Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Thursday the 19th: Hyperreality

Borges, "On Exactitude in Science"
   This very-short story is cited by dozens of scholars, perhaps because it is such a rich metaphor for the limits of scientific representation.  Borges is a wonderful writer, and if you like this you may consider reading more of him for your final paper.

This American Life, "Act One: National Tour," Simulated Worlds
    This 13 minute clip (from 5:36-16:45) offers a nice introduction to Eco's essay.  The whole episode is great, but this act offers some audio recordings from one of the museums that Eco visited, along with some insightful commentary by Ira Glass.

Umberto Eco, "Travels in Hyperreality"
   This essay is quite lengthy, but it is full of intriguing observations about the hyper-real in America.  Do your very best with it, and note two or three examples that you find particularly interesting.


Baudrillard, "Simulacra and Simulations"
    Attached at the end of the Eco PDF is a short excerpt from Baudrillard, an infamous post-modern philosopher who made hyperreality a popular concept.  For the philosophically-inclined, this offers deeper insights into the nature of the simulated.  Give the first paragraph a shot, but if you don't have a taste for it feel free to stop reading.

Looking forward to your comments!


  1. More on Finster:
    Here's a link to an art broker currently selling various examples of his art. Take a look at the prices.

    An interesting person who fits on the same shelf as Finster is a guy named Dr. Bronner. Since he escaped Nazi Germany, his family has been making a specific type of castille soaps which are sold nationwide on a small-scale. Chances are your local grocery store has a selection of their products. Look on the soap aisle near the bottom.

    The most interesting thing about this soap is its packaging. The labels are covered, every possible millimeter, in tiny, tiny quasi-christian phrases and sentences all pertaining to an "All-One-God" and the "Moral ABC's!" for mankind's salvation.

    Read this link and buy the soap. Its really good soap and something to read in the shower

  2. When I began reading Ecoi immediately thought of Star Wars holograms. I agree with Eco, I think we as Americas are obsessed with shock value in replicating things. There's an infinite desire to make the fake seem beyond real. Eco has a few interesting examples. I thought Hananuma Masakichi's wooden sculpture of himself was ridiculous. He used his own teeth, hair and nails, gross.
    Btw I totally use dr bonners. It's awesome.

  3. Eco speaks of amusement cities. Ive never thought about Las Vegas as such. The correlation is obvious since he pointed it out. But like Eco says, it is still a functioning American city apart from the casinos and hookers.

    What Eco overlooks is the fact that Disneyworld is also a functioning city in its own rights, with its own citizens and logistical facilities that dwarf some actual towns by comparison. It even has its own lingo. If a Disney employee tells you to "Have a Disney Day" they have just insulted you in the foulest way possible under Disney's strident rules for it's employees.

    An interesting and fundamental difference between the two examples is this: Las Vegas was a small town that built itself up over time into the entertainment mecca that it is today. Disneyworld was designed specifically, at its very inception, to be the fantastical microcosm that draws so many, many sweaty, hairy tourists.

  4. When reading this, the, 'last beach' theme is referred to, referring to the nobles of Europe that collected and preserved artistic works from earlier era's to preserve them.

    I found the parallel to the replicas we create today, especially the wax figurines and sculpture recreations very very interesting. Recreating something in an attempt to preserve it seems to be an interesting aspect of kitsch, and I find the potential of such actions to be fascinating. Picture, if you will, the world after an apocalypse, several hundred years ago. A tribe of people stumble across this wax museum, or a Ripleys believe it or not, or a home to various replicas.... what do they make of this? To them, these may as well be the originals, strange, unknown creations and things. How they might influence the culture and history of a people at a later date, simply because of their existence fascinates me.