Re: virus:"other reality"

Marek Jedlinski (
Tue, 7 May 1996 04:27:49 +0200 (MESZ)

On Fri, 3 May 1996, Brad <> wrote:

>>One observed to act as if X were true is said to believe X.
>Isn't there a better way of stating this that doesn't open it up to attack?
>A lot of issues in "postmodern" science and thought have poked holes in the
>binary belief/non-belief dichotomy of this very 'rule'. In an age of
>scientific and cultural simulations, there might be a better approach.
>A simple analogy once expressed by Jean Baudrillard: a group of actors
>decide to take on the role of bank robbers and dress up accordingly, get
>fake guns, and enter a bank. Upon their mere entrance, people react with
>true fear (a result of their previous experiences, habit, etc. either
>vicarious or firsthand with robbers in banks). The actors then "act as if a
>bank robbery (X) were a true event" and line the people up with their fake
>guns. They never rob the bank, and they simply leave after a few moments of
>robber-roleplaying. No doubt, the police won't see it as a hoax, since the
>people and bank "believed it to be a robbery (X)", however the actors knew
>it was never the case. So, by the above rule, do the actor/robbers believe X?
>This may be silly semantics...but I'm asking for clarification... since the
>world seems to be a fairly semantic place. :-)

Ah yes, but the whole disagreement is about whether the 'semantic quality'
lies in the world itself or just in the eye of the beholder...

As to Baudrillard, AFAIK he further complicated the example you related
thusly: imagine that one of the customers, seeing the robbery, suffered
a heart attack and died. For him, the simulation was fatally real.

Well I haven't actually read Mr Baud but I did discuss his writings
extensively with a friend who has -- and this is what I am thinking:

The notion of reality as simulation does not eliminate the old binary
scenarios. The dichotomy remains as a result of the very concept of
'simulation' -- if we agree that something is a simulation then
necessarily we are posing the existence of 'the simulated'...

Or, if we assume that simulation is EVEYRTHING (i.e. there is no
'original', no 'simulated') then what good does the notion do us,
apart from stressing the assumption that all beauty *IS* in the eye
of the beholder?

On the one hand, I hate to yield to reductionist, binary thinking.
On the other, the way we make meanings is by differentiating:
letter 'a' means nothing in itself and it can take many various
forms (all the thousands varieties of True Type fonts :) -- it is
only useful insofar as it *differs* from all the other letters.
So too with words, colors, concepts... Hence, 'belief' may only
be a meaningful notion as long as we distinguish it from 'knowledge';
'simulation' only makes sense if we can point to at least one 'thing'
that is NOT simulated.

Does anyone see an emergency escape door from this? (Other than
sheer mysticism which is providing exactly that: a way out of
binary reductionism. Does simulation have a Buddha nature? :)

Marek Jedlinski