Saturday, November 12, 2005

Of Simulation and Simulacre



Of Simulation and Simulacre is the title of a dense book written by Baudrillard in complaint of American consummerism.

Yet it applies so deliciously well to the Che t-shirt pandemic.

Here's how:

In a nut shell here are the terms

1) Simulacres are representations that take total part in the truth it represents. A ancient Roman spectacle, for example, is akin to a Simulacre such that as the battle wages on in the theater, fame, glory, defeat, and death are as tangibile in representation as they are in reality. The loser, like in real war, loses it all including life.

2) Simulations are representations of a Simulacre that take part only in appearance, with little to no basis in reality. This is akin to modern Theater and Cinema, where people prosper and die on stage with no effect to their immediate personhood. The actor does not die, only the Character.

3) The danger of modern society is that we are now not only simulating simulations (appearance baseing itself off previous appearances without any connection to TRUTH: IE. The typical Hollywood Action Movie w/special effects), but simulations are now becoming our simulacres (Reality is baseing itself off appearances that have little connection to truth. IE People, typically teenagers, who base their life and behavior on what they see in the movies.)

Are you with me so far?

1) The Che t-shirt phenomena is no different. Assuredly this started in Cuba with commies puting up che on the wall's their houses and on billboards as a sign of themselves emboding all that Che stood for. After all, is not the elementary school slogan: "We pioneers of the revolution... we want to be like Che"?

2) I think its safe to say that as these images were being produced, the most appealing one became the most sought after and mass produced. And so it was Korda's image of Che that took center stage -not because of Che, but because of appearance.

3) Upon seeing this image with it's aethestic appearance, someone got the grand idea to market t-shirts with the Korda image. What happened though was that the image lost all connection with it's previous reality. And suddenly we have a picture of Che, with no real connection to Che. It becomes a fill-in-the-blank for whoever wears the shirt.

Now, here comes the Movie "Motorcycle Diaries." Many go to see this movie in hopes to better grasp who "that guy on the shirt" is. And since the movie is an idealization of this assasins life, many leave an idealization of who "t-shirt Che is." This hollywood concept now becomes the basis of reality in defining not only the "bearded dude on the the t-shirt," but the memory of Che as well. We have come full circle and now base a simulacre on a simulation. We are basing our reality on the an appearance: Che's truth is obfuscated by the substance of fiction.

So what's at stake?

Truth is at stake. As our post-modern society relativizes everything for appearance sake. Assasins like Mao-Tse-Tung, Hitler, Stalin, and Che become idealized in to this image without historical connection. How many people believe that there was no holocost? How many people have shrines to Stalin? How many people continue to wear T-shirt for the sole reason that Santana wore one?

Truth must be told. It must be defined clearly and proclaimed fearlessly. We must, as Val's favorite maxim goes, "Speak truth to power," and do so no matter what the cost.

And many of us do speak the truth.

I would like to introduce three somewhat new to the scene websites that are taking their part in this battle:

Kathleen at Blog for Cuba has begun to speak her voice with immense volume, thought and truth on all that is wrong with Cuba. Her post on Che is an excellent example.

Alfredo cuts to the quick at El Cafe Cubano with short lucid snipids of truth that does't waste time with lengthy words. A great example is his Commie 101

Finally, these two Cubanasos from New Jersey have their own Clothing line Mi Ropa Vieja. And in their pursuit of fashion and business, they have not let money make them loose site of the reality of Che, and so as they make their nitch in the marketing world they remain true to reality with this.

Truth can run, but it cannot hide.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Songuacassal-Brilliant deconstruct of the tangled liberal mind and how they bury the truth under a web of popular deceit. And, thanks for the link.