Friday, October 31, 2008

Thanks to Ken Rufo for his guest post on the central blog. Baudrillard is certainly dense, but you've put forth a wonderful and thorough walk through on the subject.

I'm especially fascinated with the ideas of commodity and integral reality in relation to currency. In our culture fueled by "tap-and-go" credit cards and debit accounts, we detach ourselves from the type of consumption that involves the exchange of currency for a commodity. Now when we needlessly consume, it does not seem like we're actually exhanging anything for goods. As Ken says, "we're not really spending it". I know that most of the time I myself forget exactly how many times a day my debit card was used, or how much I spent, or even what I purchased.
Yet the debit system at least is somewhat of a simulation. Debit retrieves the cash from your account and forwards it to a business. The credit card system is more similar to an "integral reality", because it's not even a simulation--After all, it has no real model or value backing it. It's not quite mimicking the traditional nature of consumer transaction because no "pure commodity" is exchanged. We merely make a promise to return a certain amount of money to some shady organization at an unnamed date. The entire system of fiat currency that credit operates fades into the background, is not being simulated, and is in fact being eliminated. Of course, we seldom think of this because this integral reality acts on so many levels that it confuses our entire notion of money and currency in the first place. We might have a thousand dollars of debt on card....but did any actual money change hands at all?

This idea becomes even more headache-inducing (and simultaneously more interesting) in relation to the concept of impossible exchange. This term describes theory's inability to capture reality, as well as reality's resistance to being so easily dissected and understood. Essentially, our feeble simulations of simulations that have no model are actually valueless, and ultimately confuse our reality rather than illuminate it.

1 comment:

Altila said...

I thought you evaluated the concept of "integral reality" very effectually by stating that it really isn't a simulation, because there is no actual exchange of goods. Because there is no actual exchange of goods in the debit card system, it is easy for anyone to abuse it. The act of exchanging goods keeps everyone at power, because they are physically participating in the act and have a conscious awareness of what they are doing.