“Once all transcendence is conjured away, things are no longer anything but what they are and, such as they are, they are unbearable. All illusion is gone from them and they have become immediately and totally real, with no shadow and no commentary.

And, at the same time, this insurmountable reality no longer exists. It has no grounds for existence any more, since it is no longer exchangeable for anything and has no opposite term.

‘Does reality exist? Are we in a real world?’ – this is the leitmotiv of our entire present culture. But it merely expresses the fact that we can no longer bear this world, which is so prey to reality, except by way of a radical denial. And this is logical: since the world can no longer be justified in another world, it has to be justified here and now in this one by lending itself force of reality, by purging itself of any illusion. But at the same time, by the very effect of this counter-transference, the denial of the real as such grows.

Reality, having lost its natural predators, is growing like some proliferating species. A little bit like algae or even like the human race in general.

The Real is growing like the desert. ‘Welcome to the Desert of the Real.’ Illusion, dreams, passion, madness and drugs, but also artifice and simulacrum – these were reality’s natural predators. They have all lost energy, as though struck down by some dark, incurable malady. We have, then, to find an artificial equivalent for them, since, if we do not, reality, once it has attained its critical mass, will end up destroying itself spontaneously, will implode of its own accord – which it is, in fact, currently doing, giving way to the Virtual in all its forms.

It is in the Virtual that we have the ultimate predator and plunderer of reality, secreted by reality itself as a kind of self-destructive viral agent. Reality has fallen prey to Virtual Reality, the final consequence of the process begun with the abstraction of objective reality – a process that ends in Integral Reality.

What we have in virtuality is no longer a hinterworld: the substitution of the world is total; this is the identical doubling of the world, its perfect mirroring, and the matter is settled by the pure and simple annihilation of symbolic substance.”

-Jean Baudrillard