The Absolution of a Primary Real

Vivian Rosenthal

Disneyland exists in order to hide that it is the "real" country, all of the "real" America that is Disneyland. 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. (Baudrillard,12)

If Disneyland is no less real than America then America is no more real than Gibson's cyberspace. As such, Baudrillard's understanding of the absolution of a primary real negates the catagorizing of hyperspace as other. Simulation, as it "threatens the difference between the 'true' and the 'false,' the 'real' and the 'imaginary,'" works in a universalizing, rather than minoritizing, fashion.

Or perhaps, as Virilio purports, it is not an act of simulation, but substitution: "There will be two realities: the actual and the virtual. Thus there is no simulation, but substitution. Reality has become symmetrical. The splitting of reality in two parts is a considerable event which goes far beyond simulation."(Wilson, 323) This binarization of reality into the actual and the virtual is problematic in that it inherently creates a hierarchy which in turn prioritizes one catagory over the other. With simulation, it is not a matter of a division. Prioritization is no longer possible.

[To other discussions of Baudrillard by members of English 111, Cyberspace and Critical Theory, Spring 1998.]

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