Simulacrum (plural: -cra, also -crumsdubious), from the Latin "simulacrum" which means "likeness, similarity", ["Word of the Day Archive: Thursday May 1, 2003" retrieved May 2, 2007] is first recorded in the English language in the late 16th century, used to describe a representation of another thing, such as a statue or a painting, especially of a god; by the late 19th century, it had gathered a secondary association of inferiority: an image without the substance or qualities of the original. ["simulacrum" "The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary" 1993] Philosopher Frederic Jameson offers photorealism as an example of artistic simulacrum, where a painting is created by copying a photograph that is itself a copy of the real. [Massumi, Brian. "Realer than Real: The Simulacrum According to Deleuze and Guattari." retrieved May 2, 2007] Other art forms that play with simulacra include Trompe l'oeil, [Baudrillard, Jean. "XI. Holograms." "Simulacra and Simulations." transl. Sheila Faria Glaser. retrieved May 2, 2007] Pop Art, Italian neorealism and the French New Wave. [Massumi, Brian. "Realer than Real: The Simulacrum According to Deleuze and Guattari." retrieved May 2, 2007]

Simulacrum in philosophy

The simulacrum has long been of interest to philosophers. In his "Sophist", Plato speaks of two kinds of image-making. The first is a faithful reproduction, attempted to copy precisely the original. The second is distorted intentionally in order to make the copy appear correct to viewers. He gives an example of Greek statuary, which was crafted larger on top than bottom so that viewers from the ground would see it correctly. If they could view it in scale, they would realize it was malformed. This example from visual arts serves as a metaphor for philosophical arts and the tendency of some philosophers to distort truth in such a way that it appeared accurate unless viewed from the proper angle. [Plato. "The Sophist." transl. Benjamin Jowett. retrieved May 2, 2007] Nietzsche addresses the concept of simulacrum in "The Twilight of the Idols", suggesting that most philosophers, by ignoring the reliable input of their senses and resorting to the constructs of language and reason, arrive at a distorted copy of reality. [Nietzsche, “Reason in Philosophy.” "Twilight of the Idols". transl. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale. 1888. retrieved May 2, 2007] Modern French social theorist Jean Baudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. Where Plato saw two steps of reproduction — faithful and intentionally distorted (simulacrum) — Baudrillard sees four: (1) basic reflection of reality, (2) perversion of reality; (3) pretence of reality (where there is no model); and (4) simulacrum, which “bears no relation to any reality whatever.” Baudrillard uses the concept of god as an example of simulacrum.Baudrillard, Jean. excerpt "Simulacra and Simulations." retrieved May 2, 2007.] In Baudrillard’s concept, like Nietzsche’s, simulacra are perceived as negative, but another modern philosopher who addressed the topic, Gilles Deleuze, takes a different view, seeing simulacra as the avenue by which accepted ideals or “privileged position” could be “challenged and overturned.” [Deleuze, Gilles. "Difference and Repetition". transl. Paul Patton. Columbia University Press: Columbia, 1968, p. 69.] Deleuze defines simulacra as "those systems in which different relates to different "by means of" difference itself. What is essential is that we find in these systems no "prior identity", no "internal resemblance"." [p.299.]

Simulacrum in literature, film, and television

Simulacra often make appearances in speculative fiction. Examples of simulacra in the sense of artificial or supernaturally created life forms include Ovid’s ivory statue from "Metamorphoses", the medieval golem of Jewish folklore, Mary Shelley’s creature from "Frankenstein", Carlo Collodi’s "Pinocchio" and the synthetic life in Philip K. Dick’s "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (later adapted for film by Ridley Scott as "Blade Runner)"; another Philip K. Dick novel pertinently entitled "The Simulacra" centres around a fraudulent government led by a presidential simulacrum (more specifically, an android). Simulacra of worlds or environments may also appear: author Michael Crichton visited this theme several times, in "Westworld" and in "Jurassic Park"; other examples include the elaborately staged worlds of "The Truman Show", "The Matrix" and "Equilibrium". Some stories focus on simulacra as objects. One example would be Oscar Wilde’s "The Picture of Dorian Gray". The term also appears in Vladmimir Nabokov's "Lolita".

