Speed and Politics
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In Speed and Politics, Paul Virilio argues that 'history progresses at the speed of its weapons systems'.
- Speed and Politics (1986; first published in France in 1977) is the matrix of Virilio's entire work. Building on the works of Morand, Marinetti, and McLuhan, Virilio presents a vision more radically political than that of any of his French contemporaries: speed as the engine of destruction. It presents a topological account of the entire history of humanity, honing in on the technological advances made possible through the militarization of society. Parallel to Heidegger’s vision of technology, Virilio sees speed—not class or wealth—as the primary force shaping civilization. In this ‘technical vitalism,’ multiple projectile—inert fortresses and bunkers, the ‘metabolic bodies’ of soldiers, transport vessels, and now information and computer technology—mutually prosthetize each other in a permanent assault on the world and, through it, on human nature. Written at a lightning-fast pace, Virilio’s landmark book is an split-second, overwhelming look at how humanity’s motivity has shaped the way we function today, as well as a view into what might come of it.
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