back contents next July 22, 1999

Simulacra and Simulation

Simulacra and simulation. The simulation is the copy of an original.. something that is represents an original object, but is not the original object. The simulacra is a copy without an original. I'm not exactly sure what then prevents a simulacra from being an object and not just a copy without an object. I hope to discover it as I read through my newly acquired purchases from A copy of Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard. Modern philosophy. I'm not sure how far I will get into the book: I read the first two paragraphs about three times before I understood it. Mike has picked up the book and began reading it, laughing at the ridiculousness of some of the passages. I will try to form an opinion of it myself, although I'm not sure if I will be able to make it through the first chapter. This is definitely not light reading. That's what my other purchase is: Arthur Schnitzler's Hands Around, the original play that David Hare's The Blue Room is based on. It is thin and very light and I hope to read snippets of it on the bus ride to and from work when I need some distraction from the traffic.

My life has been feeling like a simulation recently... like things aren't real. Yesterday, I received notice about a project that I'm going to be the Senior Associate on it (with a few Associates underneath me and my project leader is going to be Karen, the head VP of consulting at my company). I am to have a client meeting tomorrow on site. For some reason, I find that extremely terrifying, especially with the new responsibility of a project on my shoulders to be on budget. The client is a famous Human Resouces Company That Shall Not Be Named(tm). From what I understand, the job is primarily HTML work, stuff that I can grasp and am considered an expert in my company. That still doesn't reassure me, especially since this is a tight budget project. We shall see. I must overcome my nerves over this project... nerves over something that I don't even know what it is yet. Perhaps this is the simulacra.

I do have some interesting tidbits from work I should share with you, Constant Reader, from yesterday. The current project of the big client I am currently working with, The Financial Institution That Shall Not Be Named(tm), has me in the role of "director of taxonomy". It's some wacky title that my bosses instilled upon me to make sure that the taxonomy and categorization conventions written into the website and the database structure (and the algorhythms that determine what a user can see of the database) make sense. Now, they are supposed to make sense and ensure that all the material is being categorized properly, not necessarily have the system reflect a workable system, since I am not versed in database development whatsoever. Or SQL. Or Oracle. So, I'm supposed to go over the concepts and ideas I develop with a Technical Architect on the project (Lisa) and a Senior Technical Architect on the project, a subcontractor we hired named Dan.

I shall now go on a tangent and describe my two coworkers. They are both interesting individuals and deserve special mention here.
Dan is a not-too-tall-perhaps-Mike's-height guy who has long eyelashes and reminds me strongly of James Spader. He has fawn-like eyes that have a downward turn to them, a proud nose, and pouty lips. Whenever he looks at me, I can't help but staring at his eyes through his long lashes. He has a semi-lazy look to him, but I know that a really sharp mind lurks in that skull of his. I have heard him speak many times in very technical terms to my superiors and his careful probing of their work really helps them improve their focus. I know that with my work on this project with The Financial Institution That Shall Not Be Named(tm), he has helped scope out my part of the project and give me a direction. He helps me iron out the bumps in whatever I'm developing and yet trusts my work.

Lisa is a fascinating creature. Ever since she started working with Kinderhook, I have delighted in the days that we work together. She's very bright, studied architecture at Princeton, and finds building and creating things (be it be buildings or structure for an application or a database) fascinating. I've helped her with her XML and HTML skills and she has awed me with her understanding of various types of abstract structures. I've long-held a belief that German-Filipino mixed children are always very beautiful and attractive people. I've met two German-Filipino mixtures and both (a guy and a girl) are extremely good looking. She is just another supporter of that theory. She's tall and sexy and has an exotic look to her that one cannot place their finger on. She's delightfully funny and one of the closest of my coworkers to my sense of humor and tastes (she was one of the first to put up a Matrix screensaver). I met her and was drawn immediately to her. We've spent a number of occasions at the various Japanese shops in the area, both of us with a deep love for sushi. Plus, I love working with her. She's very clear and patient when you work with her, making sure that everyone understand each other. I like that. She's one of the best kinds of coworkers one can have. I know in the future, I will be watching and following her style and mechanations. Like Elizabeth (another coworker of mine), I've learned that I can learn a lot from her that can help me in my career.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program.
Dan and Lisa and I have bing-bonged emails between ourselves about the taxonomic structure of the application. I was confused about exactly what Dan's comments to my email were focusing on (I realized that my email wasn't the most coherent message I could have sent and many of my ideas were vague), so I started talking to Lisa about it. Like I said before, she's got a great knack for helping me understand things. She explained his points to me and asked me to explain my email further. I did. It took a while though, but she seemed to get the taxonomic structure I was looking for.

Suddenly, Dan got out of his meeting with our client and Lisa and Dan started talking. Dan asked me to explain my structure and I did in as best as I could. He seemed to understand my model and Lisa helped me explain it in more technical terms. He had objections and started outlining them when... I lost him completely. I just wan't technical enough to understand his concerns. So, Lisa essentially held up my end of the discussion while I kept acting like an idiot and, during quiet lulls in conversation, I would repeat myself like an awkward parrot, unable to contribute anything to the discussion. To use a sentence currently making its rounds in the online journalling community: my contribution to the entire conversation was, "I like string".

I have made up my mind. Although I find the knowledge that Dan and Lisa have fascinating, I don't want to do their jobs. I don't want to become a programmer. My love for the web only extends as far as my visual eye can see. HTML. JavaScript. DHTML. I'm not meant to be a programmer. I can simulate it all I want, but it's only that. A simulation with no object behind it. My simulacra.

© Copyright 1999 Eileene Coscolluela