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Paul Virilio. At the beginning of the s, with black ghettoes rioting, the mayor of Philadelphia announced: 'From here on in, the frontiers of the State pass to. PAUL VIRILIO'S MODERNITY is logistical. It doesn't directly deal with war, but with everything that makes it possible. Logistics is the preparation for war through . Paul Virilio is one of the most prolific and penetrating critics of the drama of In this reading, Virilio emerges as one of the major critics of war, technology.
He is now recognized as the philoso- pher of speed and an authority on war technology Virilio He mentions Sun Tzu, Seneca, E. His attitude towards tech- nology somewhat resembles those of Ellul and Postman. His work extends and updates the kind of media ecological explorations conducted by Mumford, McLuhan, Carpenter, Ellul and others. Although his work is filled with plays on words and neologisms, Virilio is no mere concept juggler.
He is a pattern recognizer concerned with the negative consequences of technological advances. For him, speed is a species of violence.
Too much speeding up depletes regional diversity, reduces and ultimately eliminates the expanse of the geophysical environment. While technology enhances human motivity, at the absolute speed of light, motivity reverses into photosensitive inertia. That is to say, humans will stay put, responding to shining screens the way plants respond to light. As a conserva- tive intellectual, Virilio calls for the conservation of presence in real space and cautions us against tele-presence and tele-action in real time.
For Virilio, instantaneous trans- mission creates a civilization of forgetting Virilio Like McLuhan, he does not demonstrate, but probes, raises questions and tacitly prompts enquiry.
His insights have significantly influenced philos- ophers on the Left such as Gilles Deleuze, who cites him often. As a critic of technology, Virilio has gathered significant scholarly atten- tion.
To the robot Hilare
In , Bob Hanke did a comparative study of McLuhan and Virilio for the media ecology community, with a focus on speed. This article is an exercise in affirmative criticism. He makes a distinction between metabolic speed and technological speed.
While McLuhan mostly maintains a descriptive, ethically ambivalent tonality when discuss- ing technological extensions of humans, Virilio has been consistently critical toward the proximity between humans and technology. In Politics of the Very Worst, Virilio offers a rough sketch of such a history: Power and speed are inseparable just as wealth and speed are insep- arable.
The Middle Ages had traveling pigeons with Jacques Coeur, the great finan- cier of the time. Colonial society had the maritime power of England and France. Post-WWII society had air power with supersonic planes capable of breaking the sound barrier in the fifties. Global society is currently in a gestation period and cannot be understood without the speed of light or the automatic quotations of the stock markets in Wall Street, Tokyo, or London.
Virilio In the final analysis, they are all media ecological typologies. In Crepuscular Dawn , Virilio points out that there have been three revolutions in speed from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century: The transportation revolution turns geopolitics into chronopoli- tics Virilio The transplant revolution marks the onslaught of endo-colonization, i.
If love is blind, Virilio would say speed is glaucomatous. That is to say, it dwin- dles our peripheral vision. As Virilio points out in The Administration of Fear: The faster we go, the more we look ahead in anticipation and lose our lateral vision… with increased speed, we lose the sense of lateralization, which is an infirmity in our being in the world, its richness, its relief, its depth of field.
To couch it in terms of gestalt theory, speed results in a figure orientation, a tunnel vision, at the expense of ground awareness. As such, it undermines and outstrips our capacity for reflection. Grey ecology is an ecology of distances. As Virilio explains: Behind the notion of grey ecology there is a real stake, which is human freedom.
Speed, however, works in the opposite direction. It brings us face to face with the finitude of the world. Indeed, speed eliminates; absolute speed eliminates absolutely. The speed of light not only renders irrelevant the rotundity of the territorial body, but also threatens the social body or socius and the human body.
It brings about the specter of telepresence and trans-appearance Virilio a: Trans-appearance entails at least two things: The disappearance of heterotopia has gruesome consequences: The Foucault line precisely fore- bodes the advent of control societies, to which Burroughs, Deleuze and Virilio have all alerted us.
Again, the lateral is lost. As Virilio puts it: When watching a film, humans can handle 24 frames per second. Once film is projected at over 60 frames a second, we will be subject to subliminal influence Virilio Our relation to objects, people, and events is superseded by our relation to their metaphors or specters on the screen.
