Imaging Goa…

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There is a thin line between simulation and seduction.  Unfortunately, reality seems to be lost in its simulation. We seem to be happy to be consuming simulations. Meaning has imploded and we have lost touch with reality.  Simulation has replaced reality.  Simulation has become a new regime of structuring reality. Sign in this regime has given up the function of standing in for something else.   Today every sign claims to distil the essence of reality.  The chain of signs, thus only simulate reality and the real remains ever elusive. The sign has given up its representative / denotative function and has taken up the performative function.  We can see this clearly in the manner in which Goa is imaged, branded and sold to the tourist today. The tourism industry primarily offers a packaged experience.  This is why the sign Goa does not necessarily denotes a place and people but embraces a performative function and mediates an experience.  Every advertisement purports to distil the Goa experience. This fragmentation of Goa experience can never be an integral Goan experience but who cares.  Little is more. Hence,  a sip or a dip into a slice of Goa is thought to be an adequate experience of Goa and Goan-ness.  Thus, we are in an era when the sign has stopped standing between us and the thing it signifies and has become a mediator that gives direct access to the thing.  This is why the term Goa may not stand for territory named Goa for the tourists.  It mediates or opens an experience that is branded as Goa. 

We are no longer trapped in the denotative function of signs.  This new regime of signs makes it possible to commoditize Goa. There are several Goas in this commoditized market. Each of these Goas simulates differently what we may call authentic Goa and Goan-ness. But the fact the sign has given up its denotative function and has taken up a performative function is damaging Goa, Goan-ness and Goans. But no one seems to be concerned about this loss.  Each of the packaged Goa experience is directly offering a Goa of its own.  Our tourists are consuming simulations of Goa. They are experiencing several Goa’s.  We Goan’s may not be able to recognise Goa in what is consumed as Goa by the tourist. This is why sociologist like Jean Baudrillard attempt to manifest that we are immersed in a world of simulations where the sign does not signify or indicate any reality but becomes the reality itself.  The real has become what he calls the hyper-real. Maybe the tourism industry is feeding a hyper-Goa to the tourists today.  This is why we may say that tourists are consuming the brand and not the reality of Goa. Tourism has changed the way people can experience Goa. Maybe it is time to introspect what impact such a form of tourism is doing on us Goans.  Like the tourist is the real Goa lost for us in the numerous images about it?  How does the fragmentation of the Goan experience afflict our Goan-ness?  We do have an urgent need to delve into these issues.  

In this new regime of signs, the many Goas that purport to package the Goa experience cannot exist outside the chain of signification.  Thus, it seems that these simulations become seductions. The simulation is packaged as the real.  This is because Goa in this new regime of signs does not exist outside its communicative practice.  What is constructed is hyper-Goa.  This hybridized Goa is commoditized and sold to tourists.  On the wings of tourism, we have hybridized, fragmented and commoditized  Goa. The real Goa stays beneath these manufactured Goas that are constructed for commercial purposes.  These several Goas are raw materials for the production of wealth for the barons of the tourism industry.  Simulations of Goa produces these plural Goas and render them commoditized for commercial ends. Unfortunately, this productions of different Goas through the construction of different images or simulations become a death sentence to the real Goa that we all love.  Hence, we have to deal with this reality that is brought about through the changes in communication technologies and practices in our world. The simulation model of communication is non-dialogical. It from its very inception excludes antagonism of its interlocutors for one can always have other forms of simulations of one’s taste.   Unfortunately, the mode of communication by simulation has become the main mode of signification in several societies today.  Such societies do not have to deal with false representation of reality (ideology) but have to hide the fact that the real is no longer real.  This is why in Goa a fake Goa or simulated Goas are sold to the tourist’s as real Goa.  Societies that have stepped into this new regime of signs have to save the reality principle. That is they have to hide that there is no longer real. What is there is only hyper-real. This condition requires new tools of critical analysis. Tools of critical analysis that are based on the representative function of the sign, like Marxism no longer are applicable.  Simulation is tied intimately to the operation of capital and we need new forms of critique of the same. Can Goa be the place from where these critiques appear? We do have the challenge and the mission to save authentic Goa from all its commoditised simulations. 


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao