This book goes beyond Baudrillard's writings on consumer objects, the Gulf War and America, to identify the fundamental logic that underpins his writings. It does this through a series of close readings of his main texts, paying particular attention to the form and internal coherence of his arguments. The book is written for all those who want a general introduction to Baudrillard's work, and will also appeal to those readers who are interested in social theory, but who have not yet taken Baudrillard seriously.



In this chapter, we look at the first of the terms we have selected: simulation. Simulation is undoubtedly the word most closely associated with Baudrillard, although it is rarely understood in the sense he himself intends it. When Baudrillard's commentators speak of simulation, they often mean simply a form of illusion, the replacement of the world by its image, so that we do not experience things originally but only as a copy of something else. It is to make of Baudrillard's work a description of the ‘take-over’ of reality by the sign, like some science-fiction scenario. (This is the way the Australian expatriate art critic Robert Hughes understands Baudrillard in a review of America for The New York Review of Books [1992: 378–80].) Or, ...

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