Monday, December 8, 2008

Baudrillard and Benjamin: Media and Experience v. Postmodernity

I found several similarities between Baudrillard's "The Precession of Simulacra" and Benjamin's "The Work of Art..."; at least, I believe them to be similarities. Baudrillard essentially states that the reparation of an artifact is merely a restoration of its "visible order"; we cannot, however, restore original mythical intent (459). This concept of visible order and this original intent is quite similar to Benjamin's idea of the aura, which he believes is destroyed in a work of art by its reproduction. One can never replicate the feeling that is created by an original work of art; it is for this reason Baudrillard states "Ramses does not signify anything for us" and he never will, for no one who is alive today ever knew him, nor can anyone ever comprehend his significance fully (459). Only through a recreation, a simulation, of written and oral history can we ever attempt to know the significance or the meaning of a mummy, and for that matter a static, almost mummified work of art.

Baudrillard also questions what then happens to divinity when there is multiplication of divine icons much like when Benjamin questions what happens to aura (which could be argued to be the equivalence of a kind of divinity, a kind of intangible essence) with reproduction. Is this why Muhammad is not allowed to be turned into icon in the form of a drawing or a likeness in Islamic tradition, because of the fear of the loss of divinity in multiplication and representation? There is a fear in the Islamic religion that visual depictions of the prophet will lead to idolatry, which could also be seen as the worshiping of the simulacra of Muhammad as opposed to the reality of Muhammad.

1 comment:

Kenrick said...

funny i wrote an essay on Baudrillard's Simulation of Simulacrum and its ties to The Matrix. Yup, i'm a big fat dorky nerd.