For Virilio, communicating at the speed of light means the obsolescence of spatial and temporal intervals by the interface, which has dire existential, ethical and political consequences. This is a topic that deserves to be treated in a separate section. The point is that real-time technologies radically pollute the meaningful spatial and temporal distances once available in the mechanical age, and return humans from an eye mode back to an ear mode.
The following line by Virilio confirms this understanding it is also one of the few places where he explicitly mentions McLuhan: At the beginning of the s, Marshall McLuhan contrasted the screen with the written word and claimed that television, after radio, had restored immediacy and a universal resonance that the book had discarded in favor of a sequential sense of the world.
If the space interval i. Real-time technologies, however, eliminate both inter- vals, and leave us with nothing but the interface of instantaneity, ubiquity and immediacy. Following the atomic bomb, Virilio thinks humanity is confront- ing an information bomb and a genetic bomb, too. The rise of the interface and interactivity is a result of communication at the absolute speed of electromagnetic waves, i.
The conse- quences are multifold.
Interface-based real-time communication poses a real threat to demo- cratic politics since it reinforces reflex and short-circuits reflection. If the industrial age is characterized by standardization of language, munitions and opinions, etc. An authoritarian politics, yes. But what defines democracy is the sharing of power.
Paul Virilio - The Great Accelerator.pdf
When there is not time to share, what will be shared? He means to suggest that the idea of direct democracy under conditions of real-time communication is a pipedream.
As a matter of fact, the interface suits terrorism more than it suits democ- racy.
In City of Panic, Virilio points out that, by virtue of its power to synchronize emotions, the interface i. That is to say, hyperterrorism is a performance staged for and in-formed by the interface. Its form and substance are one and the same thing. To calibrate the terror the average televiewer can tolerate, to play on time gaps, more or less lengthy intermissions between two majors attacks, so as not to see public opinion swing the other way — these are so many media tactics and strategies indispensable to hyperterrorism in trans- forming the classic war into a veritable arcade game, more remote from the Battle of Stalingrad than from Star Wars.
As a result, incarceration yields to tele-surveillance, confinement gives way to control. The interface of real-time communication is veritably the technological infrastruc- ture of the control society — a society in which the panoptic gaze of gadgets wins out over the gaze of the human eye and shapes human behaviour formal cause lurks here.
Take this line from The University of Disaster: The interface is cybernetic and globalitarian, Virilio would say. The interface alienates humans from each other, so to speak. When interacting with one another via an interface i. Virilio sees something oxymoronic about the interface i.
To teleact is to act via a discar- nate double i. This tele-actor will no longer throw himself into any means of physical travel, but only into another body, an optical body; and he will go forward without moving, see with other eyes, touch with other hands than his own, to be over there without really being there, a stranger to himself, a deserter from his own body, an exile for evermore.
The difference is that the former is endogenous while the latter is exogenous.
We th ink the same way we co llide in to
The following passage from War and Cinema is telling: It is this walk which provides the inert Jorai with his dream images, and with the tale that he will later tell, impos- sible to locate in geographical space or astronomical time.
As Virilio puts it in Open Sky: Once more we are seeing a reversal in trends: As he puts it in The Great Accelerator: Surrounded by his screens and subject to video control and the disci- pline of programs, as well as to the rules of interactivity, this new Photosensitive being turns into a consenting victim of a progress that amputates his private life, with electro-optical addiction to information more and more alienating him from his sense of self.
He further points out: It has got to the point where we recently saw a Japanese carmaker use one such on-the-spot dancer to sell its fast cars! In Tokyo you can see a new swimming-pool with a strong-current area where swimmers remain stationary.
A brisk stretch of water prevents you from advancing, so that you have to exert the power of movement to remain where you are. In the manner of a home trainer or a moving walkway used in the wrong direction, the dynamic waters have no other purpose than to get competitive swimmers to fight the energy cross- ing space to meet them, energy which takes on the dimensions of the Olympic pool, as the rollers of a home trainer replace the velodrome.
On-the-spot-ness seems to have become an abstract principle that permeates the entire social field. While McLuhan thinks of media more in terms of exten- sions of man, Virilio suggests that we might as well think of media as substitu- tions of our human capacities and the world out there.
As he puts it: For Deleuze, voyage in place means having inner journeys or psychic transformations. It is what nomadism really means. For Virilio, movement on-the-spot seems to be a contradiction in terms.
