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hyperreality

All through the 19th and 20th centuries political and economic practice merge increasingly into the same type of discourse. Propaganda and advertising fuse in the same marketing and merchandising of objects and ideologies. This convergence of language between the economic and the political is furthermore what marks a society such as ours, where "political economy" is fully realized. It is also by the same token its end, since the two spheres are abolished in an entirely separate reality, or hyperreality, which is that of the media.

The very definition of the real becomes: that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction. (...) At the limit of this process of reproductability, the real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is always already reproduced. The hyperreal.

This also means the collapse of reality into hyperrealism, in the minute duplication of the real, preferably on the basis of another reproductive medium -- advertising, photo, etc. From medium to medium the real is volatilized; it becomes an allegory of death, but it is reinforced by its own destruction; it becomes the real for the real, fetish of the lost object -- no longer object of representation, but ecstasy of degeneration and of its own ritual extermination: the hyperreal.

From: 'Simulations' by Jean Baudrillard.

Cryptic, provocative and apocalyptic, Baudrillard's philosophy, inspired by Benjamin and McLuhan, was criticized for "depicting, though more likely creating, a world embodied by an extremely heightened level of abstraction." His feverishly associative, anti-consumerist rants are still great reading though.

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