

Ontology
of
Everyday
Distraction”
about
the
hyperreality
or
‘nonspace’
of
malls,
freeways
and

television.
(1990)


Loader
has
failed
to
be
clear
here,
just
like
the
cyberenthusiasts
he
decries
earlier.
“The
very

discourse
of
those
proselytising
about
cyberspace
can
often
be
mistaken
for
a
kind
of

exhortation
to
enter
alternative
reality
freed
from
the
encumbrances
of
a
decaying
and

discredited
late
modernist
society
(Rheingold,
1991).
Such
linguistic
reverberating
between

the
future
and
present
often
makes
it
difficult
to
distinguish
between
what
is
being
claimed

for
current
behavioral
practice
and
what
is
prophesy
for
a
future
as
yet
unrealized.”(Loader,

1997)



Loader
posits
that
hyperreality
means
internet
governance
‘bound
up
with
the
creation,

maintenance
and
contestability
of
the
metaphors,
icons,
symbols
and
mores
which
influence

the
conduct
of
computer
mediated
communication’.
This
should
extend
beyond
a
superficial

reading
of
Windows
icons,
the
confusion
of
signs
and
symbols;
far
beyond
the
veneer
of
CMC

in
to
the
infrastructure
and
ownership
of
the
cyberspace,
as
hyperreality
and
the
disappearing

subject
affects
all
governance.
The
internet
does
not
pipe
hyperreality
into
our
lives.
It
cannot

be
switched
off,
or
exited.
Baudrillard’s
‘code’
now
governs
all.


Loader
refers
to
Kevin
Robins
critique
of
Baudrillard,
that
visions
like
Baudrillard’s
are

psychotic,
out
of
touch
with
independent
reality
and
unable
to
recognize
the
social
relations
of

dependency
and
responsibility.
Indeed
in
the
Ecstasy
of
Communication,
Baudrillard
uses
the

term
ecstasy
to
mean
the
liberation
of
effects
from
causes,
similar
to
Lyotard’s
‘poverty
of
the

postmodern
sublime’.


In
“Ecstasy
of
Communication”,
Baudrillard
describes
the
interior
of
a
car
or
computer
or
mall

unfolding
like
a
televised
screen,
a
simulation.
No
longer
a
‘Western
window’
onto
reality
but

the
televised
interior
of
the
human
mind.
Cyberspace
is
in
every
place,
not
psychotic
but

schizophrenic.
While
Deleuze‐Guattari
directly
correlates
schizophrenia
with
capitalism,
for

Baudrillard
and
Jameson,
postmodernity
is
more
about
‘the
seeping
through
of
schizophrenia

into
capitalism’.

(Fisher,
n.d.)


“If
hysteria
was
the
pathology
of
the
exacerbated
staging
of
the
subject,
a
pathology
of

expression,
of
the
body’s
theatrical
and
operatic
conversion;
and
if
paranoia
was
the

pathology
of
organization,
of
the
structuration
of
a
rigid
and
jealous
world,
with

communication
and
information,
with
the
immanent
promiscuity
of
all
these
networks,
with

their
continual
connections,
we
are
now
in
a
new
form
of
schizophrenia.”
(Baudrillard,
1983)


Baudrillard
finds
an
escape
from
the
circular
referentiality
of
the
lost
subject,
and
the

separation
of
cause
and
effect
he
is
so
often
criticized
for,
weaving
his
way
through
all
the

contradictions
in
“The
Perfect
Crime”,
where
he
admits
that
traces
of
the
real
and
the
subject

are
always
left
behind.
Baudrillard
also
says
that
nature
is
obscene
and
that
it
takes
the

highest
levels
of
artifice
to
reveal
things
as
they
are.
As
Temenuga
Trifonova
describes
it,


“Contrary
to
common
sense,
the
more
we
manipulate
things
(through
artifice),
the
more
they

become
pure
expressions
rather
than
representations.
Nature,
insofar
as
it
is
the
constant

engendering
of
the
same
by
the
same
‘the
natural
confusion
of
things’
is
already
virtual.

Artifice
is
our
only
resistance
against
nature’s
inherent
obscenity.”(2003)


While
this
may
explain
Loader’s
difficulty
in
applying
postmodern
theories
to
governance,

Baudrillard
does
suggest
strengths
and
weaknesses
in
current
political
or
social
analysis.


