Hyperreality and the Crying of Lot 49

Topics: Postmodernism, Hyperreality, Jean Baudrillard Pages: 2 (831 words) Published: November 29, 2010
The Crying of Lot 49 helps illustrate the concept of Hyperreality. Philosopher, Jean Baudrillard developed the theory and elaborated on it in his essay “Simulacra and Simulations.” Baudrillard uses his Stimulation Theory to examine how the mass media uses images to explain the way postmodernism takes real meaning from one’s life and replaces it with Hyperreality or vaguely familiar images. In his book Beginning Theory, Peter Barry says, “Baudrillard is associated with what is usually known as ‘the loss of the real’, which is the view that, in contemporary life, the pervasive influence of images from film, TV, and advertising has led to a loss of the distinction between real and imagined, reality and illusion, surface and depth” (p 84). Furthermore, Hyperreality is a representation of the postmodern period. Baudrillard uses his four stage model to explain a sign’s significance, a time frame that the first three stages fit into, and the lack of distinctions between reality and simulacra. Hyperreality is symbolic of the postmodern period. “In the first stage, the sign is representative of a person’s basic reality” (Barry 84). “The first stage occurs with the pre-modern period, where the image is clearly an artificial place-marker for the real item” (Reed). An example of this stage as it relates to the Crying of Lot 49 is the opening scene. Oedipa is just returning home from a Tupperware party. She visits the market, runs errands and prepares dinner. This is the typical reality of a suburban housewife. The way Oedipa fills her time is a sign or indicator of her reality. “The second stage for the sign is that it misrepresents or distorts the reality behind it” (Barry 84). This stage, associated with the Industrial Revolution where the distinction between image and reality break down due to the proliferation of mass-produced copies. The items’ ability to imitate reality threatens to replace the original version (Reed). The story opens, and the reader learns the...
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