Hyperreality is a key term in Jean Baudrillard’s cultural theory, designating a phase in the development of image where it “masks the absence of a profound reality.” The ambiance of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (1961) closely corresponds to Baudrillard’s notion of the hyperreal as images persist to precede reality in the fictional world of the novel. Since for Baudrillard each order of simulacra produces a certain mode of ideological discourse that impacts the perception of reality, it is plausible that the characters of this fictional context should be ideologically impacted by the hyperreal discourse. From this vantage point it is possible to have a new critical assessment of Yossarian’s (protagonist) antiheroic stance and study the role of the “business of illusion,” whose ideological edifice is based on the discourse of the hyperreal, on his antiheroic stance and actions. By drawing on Baudrillard’s cultural theory this paper aims to read Heller’s novel as a postmodern allegory of rebellion against the hyperreality of the twentieth-century American life and trace its relevance to modern-day U.S.
hyperreality, society of spectacle, business of illusion, antihero, Baudrillard
Baudrillard, Jean. America. Trans. Chris Turner. London: Verso, 1989. Print.
Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila Glaser. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1994. Print.
Baudrillard, Jean. The Transparency Of Evil. Trans. James Benedict. London: Verso, 2009. Print.
Debord, Guy. The Society of the Spectacle. New York: Zone, 1994. Print.
Hassan, Ihab. “The Antihero in Modern American and British Fiction.” Rumors of Change: Essays in Five Decades. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1995. 50–75. Print.
Hegarty, Paul. “Evil.” The Baudrillard Dictionary. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2010. 62–64. Print.
Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. Paris: B. Grasset, 1985. Print.
Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment. New York: Herder, 1972. Print.
Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke UP, 1991. Print.
Lane, Richard J. Jean Baudrillard. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.
McDonald, Paul. Laughing at the Darkness: Postmodernism and Optimism in American Humor. Penrith: Humanities-Ebooks, 2010. Print.
McDonald, Paul. Reading “Catch-22.” Penrith: Humanities-Ebooks, 2012. Print.
Pawlett, William. Jean Baudrillard: Against Banality. London: Routledge, 2007. Print.
Rubenstein, Diane. “America.” The Baudrillard Dictionary. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2010. 11–13. Print.
Toffoletti, Kim. Baudrillard Reframed: Interpreting Key Thinkers for the Arts (Contemporary Thinkers Reframed Series). London: Tauris, 2011. Print.
Woodson, Jon. A Study of Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22”: Going Around Twice. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. Print.
Zaretsky, Robert. “Trump and the ‘Society of the Spectacle.’” Nytimes.com. The New York Times 20 Feb. 2017. Web. 7 May 2017.
Žižek, Slavoj. The Fright of Real Tears: Krzysztof Kieślowski between Theory and Post-Theory. London: BFI, 2001. Print.