Thursday, October 30, 2008

Finding Versailles

First off, a big thanks to Ken Rufo for shedding some light on Beaudrillard and his theories.

Beaudrillard's use of the hyperreal can be visibly seen and experienced by many of us in society today. His description of the hyperreal as relating experience through simulation. Simulation refers to reality as being inaccessible as there is no reference point as to where reality is. Thus the hyperreal is when we try to access the real through simulated experience. I think we can see this in many ways. I find it is most relatable to traveling and understanding other cultures.

For example, last May I was travelling in France with some friends. The top thing on my list as well as my friend Stephanie's was to visit Versailles. (For those of you who aren't oppsessed with Marie Antoinette like I am, that was her primary residence prior to being sent to the guillotine during the French Revolution.) Anyways Stephanie and I arrived at Versailles and I noticed something wasn't settling with her. "Guys... I know this is supposed to be Versailles, but it is not Versailles." She then went on a long detailed description of what the palace should like. To make a long story short we were at Versailles, we were actually just on the other side(which is never captured visually)..... what is the point of this story? Well, what Stephanie and I were experiencing was the hyperreal at its finest. We know Versailles through images, history books, and even movies like the most recent, Marie Antoinette. We, but especially Steph, had a preconceived notion as what Versailles was and what it should look like. Prior to coming to Versailles, we already experienced Versailles and thought we knew the reality of the palace. Simulation of places is often what people experience in terms of areas they are not familiar with. Most of us have simulated experiences of areas that we have never been to, the alps, the taj mahal, the pyrimads, etc. Thus, as I learned when you go to the source to experience it, you may find yourself very surprised. Beaudrillard has a very interesting point with the hyperreal and how it has impacted society, escpecially in understanding areas that we are unfamiliar with.


Mae Dupname said...

I loved your post! I think we can all relate to the disappointment of visiting someplace that doesn’t quite meet the expectations we had. The media, especially TV as Ken Rufo mentions, exposes us to “perfect realities”. It creates expectations that can never be met, but we still expect perfection when we see them in reality.

pelipuff said...

interesting post! i think your personal experience help hit the hyperreal point home because i feel as though we've all had those moments where we "know" what something is supposed to look like due to what we've seen on the TV or in movies, however when it comes down to finally seeing it, its not at all what we expected. That "reality" is not as real as we make it out to be.

Juliana Hatfield said...

I think your Versailles story is a great way to think about the hyperreal and simulation.