= Simulacrum and recreation = Recreational simulacra include reenactments of historical events or replicas of landmarks, such as Colonial Williamsburg, and constructions of fictional or cultural ideas, such as Fantasyland at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. The various Disney parks have by some philosophers been regarded as the ultimate recreational simulacra, with Baudrillard noting that Walt Disney World Resort is a copy of a copy, “a simulacrum to the second power.” [Baudrillard, Jean. "Disneyworld Company." transl. Francois Debrix Liberation. March 4, 1996. retrieved May 2, 2007.] In 1975, Italian author Umberto Eco expressed his belief that at Disney’s parks, “we not only enjoy a perfect imitation, we also enjoy the conviction that imitation has reached its apex and afterwards reality will always be inferior to it." [Eco, Umberto. "The City of Robots" "Travels in Hyperreality." Reproduced in relevant portion at retrieved May 2, 2007] This is for some an ongoing concern. Examining the impact of Disney’s simulacrum of national parks, Disney's Wilderness Lodge, environmentalist Jennifer Cypher and anthropologist Eric Higgs expressed worry that “the boundary between artificiality and reality will become so thin that the artificial will become the centre of moral value.” [Cypher, Jennifer and Eric Higgs. “Colonizing the Imagination: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.” retrieved May 2, 2007]

imulacra in caricature

An interesting example of simulacra is caricature. Where an artist draws a line drawing that closely approximates the facial features of a real person, the sketch cannot be easily identified by a random observer; the sketch could just as easily be a resemblance of any person, rather than the particular subject. However, a caricaturist will exaggerate prominent facial features far beyond their actuality, and a viewer will pick up on these features and be able to identify the subject, even though the caricature bears far less actual resemblance to the subject.

ee also

*Jean Baudrillard
*Body double
*Gilles Deleuze
*Simulated reality


=External links=
* [ "Two Essays: Simulacra and Science Fiction; Ballard’s "Crash"] Baudrillard, Jean
* [ "The Simulacrum's Revenge," sec 3.2 of "Flatline Constructs: Gothic and Cybernetic-Theory Fiction"] Fisher, Mark
* [ "Simulacra and Simulation: Baudrillard and "The Matrix"] Hanley, Richard
* [ "Simulacra in nature, Simulacra and the megaliths: ""]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Simulacrum — Sim u*la crum, n.; pl. {Simulacra}. [L. See {Simulate}.] A likeness; a semblance; a mock appearance; a sham; now usually in a derogatory sense. [1913 Webster] Beneath it nothing but a great simulacrum. Thackeray. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • simulacrum — 1590s, from L. simulacrum likeness, image, form, representation, portrait, dissimilated from *simulaclom, from simulare to make like (see SIMULATION (Cf. simulation)). The word was borrowed earlier as semulacre (late 14c.), via O.Fr. simulacre …   Etymology dictionary

  • Sĭmulācrum — (lat.), Bild, Abbild; Trugbild. Davon Simulaker, nachgeahmte Geschütze etc. zu Übungszwecken wie auch zur Täuschung des Gegners im Feld …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Simulacrum — Simulacrum, lat., Bild; Trugbild …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • simulacrum — I index color (deceptive appearance) II index deception III index disguise IV …   Law dictionary

  • simulacrum — ► NOUN (pl. simulacra or simulacrums) 1) an image or representation of someone or something. 2) an unsatisfactory imitation or substitute. ORIGIN Latin, from simulare copy, represent …   English terms dictionary

  • simulacrum — [sim΄yo͞o lā′krəm] n. pl. simulacra [sim΄yo͞o lā′krə] [L < simulare: see SIMULATE] 1. an image; likeness 2. a vague representation; semblance 3. a mere pretense; sham …   English World dictionary

  • Simulacrum — Als Simulacrum oder Simulakrum (Plural: Simulacra oder Simulakren) bezeichnet man ein wirkliches oder vorgestelltes Ding, das mit etwas oder jemand anderem verwandt ist oder ihm ähnlich ist. Der lateinische Ausdruck simulacrum leitet sich über… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • simulacrum —    by Jonathan Roffe   In his 1990 Preface to Clet Martin s book on his work, Deleuze states that the concept of simulacrum was never an essential part of his philosophy. However, it does offer one of the strongest forms of his critique of… …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • simulacrum —    by Jonathan Roffe   In his 1990 Preface to Clet Martin s book on his work, Deleuze states that the concept of simulacrum was never an essential part of his philosophy. However, it does offer one of the strongest forms of his critique of… …   The Deleuze dictionary

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