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Paul Virilio (1932 - )

Lifespan: 1932 -

Related: urban planning - French philosophy

Themes and tropes: hypermodernism - integral accident - postmodern philosophy - cinema - speed - war

For Virilio, the transition from feudalism to capitalism was driven not primarily by the politics of wealth (mercantilism) and production techniques but by the mechanics of war. Virilio argues that the traditional feudal fortified city disappeared because of the increasing sophistication of weapons and possibilities for warfare. For Virilio, the concept of siege warfare became rather a war of movement. In Speed and Politics, he argues that 'history progresses at the speed of its weapons systems'. [Apr 2006]

Pure War (1983/1998) - Paul Virilio, Sylvère Lotringer [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] [...]

If Walter Benjamin had one true intellectual descendant who extended his inquiries into the second half of the twentieth century, this must be Paul Virilio. Indeed, Benjamin and Virilio share a number of crucial affinities both in terms of their method and the themes they explore. The method: both are able to practice the most difficult philosophical method of all -- that of induction -- inferring general laws of culture and history from the minute details of everyday life. (This sets them apart from most critics who are predisposed to see such details through the filters of already existing theoretical paradigms.) Both also abandon the conventional method of theoretical exposition which requires the writer to first clearly state general arguments and then support them by particular examples in favor of another method, borrowed from cinema: montage of images. --Lev Manovich

Bunker Archeology: Texts and Photos (1975) - Paul Virilio [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Paul Virilio (born 1932 in Paris) is a cultural theorist who is most well-known for his writings about the military in relation to architecture, culture and history. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Virilio [Feb 2005]

Wired interview

Over the course of a diverse career as professor of architecture, film critic, urbanist, military historian, peace strategist, and intellectual provocateur, French author Paul Virilio has produced more than a dozen books. His writings move with a rare fluidity from the quotidian (train wrecks and city planning) to the exotic (stock market crashes and the ultramodern war machine). Since writing his first book, Bunker Archeology, a study of Hitler's "Atlantic Wall," Virilio has gone on to crisscross the circuitry of modern thinking with genre-busting studies of the impact of speed on politics ("the dromocratic revolution") and the co-evolution of war and cinema ("the logistics of perception"). Turning his corrosive intellect to the impact of technology on war, the body, and the media, Virilio pierces some of the darker veilings of the future. James Der Derian met with Virilio in Paris. --Wired Magazine, May 1996 http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.05/virilio.html

Discourse on the horror of art (2002) - Paul Virilio, Enrico Baj

Originally titles Discorso sull’orrore dell’arte, Discourse on the horror of art is about the “horror of art” – is it the horror of contemporary art for itself or the horror it causes among public? Baj, as a painter, and Virilio as an urban planner, ask each other some questions about the statute and perception of art and the sites where it is housed and exhibited. The present destiny of art seems to be a key to understand the atmosphere of our time, as indeed the market of art anticipated the New Economy and the Virtual..

See also: art horror

More books

The Aesthetics of Disappearance (1980) - Paul Virilio [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

In The Aesthetics of Disappearance, Paul Virilio traces out the relationship of biological optics to the technological "production of appearance." In the perceptual gaps demanding illusions of continuity, Virilio posits a hyper-opportunity for the production of art in speed. Jumping from Old Testament parable to the history of contemporary cinema, to the history of philosophy and contemporary technology, Virilio teleports among an irregular constellation of high-speed artifice where love is a motion faster than light and the paradoxes of empiricism mire science in "motion without mobility." --from the publisher

  1. Paul Virilio : From Modernism to Hypermodernism and Beyond (2000) - John Armitage (Editor) [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Self-professed `urbanist', political thinker, and `critic of the art of technology', Paul Virilio is one of the most significant and stimulating French cultural theorists writing today. Increasingly hailed as the 'archaeologist of the future' and the inventor of the concept of `dromology', Virilio is noted for his proclamation that the logic of ever increasing acceleration lies at the heart of the organization and transformation of the contemporary world.

