René Magritte illustrated the concept of "perception always intercedes between reality and ourselves"
Esoteric concepts are concepts which cannot be fully conveyed except by direct experience. For example, a person who has never tasted an apple will never fully understand through language what the taste of an apple is. Only through direct experience (eating an apple) can that experience be fully understood.
Lewis Carroll, in Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893), made the point humorously with his description of a fictional map that had "the scale of a mile to the mile." A character notes some practical difficulties with such a map and states that "we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.
The development of electronic media blurs the line between map and territory by allowing for the simulation of ideas as encoded in electronic signals, as Baudrillard argues in Simulacra & Simulation:
A more extreme literary example, the fictional diary of Tristram Shandy is so detailed that it takes the author one year to set down the events of a single day – because the map (diary) is more detailed than the territory (life), yet must fit into the territory (diary written in the course of his life), it can never be finished. Such tasks are referred to as supertasks.Today abstraction 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 substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: A hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory - precession of simulacra - that engenders the territory. (Baudrillard, 1994, p. 1)
One describes a tale best by telling the tale. You see? The way one describes a story, to oneself or the world, is by telling the story. It is a balancing act and it is a dream. The more accurate the map, the more it resembles the territory. The most accurate map possible would be the territory, and thus would be perfectly accurate and perfectly useless. The tale is the map that is the territory.
A specific analogy that Baudrillard uses is a fable derived from On Exactitude in Science by Jorge Luis Borges. In it, a great Empire created a map that was so detailed it was as large as the Empire itself. The actual map grew and decayed as the Empire itself conquered or lost territory. When the Empire crumbled, all that was left was the map. In Baudrillard's rendition, it is the map that people live in, the simulation of reality, and it is reality that is crumbling away from disuse.
Some have wondered whether there is any relationship between Korzybski's ideas and Gödel's incompleteness theorems. Since one consequence of Gödel's theorems is that representational systems cannot be used to prove themselves, and since human perception is a representational system, human perception cannot be used to prove its own accuracy.
"Simulacra and Simulation" breaks the sign-order into 4 stages:
- The first stage is a faithful image/copy, where we believe, and it may even be correct that, a sign is a "reflection of a profound reality" (pg 6), this is a good appearance, in what Baudrillard called "the sacramental order".
- The second stage is perversion of reality, this is where we believe the sign to be an unfaithful copy, which "masks and denatures" reality as an "evil appearance-it is of the order of maleficence". Here, signs and images do not faithfully show us reality, but can hint at the existence of something real which the sign itself is incapable of encapsulating.
- The third stage masks the absence of a profound reality, where the simulacrum pretends to be a faithful copy, but it is a copy with no original. Signs and images claim to represent something real, but no representation is taking place and arbitrary images are merely suggested as things which they have no relationship to. Baudrillard calls this the "order of sorcery".
- The fourth stage is pure simulation, in which the simulacrum has no relationship to any reality whatsoever. Here, signs merely reflect other signs and any claim to reality on the part of images or signs is only of the order of other such claims.