Mark
Poster,
Baudrillard’s
editor,
says
in
response,
“The
concurrent
spread
of
the
hyperreal

through
the
media
and
the
collapse
of
liberal
and
Marxist
politics
as
the
master
narratives,

deprives
the
rational
subject
of
its
privileged
access
to
truth.
In
an
important
sense

individuals
are
no
longer
citizens,
eager
to
maximise
their
civil
rights,
nor
proletarians,

anticipating
the
onset
of
communism.
They
are
rather
consumers,
and
hence
the
prey
of

objects
as
defined
by
the
code.”
(1998)


Conclusions


In
‘Digital
Nation’,
Douglas
Rushkoff
says
that
‘the
internet
has
changed
from
a
thing
one
does,

to
a
way
we
live’.
(2010)
In
‘The
Governance
of
Cyberspace’
Loader
asks
what
new
forms
of

governance
will
the
internet
create,
given
the
technological
determinism
of
most
literature
on

the
economic
and
social
restructuring
of
advanced
capitalist
societies.
(1997)


As
John
Potts
says
in
Fibreculture
(Journal
Issue
12),
“Every
time
it
is
claimed
that
digital

media
have
altered
knowledge,
communication
or
social
interaction
–
for
the
better
or
for
the

worse
–
some
form
of
medium
theory,
including
a
degree
of
technological
determinism
–
is

(usually
unwittingly)
invoked.”
For
example,
Potts
continues,
the
mobile
phone
has
changed

social
interaction
or
that
digital
networking
has
forged
new
orders
of
community.
(2008)



Potts
sees
a
reinvigorated
‘medium
theory’
as
the
synthesis
of
the
opposing
positions,

technological
determinism
as
represented
by
McLuhan
and
Baudrillard
and
social

determinism
as
represented
by
Raymond
Williams,
who
critiques
‘the
medium
is
the
message’

as
such
a
reductive
formalism
that
all
other
causes
apart
from
the
medium
‐
‘all
that
men

ordinarily
see
as
history’
–
are
reduced
to
mere
‘effects’(1975).



Latour’s
Actor‐Network
Theory
and
Zizek’s
Transcendental
Materialism
are
also
aiming
for

the
middle
ground
between
mediacentric
and
socio‐economic
theories,
attempting
to
give

equal
weight
to
both.
As
Bruno
Latour
observes,
a
polemical
‘social
determinism’
arguing,
for

example,
that
the
steam
engine
was
the
‘mere
reflection’
of
‘English
capitalism’,
is
no
less

extreme
and
one‐sided
a
view
as
the
technological
determinism
it
seeks
to
contest
(2005).

ANT
however
risks
flattening
both
human
and
technological
agency
to
the
association
or

network,
creating
a
circulating
power
flow,
not
unlike
a
great
machine.
Which
returns
us

finally
to
‘hyperreality’
and
the
third
order
of
simulacra,
the
point
at
which
Baudrillard,

Deleuze‐Guattari
and
Jameson
all
recognize
advanced
capitalism
as
a
cybernetic
system,
an

adaptive,
self‐compensating
system
(Fisher
n.d.).
Deleuze
further
describes
our
subjection

and
the
simultaneous
reinforcement
and
nourishment
of
subjection
in
‘Control
Societies’.


Baudrillard
describes
a
world
where
resistance
and
‘criticism’
are
superseded
strategies
that

are
easily
fed
back
into
the
system,
which
in
deed
requires
them.
We
live
in
a
referendum

mode,
which
substitutes
for
public
opinion
or
representation.
“Cybernetic
control,
generation

through
models,
differential
modulation,
feedback,
question/answer,
etc.:
this
is
the
new

operational
configuration.”
(Baudrillard
1993)



Baudrillard
could
be
used
to
inform
internet
governance
in
identity
politics,
homogeneity,
the

commodification
of
knowledge,
the
ownership
of
the
infrastructure
and
the
branding
of

information.
However,
he
proves
too
diffuse
for
most
analysis.
In
essence,
Baudrillard’s

hyperreality
is
not
a
map
at
all,
but
a
participative
process
that
may
shape
us,
or
may
allow
us

to
shape
our
surrounds.
There
is
no
other
controller.
Governance
is
our
own
hands
but
is
set

to
mass
agendas.
The
cybernetic
loop
has
closed
on
postcapitalist
society
and
cyberspace.


REFERENCES:


"Digital
Nation:
Life
on
the
Virtual
Frontier"
Frontline
PBS.
Prod.
and
dir.
Rachel
Dretzin.
Correspondent:
Douglas

Rushkoff.
Broadcast
February
2,
2010.
Watched
online
March
15,
2010

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/?utm_campaign=homepage&utm_medium=p
roglist&utm_source=proglist
.


Baudrillard,
Jean
(1983),
“The
Ecstacy
of
Communication,”
in
The
Anti­Aesthetic,
Hal
Foster
(ed.),
Washington:

Bay
Press.


Baudrillard,
Jean
(1993),
Symbolic
Exchange
and
Death,
London:
Sage.


Baudrillard,
Jean
(1994),
Simulacra
and
Simulation,
Ann
Arbor:
The
University
of
Michigan
Press.


Fisher,
Mark
(n.d.).
Flatline
Constructs
2.6
From
Narcissism
to
Schizophrenia.
Transmat.
Online
journal,
.

Retrieved
March
19,
2010
from
http://www.cinestatic.com/trans‐mat/Fisher/FC2s6.htm



Kellner,
Douglas,
"Jean
Baudrillard",
The
Stanford
Encyclopedia
of
Philosophy
(Winter
2009
Edition),
Edward
N.

Zalta
(ed.),
URL
=
http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2009/entries/baudrillard/
.


Loader,
Brian
W
(ed)
(1997).
The
Governance
of
Cyberspace:
Politics,
technology
and
global
restructuring,
pp1‐15.

New
York:
Routledge.


Latour,
Bruno
(2005).
Reassembling
the
Social:
An
Introduction
to
Actor­Network­Theory
Oxford:
Oxford

University
Press.


McLuhan,
Marshall
(1974).
Understanding
Media

London:
Abacus.


Morse,
Margaret.
(1990).
An
ontology
of
everyday
distraction:
The
freeway,
the
mall
and
television.
In
Patricia

Mellancamp
(Ed.),
Logics
of
television:
Essays
in
cultural
criticism
(pp.
193‐221).
Bloomington:
Indiana

University
Press.


Poster,
Mark
(ed)
(1988).
from
Jean
Baudrillard,
Selected
Writings,
ed.
Mark
Poster
(Stanford;
Stanford
University

Press,
1988),
(pp.
7‐8
of
Poster's
2nd
ed.
of
Selected
Writings).


Poster,
Mark
(1998).
Baudrillard,
Jean.
In
E.
Craig
(Ed.),
Routledge
Encyclopedia
of
Philosophy.
London:
Routledge.

Retrieved
March
12,
2010,
from
http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/DE003
.


Potts,
John
(2008).
Who’s
Afraid
of
Technological
Determinism?
Another
Look
at
Medium
Theory
Fibreculture

Journal
Issue
12.
Retrieved
March
13,
2010
from

http://journal.fibreculture.org/issue12/issue12_potts.html


Rheingold,
Howard
(1991).
Virtual
Reality.
New
York:
Simon
&
Schuster


Trifonova,
Temenuga
(2003).
“Is
There
a
Subject
in
Hyperreality?”
Postmodern
Culture,
Volume
13,
Number
3

(2003)
Retrieved
March
15,
2010
from

http://pmc.iath.virginia.edu/issue.503/13.3trifonova.html


Williams,
Raymond
(1975).
Television:
Technology
and
Cultural
Form
New
York:
Schocken.



Major
Theoretical
Works
by
Baudrillard:

• 1996c [1968], The System of Objects, London: Verso.
• 1998 [1970], The Consumer Society, Paris: Gallimard.
• 1975 [1973], The Mirror of Production, St. Louis: Telos Press.
• 1981 [1973], For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, St. Louis: Telos Press.
• 1983a, Simulations, New York: Semiotext(e).
• 1983b, In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities, New York: Semiotext(e).
• 1983c, “The Ecstacy of Communication,” in The Anti-Aesthetic, Hal Foster (ed.), Washington: Bay Press.
• 1988, America, London: Verso.
• 1990a, Cool Memories, London: Verso.
• 1990b, Fatal Strategies, New York: Semiotext(e).
• 1993a, Symbolic Exchange and Death, London: Sage.
• 1993b, The Transparency of Evil, London: Verso.
• 1994a, Simulacra and Simulation, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
• 1994b, The Illusion of the End, Oxford: Polity Press.
• 1995, The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, P. Patton (trans.), Sydney: Power Publications, and Bloomington:
Indiana University Press.
• 1996a, Cool Memories II, Oxford: Polity Press.
• 1996b, The Perfect Crime, London and New York: Verso Books.
• 1997, Fragments: Cool Memories III, 1990-1995, London and New York: Verso Books.
• 2000, The Vital Illusion, New York: Columbia University Press.
• 2001, Impossible Exchange (2001). London: Verso.
• 2002a, The Spirit of Terrorism: And Requiem for the Twin Towers, London: Verso.
• 2002b, Screened Out, London: Verso.