I offer many thanks to guest lecturer Ken Rufo both for providing the lecture and for putting what appears to be some very complicated material into easily understandable terms.
Baudrillard's ideas, or what I've gotten out of them from Rufo's lecture, are, frankly, crazy, though in a good way. In exploring simulation, simulacra, and integral reality, Bo (if I may be so crass) puts out the idea that all things, even the artificial, become "realized," which is to say that to those experiencing simulation, they do become real. This is interesting to me, especially when put against some ideas of media theory I've seen that say that the news media actually makes reality seem artificial due both to the presentation of reality in images and the way it is handled by the authoritative figures at our screen. However, I don't think Bo's ideas contradict this to heavily; his 'real' is that which we perceive, regardless of its basis in the real world. Therefore, to him, regardless of an entity's basis in true reality, if it is artificially placed within our perception, it is real. Therefore, the real artificiality that we might see on the 5:00 News still qualifies as Bo's 'realization' because it's presented in front of us as a simulation. So he may agree with certain schools of media theory but state that the artificiality we see on our couch is still being 'realized' because we're experiencing it.
More interesting to me, though, was Baudrillard's belief in critical theory as simulation, trying to ascribe meaning to ideas that the theory itself developed. My first thought regarding this was that it was essentially a deconstruction of theory itself, but it's not so much that because it doesn't look like he is interested in creating any meaning anywhere. Bo wants illusion to at least be a strong possibility - he wants to at least have the option that there is no and never was any meaning. It is for this reason that he examines simulation and acknowledges that it makes all simulated 'realized' - he doesn't want everything to have a degree of reality because he doesn't want there to be definite meaning, created by anything. I don't know if Bo was a nihilist or if he just wanted the possibility of nihilism to exist (and real quick I'm just going to jot this down so I don't forget it later --- does the linguist look at language as God? the Marxist, economics as God? the feminist, gender as God? the nihilist nothing as God? eh...) but I do know that he wanted nothing to be a possibility. It's interesting stuff and I do intend to actually read some of his work when my schedule allows. Until then, Big Bo, it's been real.
In the end, theory seems unescapable
8 years ago