It is a sign of the world closing in on us. Extreme sports Virilio sees some intricate connections between the interface-based discar- nate, weightless, quasi-paralytic mode of being and extreme sports. As he points out in Open Sky: Today, curiously, a growing number of adepts share the attraction of the void and the extreme sensations it offers, through bungee jumping, sky surfing, BASE jumping, and so on, as though the accelerated perspective had already won out over the passive perspective of the perspectivists.
Paul Virilio and the articulation of post-reality
Suicidal experiments on the inertia of a body pulled by its mass without the aid of any support other than air, in the relative wind of a dizzying displacement, with no other aim than that of experiencing the heaviness of the body. A precursor of the logic here can be found in McLuhan: The irony is that, by performing for telespectators, these lovers of vertigo only end up reinforcing the interface-ridden mode of being.
The interface the screen exposes two types of individualism at once: Using bungee jumping to reduce tension is a matter of treating toxin with toxin. Virilio sees extreme sports as a symptom of the compression of the expanse of the world as a result of the transportation and transmission revolutions. Walter Ong differs from both McLuhan and Virilio on this point. He attributes the inward turn to reading written or printed texts Ong It is worth pointing out that Virilio is in the habit of juxtaposing extreme sports, extreme science and extreme arts, all of which are perversions to him.
In short, extreme sports are merely a reaction against interface-induced inertia or movement on-the-spot, rather than a way out. Meaningful resist- ance takes the form of divergence. Media effect on language Virilio indicates that media exert an irrevocable impact upon language.
In The Information Bomb, he points out: Technological acceleration initially brought about a transference from writing to speech — from the letter and the book to the telephone and the radio. Today it is the spoken word which is logically withering away before the instantaneity of the real-time image.
With the spread of illiteracy, the era of silent microphones and the mute telephone opens before us. The instruments will not remain unused on account of any technical failings, but for lack of sociability, because we shall shortly have nothing to say to each other, or really the time to say it — and, above all, we shall no longer know how to go about listening to or saying something, just as we already no longer know how to write, in spite of the fax revolution which was allegedly going to give letter-writing a new lease of life.
For many people today, talking is too personal, slow, unpredictable and uncontrollable. The implication is that the more images are spoon-fed to us, the less responsive to words we become. And the decline of writing comes princi- pally from the fact that graphic, photographic and videographic images have replaced mental images.
Armitage In The University of Disaster, in a context where he refers to dromomania and inertia as flip sides of the same coin both being symptoms of real-time interactivity , Virilio offers an explanation for a new tendency: So many signs that reveal the anxious anticipation of an era in which language no longer says anything and the word no longer mediates human relationships.
As Virilio puts it in The Information Bomb: It marks Virilio as a Gestaltist, as an interological thinker i. In a conversation with Marianne Brausch, Virilio indicates: The whole of my work would, in fact, be directed towards anti- form, to the gap between the objects…. Suddenly, before me, new objects appeared… the whole world was full of these new forms, they were nestled in the hollows of the slightest forms…. While we perceive circles, spheres, cubes, or corners perfectly, our perception of intervals, of the interstices between things, between people, is far less acute.
This assumption 28 was in fact, verified numerous times during my interactions with him during 29 a European Graduate School seminar a few years back, that was held in 30 1. Duke University Press, , 31 Referring to their use of pirate radio, for instance, he cautioned: Semiotext e , ], Post-Political Politics, ed.
Semiotext[e], , Columbia University Press, 39 , Tseng In his version of that theme, that which is properly called 4 politics is merely one element of a technocultural disposition that has been 5 inculcated in the modern period so as to preclude its actualization. While 6 one might not agree with every element of the argument, the assertion of 7 a centrifugal rather than centripetal sensibility is one that we should still 8 take seriously, for, as Virilio has lamented, in reference to those who fail 9 to, an uncritical affirmation is itself a type of pessimism.
Yet technology is the vector of 11 progress and I would say that there can be no art without criticism. An art 12 lover is at the same time an art critic, since a taste for art implies a certain 13 quality of judgment. As a lover of new technology art, I totally contest the 14 objective status accorded to the technosciences.
Paul Virilio, Virilio Live: Selected Interviews London: Sage, , The reference is to Genesis He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he 33 had. And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. They are giving it the kiss 9 of death. Cited in Larry L. Lichtenwalter, Wrestling with Angels: Review and Herald Publishing Association, , Virilio, Virilio Live, Uni- 7 versity of Minnesota Press, ], viii.
