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In the Delirium of the Simulation: Baudrillard Revisited by Achim Szepanski

In the Delirium of the Simulation: Baudrillard Revisited by Achim Szepanski

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Authored by Achim Szepanski.
Published as a collaboration between Becoming & NON.
First run is limited to 200 copies.
Only available directly from Becoming & NON (and some select stores in London, Berlin, and Paris). 
13.2x19.7cm, 240 pages.
ISBN: 978-9925-7984-7-6

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15 years after his death, the ghost of Jean Baudrillard lingers. Beyond just a pessimistic media theorist, the hyper-realist metaphysician of media and information may have become more relevant than ever before, and many of the concepts that Baudrillard left behind have become guiding principles in an ever deteriorating situation. Much of these ideas, from the Hyperreal to Cultural Nihilism, were repopularised in the last 15 years through such books as Capitalist Realism, in which the poster child for critical theory, Mark Fisher, appeared to have left the world a message, written in blood on the inside of our shared prison cell: Baudrillard was right! 

A lot of the most frightening confessions there drew primarily from Baudrillard such as the future collapsing in on itself, and all meaning and symbolism melting down into a delirious nihilism under the ever-rising heat of Capital as it establishes itself as an all-encompassing, totalising, technology-obsessed form of dominion, that thinks and acts of its own will, like an Artificial Intelligence that endlessly feeds itself data until all information has been devoured.

To say that we live in a simulation seems more true than ever, as we have less and less ability to affect anything, we reach out to influence what we see, only to realise time and time again that we are somehow cut off from the content, as if everything we know is just a projection on a wall; the horrors are real, and happening somewhere, but exist to us as holograms. We can but run our fingers through the beams of light projected on the wall, so close but so far from anything real.

We are psychiatric patients trapped in algorithmic cells, cut-off, stressed, and scared—the prophecies that caused Fisher to panic have, by this point, been completely realised. We have crossed over a threshold into a world that is both more-real than real, and yet entirely unintelligible and unintuitive, shifting wildly around and unfolding like a fever-dream. In the delirium of the simulation, nothing makes sense without knowing the codes that superficially hold everything together, and perhaps only Baudrillard figured out the code. After all, Baudrillard, with his ideas about code, the digital, quantum theory and hyperreality, seems to be one of the few who recognised early enough the true form of Capital as fictitious or speculative Capital. While his books may have once read like speculative, cynical horror-fictions about what could go wrong if Capital became an all-encompassing and nihilistic tyrant, now that this has come true, perhaps it is time to consult his ghost. It is time to admit that the worst case scenario has become real, and that the raving-mad cynic on the side of French Theory may have been talking the most sense, after all.

This book is a serious diagnosis of the current form of capital, a profound excavation and presentation of the most important and helpful ideas that Baudrillard published from the unravelling of western philosophy, to a redefining of marxist theories of economics and capital, to a shift in critical theory that complies with quantum theory.


“It seems to have been the fatal fate of simulation theory that simulation ended up devouring theory itself: the sublime disappearance of theory and its own referent happened through obscene overexposure, and hastily led to a forced reduction of theory to a mere piece of intellectual currency, that quickly lost its value and power. Baudrillard was well aware that his own discourse was subject to simulation, because all attempts to represent and criticise the simulated system fall victim to the simulation itself. Any opposition to the system can apparently be easily integrated into the system itself.

But what happened in the intellectual scene after Baudrillard was all the more spooky: the entire hyper-current of ultra-exposed and ghostly resurrected critical academic discourse continues to prolong its failure in operation to this day, only to fail further. Some headwinds have only come from minoritarian groups such as Tiqqun, who rely on deception and the confusing fog of the black underground against a system that operates by making its own visibility visible. But if the critics, even those who dismiss the notion of simulation in the name of a recoverable political or historical movement, are themselves implicated in the precession of simulacra, then this could still apply even to the darkest discourses of the minorities. But what if, in the wake of quantum theory, not only could the inexorable logic of the excluded third no longer have any effect, nor would a "both and" that comes close to simulation suffice to ride those waves of nothingness with which the worlds we are familiar with disappear? Baudrillard would now be, in a sense, resurrected from nothingness or resurrected from the dead. Who would speak then, if not the dead themselves? Dark, clandestine and deceptive discourse warriors would have come upon us to fight the simulative war of discourse against itself. These were warriors of an intellectual suicide state practicing the politics of their own disappearance. So why should we write about Baudrillard and beyond him again today?” — Achim Szepanski

 “For Baudrillard, the crux of theory thus consists, on the one hand, in providing an immanent statement or an immanent description/analysis of a system that follows its inner logic, including a constant integration of the Other, to the bitter end, thus adding nothing to the system qua theory and, on the other hand, reversing it and thus showing that the system is not possible without this Other, which the system also attempts to make impossible.” — Achim Szepanski

“On the other hand, it would be a perfect crime to invent a flawless world and draw from it without leaving a trace. However, we leave traces everywhere - viruses, gaps, germs and catastrophes - signs of imperfection that are the signature of man in the age of the artificial world.” — Achim Szepanski

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