There was a really interesting article in the 18 December 2014 edition of the London Review of Books entitled 'Writing Machines: Tom McCarthy on Realism and the Real'. McCarthy discusses the real, realism and reality in the context of literature, drawing on the likes of Jacques Lacan (amongst others). Discussing J. G. Ballard’s Crash, in particular the character Vaughan’s staged car crashes, McCarthy invokes Lacan, stating: “This is a real that happens, or forever threatens to happen, not as a result of the artist ‘getting it right’ or being authentic, but rather as a radical and disastrous eruption inside the always and irremediably inauthentic”.
This reminded me of Jean Baudrillard’s ‘The Precession of the Simulacra’, in particular his description of a possible staged hold-up. Baudrillard talks about how to “feign a violation” and goes on to say that:
There is no ‘objective’ difference: the gestures, the signs are the same as for a real robbery, the signs do not lean to one side or another. To the established order they are always of the order of the real.This got me thinking about what might happen if you staged a faint as a form of intervention: the gestures, the signs are the same as for a real faint. Baudrillard says one would need to create as much disruption as possible, while staying as close as one could to ‘the truth’. This would be required so as to “test the reaction of the apparatus to a perfect simulacrum”. But, he adds, “You won’t be able to do it: the network of artificial signs will become inextricable mixed up with real elements”. Your collapsing/swooning will engender an emergency situation whereby ‘the system’ kicks into play: people will come to your rescue, first aid will be called! As Baudrillard explains: “you will immediately find yourself once again, without wishing it, in the real, one of whose functions is precisely to devour any attempt at simulation, to reduce everything to the real”!