    Paul Virilio incorporates a variety of studies and asks who is Paul Virilio? What is the significance of dromology and disappearance? And what are the principal cultural themes of his important writings? The first book to afford a properly critical evaluation of Virilio's cultural theory, it includes an interview with Virilio; a recently translated example of his work; and a select bibliography of his writings. The commissioned contributions by leading cultural and social theorists examine Virilio's work from his early speculations on military and urban space to his current writings on dromology, politics, new communications technologies, disappearance, and the fallout from `the information bomb'. Paul Virilio is required reading for all fellow archaeologists of the future, `dromologists', and other students of critical cultural and social theory.--Book Description

  2. Speed & Politics - Paul Virilio [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    With this book Paul Virilio inaugurated the new science whose object of study is the "dromocratic" revolution. First to use the concept of speed as a definining concept for contemporary civilization, Virilio unveils his theories of dromodology here for the first time. Understanding the disappearance of power into a vector of speed where knowledge-power is eliminated to the benefit of moving-power, Virilio discovers the new terrain of "virtual" war long before its popularization in the Gulf War of the early 1990s. Building on the work of Morand, Marinetti, and McLuhan, Virilio presents a vision more radical politically than that of any of his French contemporaries. Speed as the engine of destruction....In these pages the reader surveys dromocratic aesthetics with its eloquent X-ray of speed flesh, speed wars, speed power, and speed fetishism. This work prevents the reader from becoming the "last man" drifting in all those "metabolic vehicles."

  3. Art and Fear - Paul Virilio [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Traces the twin development of art and science over the 20th Century, a development that emerges as a nightmare dance of death. In Virilio's vision, art and science vie with each other for the destruction of the human form as we know it. At the start of the 21st century science has finally left art behind as genetic engineers prepare to turn themselves into the worst of expressionists, the Human Genome Project their godless manifesto, the human being, the raw material for new and monstrous forms of life. Virilio makes all the connections clear: between the way early 20th Century avant-gardes twisted and tortured the human form before making it vanish in abstraction and the blasting to bits of men who were no more than cannon fodder in the trenches of the Great War; between the German Expressionists' hate-filled portraits of the damned and the "medical" experiments of the Nazi eugenicists; between the mangled messages of sensationalist advertising and terrorism. A brutal logic rules this shattering of representation: our ways of seeing are now fatally shaped by unprecedented "scientific" modes of destruction. --John Armitage

  4. The Information Bomb (1998) - Paul Virilio, Chris Turner (Translator) [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    A prolific French intellectual known for his pronouncements on media, computers and technology, Virilio writes in the subversive tradition of Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard and Theodore Roszak. In this bracing collection of essays and articles, originally published in France in 1998, he emerges as a deeply skeptical critic of "techno-culture," his blanket term encompassing cyberspace, Hollywood and pop culture, transgenic foodstuffs, animal cloning and the human genome project. Without much evidence, Virilio charges that the United States is waging an "information war" by using the Internet, the Web and global communications to foster "cybernetic colonialism," a monopoly of knowledge abetting control over minds everywhere and over the politics of sovereign states. Far from history coming to an end, as Francis Fukuyama suggested, techno-progress, in Virilio's diagnosis, is driving a new era of all-out globalization, spreading virtual realities, mass culture, biotechnology and weapons of mass destruction across the planet. This opens up possibilities for totalitarian control, social engineering and telesurveillance, he warns. Included are pieces on the space race, the suicidal Heaven's Gate cybercult, the divorce of science from ethics, the controversial "Sensation" art exhibit and other topics Virilio astutely sets in the context of our modern age of "pseudo-individualism" and a "liberal hedonism" that is "nothing more than 'every man for himself.'" While many of his prognoses are exaggerated and his academic prose can be tough sledding, Virilio's cyber-skepticism is a refreshing antidote to the "global village" mantra of Net gurus.--From Publishers Weekly, amazon.com

  5. Bunker Archeology: Texts and Photos (1975) - Paul Virilio [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    The Atlantic Wall has never been as famous as the Maginot or Siegfried line. Built in less than 4 years on the entire French coastline to forestall an Allied landing, this system of fortification designed by General Todt is composed of almost 15,000 separate constructions including 4,000 major structures and 9,000 artillery batteries which linked the fortified ports. On 6th June 1944, the Allied landings put it out of commission once and for all.

    In the aftermath of the War, the author started the research of this defence system from a new standpoint, beginning this study which combines the objectivity of the historian, the awe with which the structures inspired in him as a boy, and the aesthetics and philosophy of the modern mind.

    This is a photographic and historic study of one of the great lines of fortification of World War II, including a strategic and design analysis of each type of structure - bunkers, observation posts, etc.

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