Thursday, March 08, 2007

Baudrillard's Thesis

Jean Baudrillard died Tuesday. He was a French philosopher and social critic whose main thesis was the theory of "hyperreality." In a nutshell, he believed that reality was being replaced by a simulated world created by the media. If you are a fan of the movie The Matrix, you will understand this thesis. Baudrillard's book, Simulacra and Simulation, even makes an appearance in the film. But in a delicious twist, the book is not real, but rather a hollowed out simlulation of a book which serves as a storage container for illegal computer disks.

Before you dismiss Baudrillard's thesis, consider the following. Do you know the names of your neighbors? Do you socialize with your neighbors? Do you belong to a service organization (e.g., the Lions, Elks, or Rotary)? Do you attend church? Home builders no longer put front porches on new houses. Instead, huge media rooms are created for us to live out our "simluated" lives of watching television and movies, playing video games (one of the most popular is called "The Sims"), or chatting online as alternate selves with names like "2Cool4U."

Baudrillard's thesis also helps us understand the decline of worship attendance in small churches, and the rise of mega-churches. A parishioner once said to me that when they retired and moved elsewhere, they would seek out a big church, so they could worship anonymously. In other words, where true social contact would be minimized. In a world of alternative "realities," we choose the controlled environment. For example, note the popularity of Las Vegas, with its New York City, Egypt, and Venice hotel recreations. Why travel to Europe when you can experience the simulation? Walt Disney World is the ultimate example of simulated reality.

Baudrillard, however, was at heart a pessimist. He counseled people to avoid searching for reality. Where do we find the real in a sea of illusion? For Christians, the real is found in an ever deepening relationship with God and fellow believers. It is found not in simulation, but in restoration ~ the restoration of our brokenness in communion with Jesus Christ. Reality is the world God created. Baudrillard's "hyperreality" is the creation of man. One leads to peace and healing, the other to isolation and despair. In the language of The Matrix, do you take the red pill or the blue pill? I say, "Sleepers awake!"


Blogger homo unius libri said...


2:31 PM  
Blogger Rileysowner said...

This makes me think of David Wells' book, Above All Earthly Power where he speaks on things much related to this. One thing he pointed out in that book was that in our world where people deny truth we present truth not merely as an idea, but as the person Jesus Christ.

11:58 PM  
Blogger BD said...

I really enjoyed this entry. So much so that I'm going to link to your site, if you don't mind.


6:11 PM  
Blogger BD said...

I just realized that the only like i have is to the profile I don't have. If you want to get to my site:

God be with you.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

excellent, indeed!

6:41 PM  
Blogger Scribe said...

Glad you liked it bd. I like the look of your site too.
God bless.

10:08 PM  

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