Jean Baudrillard, from
Simulacra and Simulations
“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth--it is the truth which conceals that there is none.
simulacrum is true.
If we were able to take as the finest allegory of simulation the Borges tale where the
cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up exactly covering the
territory (but where, with the decline of the Empire this map becomes frayed and finally ruined, a
few shreds still discernible in the deserts - the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction,
bearing witness to an imperial pride and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the
soil, rather as an aging double ends up being confused with the real thing), this fable would then
have come full circle for us, and now has nothing but the discrete charm of second-order
Abstraction today is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror or the concept. Simulation
is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of
a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor
survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory - precession of simulacra - it is
the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the
territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map. It is the real, and not the map, whose
vestiges subsist here and there, in the deserts which are no longer those of the Empire, but our
own. The desert of the real itself.
In fact, even inverted, the fable is useless. Perhaps only the allegory of the Empire remains. For
it is with the same imperialism that present-day simulators try to make the real, all the real,
coincide with their simulation models. But it is no longer a question of either maps or territory.
Something has disappeared: the sovereign difference between them that was the abstraction's
charm. For it is the difference which forms the poetry of the map and the charm of the territory,
the magic of the concept and the charm of the real. This representational imaginary, which both
culminates in and is engulfed by the cartographer's mad project of an ideal coextensivity between
the map and the territory, disappears with simulation, whose operation is nuclear and genetic,
and no longer specular and discursive. With it goes all of metaphysics. No more mirror of being
and appearances, of the real and its concept; no more imaginary coextensivity: rather, genetic