TFPO column: ralph nader - an inconvenient man?

I’m currently reading Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard, a book I’ve been meaning to read for some time. Baudrillard’s concept of hyperreality in particular intrigues me. So far, it’s a bit like swimming in quicksand. He is not an especially analytical writer/philosopher/theorist, in that his text does fall into the traditional reason/evidence-supported thesis model. For example, he declares that Disneyland is a simulation of America, to the point that America is, itself, Disneyland – a simulacrum that replaces reality.
Disneyland exists in order to hide that it is the "real" country, all of "real" America that is Disneyland (a bit like prisons are there to hide that it is the social in its entirety, in its banal omnipresence, that is carceral). Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal order and to the order 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.
Interesting, but he doesn’t really elaborate or prove his idea through logical or empirical means. Maybe he’s not playing with a full alphabet of letters. There’s a glimmer of something, though, but considering that Baudrillard tends to write obscurely, it’s hard not to suspect that this is why postmodernism gets such a bad rap. Perhaps even more so than Derrida, Baudrillard’s writings need explanation from in order to extract something sensible. (Although, even these “explanations” tend to be declarative, of the order that “Baudrillard says X,” which doesn’t help.) After all, what are we do with sentences like “If one envisions the entire cycle of any act or event in a system where linear continuity and dialectical polarity no longer exist, in a field unhinged by simulation, all determination evaporates, every act is terminated at the end of the cycle having benefited everyone and having been scattered in all directions.”

Derrida, I can understand. Baudrillard, however, has yet to be proven. Simulacra and Simulation is a carnival of free-association. Having said that, I’m rather interested in the transformation of Ralph Nader from public hero to public pariah. Although you won’t find a hint of Baudrillard in this week’s column, I’m wondering if perhaps Ralph Nader doesn’t exist…replaced, as it were, by a simulation of Nader manipulated through the media to serve various political and economical interests. From the heroic to the destructive, Nader is lost as an agency, replaced instead with a monetized sign-value whose currency trades at various, mostly decreasing, values depending on one’s agenda. But there I go, getting weird. I’ll stop and refer you back to normal speak in this week’s column, in which I truly come to appreciate Ralph Nader and his efforts to better the country.

Ralph Nader: An Inconvenient Man?

And I highly recommended seeing "An Unreasonable Man."

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