Fast forward from the material governing the previous post, to May of 1999, to what amounts, in other words, to a thirty year jump. We are near the end of Baudrillard's career now rather than its beginning, and Baudrillard is doing a series of Wellek lectures at the University of California, Irvine. In the third lecture, entitled the "Murder of the Real," Baudrillard rehearses a theme that has been more or less a constant to his work since The Perfect Crime, namely that reality has died, been ex-terminated, and has not and never will be resurrected. Indeed, it's corpse may never even be found. He notes:
For reality is but a concept, or a principle, and by reality I mean the whole system of values connected with this principle. The Real as such implies an origin, an end, a past and a future, a chain of causes and effects, a continuity and a rationality. No real without these elements, without an objective configuration of discourse. And its disappearing is the dislocation of this whole constellation.
This argument is bound up, for Baudrillard, with virtualization and virtual reality, and a critique of new information technology. I have never been particularly convinced by his critiques of these technologies, but I do find the cultural inference he draws from them to be accurate; in other words, whether virtual reality itself does anything to dissolve the real, the discursive field that enables something like the term "virtual reality" is evidence already that the dissolution has taken place, that it has become susceptible to qualification, subdivision, and hyper-realization.
This collapse of reality is an argument for which Baudrillard is particularly well known, but it will come as no surprise that the Heidegger of Being and Time is also dedicated to a dissolution of the metaphysical reality principle, though his reasons for thinking this dissolution are far more subjectal in orientation (again, at least that's the case back in 1927).
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