It Takes A Simulacrum to Know One…1
known for devising the concept of the simulacrum and inventing the geodesic
dome, Baudrillard spent years building a reputation as one of the densest and
most paradoxical of modern thinkers. His theory that the world as we know it
has been replaced with a false reality of manufactured images was simplified
and adopted by such popular science-fiction films as Soylent Green and The
Wedding Singer. But by far the most surprising detail about this man’s life
and work is the fact that, like Jesus, he never actually walked the earth.
It’s long been known in the most concentric of literary circles
that Baudrillard was a fictional character created by French deconstructionist
Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), as the result of a drunken bet that he couldn’t
come up with a writer capable of spewing even more garbled theory than himself.
This would ordinarily be nothing more than an amusing anecdote in the history
of bullshit, but for that the fact that Derrida himself was an invention of
French post-structuralist Michel Foucault (1926-1984). As no one else during
his lifetime was capable of following his circuitous prose, Foucault concocted
Derrida as an imaginary friend, colleague, and occasional gay lover. The
conceit stuck, however, and Derrida – like Baudrillard after him – became a
notable public figure in his own right.
Foucault himself was the great-grandson of the Marquis de Follard,
a 19th-century pedant who appeared throughout the French countryside dispensing
phrases of mock wisdom filled with English malapropisms. Little biographical
information exists concerning the Marquis, since he was a minor character in
Charles Dickens’s little-read 1852 novel A Common Whimmletucket, which
followed the adventures of young Horace Whimmletucket as he traversed the
Continent pursuing the secret of his mysterious parentage. And since Dickens
himself was a speculative creation of the ancient Athenian playwright
Aristophanes, well, there you have it.
All of this was not so much predicted by Baudrillard's corpus of
learned obfuscation as accurately described after the fact. It takes a
simulacrum to know a simulacrum, as the saying may or may not go, and
Baudrillard was definitely maybe or maybe not one of them. Rest in peace, man
who never was.