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Of Work and Leisure: Digital World's Fairs and the Active Fairgoer

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


Since the publication of simulacres et simulation (1981), Jean Baudrillard's analyses of technologically advanced societies as existing in a state of hyperreality—a condition marked by the alleged inability of our collective consciousness to differentiate reality from the simulation of reality—have inspired both caustic criticism and zealous support. One of Baudrillard's most famous dicta, the assertion that shopping malls, theme parks, and video games have produced “sublimations” of a real without origin or density, suspended in a condition of “hallucinatory resemblance” to itself, generated apocalyptic conclusions: we, postmodern denizens of the hyperreal, have become inept at experiencing and interpreting the world, which has been emptied of meaning (Simulations 23). In Travels in Hyperreality, Umberto Eco mirrored Baudrillard's posture but avoided the caustic pessimism Baudrillard displayed when, for example, he argued that the replicas of settings in the United States at Disneyland are more real than their real-world counterparts, with the consequence that America has become “more and more like Disneyland” (Best and Kellner, Postmodern Theory 119). In Europe as well as the United States, we were told that we lived in a world doomed to inertia and entropy, where all distinct hermeneutical systems and stable theories of knowledge had dissolved into a vaporous vacuum without substance and depth.

Theories and Methodologies
Copyright © 2012 by The Modern Language Association of America

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