Connolly, Neuropolitics: Thinking, Culture, 12 Speed Minneapolis: John Armitage London: This is a hard assertion to back up: Taken together with the engagements below, the claim that they saw their work as 31 superior to rather than resonant with his seems unlikely.
The assumptions that his con- 11 cept of speed is unidimensional, that he conceives no alternative to the 12 contemporary technoscientific order, and that all forms of mass culture are 13 denounced as equally complicit with late modern power are thus destabi- 14 lized with the first several questions.
Similarly, the notion that Virilio holds 15 that the manipulation of emotion negates democratic possibility as such, 16 that citizenship is entirely incompatible with globalization, and that the only 17 option in our time is to either entirely converge virtual and actual reality or 18 to abandon one in favor of the other is complicated in the remaining ones.
Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, Movement is extensive; speed is intensive. Thus, while the many 3 criticisms of his work are certainly formidable, they can never adequately 4 represent the composite nature of his thought itself, even when they go to 5 great pains to avoid the suppression of ambiguity.
It is not about opposing globalization. I am 14 saying that the globalization of time. So, to be 15 sure, the problem is not the globalization of dialogue among nations. It is therefore not surprising that reference has been made to spiritual 22 voyages effected without relative movement, but in intensity, in one place: In short, we will say by convention that only nomads have absolute move- 24 ment, in other words, speed: Indeed, it is here that this theme 26 is reengaged by suggesting that the state seeks to relativize all extensive motions and 27 intensive speeds such that they are redeployed within its ever-expanding sphere of influ- 28 ence: Gravity, gravitas, 31 such is the essence of the State.
Connolly, Neuropolitics, New walls and new forms 3 of control augment and even replace those which prevailed in the worlds of 4 nation-states, monarchies, and city-states without necessarily portending 5 cultural or political advance in the process. You have sometimes been accused of harboring a unidimensional 18 account of speed that your contemporaries are said to have positively 19 amended. One approaches speed from a scientific approach. That is to say 24 scientists, whether it be Einstein or many others.
The scientific approach 25 was more important to me than the philosophic approach. My approach 26 toward speed comes from the science of speed, the science of relativity 27 much more than from philosophy. My approach came when I was fifteen, 28 seventeen years old and began reading scientific literature with great plea- 29 sure due to the relation of speed to war and to the scientific knowledge 30 31 Harper and Row, Princeton Architectural Press, When there was the book attacking the French intellectuals— 1 Deleuze, Derrida, et cetera—I was defended by a serious astrophysicist 2 who wrote an article concerning my scientific leanings in La Liberation.
You see why I critique science and 7 technoscience? They were my education. When you are denounced by other thinkers as providing no alterna- 10 tive to the contemporary technoscientific condition, you often speak about 11 the conference of Brussels in , where technologists and the general 12 population came together to democratically work out the potential prob- 13 lems of the new train technology.
As a result, they came up with the block 14 system to prevent collisions. Is there any equivalent to this today that you 15 would point out?
Yes, the cap-signal in the French TGV [high-speed trains]. This is a 18 very sophisticated system such that if something happens to the conduc- 19 tor, the train slowly comes to a stop. So, we have replaced the block system 20 with the cap-signal. The cap-signal is in every compartment.The proletarianization of the working classes is only one form of militarization — a temporary form.
Massumi , Minneapolis: In a work, not unlike his odiers, which is nowhere more than a couple of degrees removed from concrete realia, from the slipping concatenations of empirical series, his unexpectedly evident statement of purpose might go overlooked: Looking at this more closely, what have we [i.
Paul Virilio - Negative Horizon
Real-time technologies, however, eliminate both inter- vals, and leave us with nothing but the interface of instantaneity, ubiquity and immediacy. Paradoxically, the dictatorship of movement exerted on the masses by the military powers led to the promotion of unable bodies. The indivisible security discerns in the bitter old man, excluded from the economic system by his modest pension and revenue, a last proletarian, a kind of attentive sentinel, immobile in the middle of the frenetic agitation of the social environment.
Virilio d: 71—87, , —20, a: But in the ballistic progress of weapons, the curvature of the earth has not stopped shrinking. Nonetheless, this type of totalitarian conflict can be realized on the earth only on condition of setting up infra structures that are durable in ubiquity.
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