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He is also well-known for his 'war model' of the growth of the modern city and the evolution of human society. He is also the inventor of the term 'dromology', meaning the logic of speed. His major works include War and Cinema , Speed and Politics and The Information Bomb in which he argues, among many other things, that military projects and technologies drive history. Like some other cultural theorists, he rejects labels - including 'cultural theorist' - yet he has been linked with post-structuralism and postmodernism. Some people describe Virilio's work as being positioned in the realm of the 'hypermodern'. This description seems most apt, as Virilio works very much with the concepts and artefacts of modernism. He has links with phenomenology, for example, and offers critiques of modernist art movements such as Futurism. His work has been compared to that of Baudrillard, Deleuze & Guattari, Lyotard and others, although many of these connections are problematic. Virilio describes himself as an 'urbanist'.
Virilio's predictions about 'logistics of perception' - the use of images and information in war - (in War and Cinema , 1984) were so accurate that during the Gulf War he was invited to discuss his ideas with French military officers. While Baudrillard famously argued that the (first) Gulf War did not take place, Virilio argued that it was a 'world war in miniature'.
Paul Virilio was born in Paris in 1932. After training at the Ecole des Metiers d' Art, Virilio specialised in stained-glass artwork, and worked alongside Matisse in churches in Paris. In 1950, he converted to Christianity. After being conscripted into the army during the Algerian war of independence, Virilio studied phenomenology with Merleau-Ponty at the Sorbonne.
In 1958, Virilio conducted a phenomenological enquiry into military space and the organization of territory, particularly concerning the 'Atlantic Wall' — the 15,000 Nazi bunkers built during World War II along the coastline of France and designed to repel any Allied assault. In 1963 he began collaborating with the architect Claude Parent and formed the 'Architecture Principe ' group. After participating in the May 1968 uprising in Paris, Virilio was nominated Professor by the students at the Ecole Speciale d' Architecture. In 1973 be became Director of Studies. In the same year, Virilio became director of the magazine L'Espace Critique . In 1975 he co-organised the Bunker Archeologie exhibition at the Decorative Arts Museum in Paris, a collection of texts and images relating to the Atlantic Wall. Since then he has been widely published, translated and anthologised.
In 1998, Virilio retired from teaching. His latest projects involve working with homeless groups in Paris and building the first Museum of the Accident.
The integral accident
Technology cannot exist without the potential for accidents.
Meaning: the 'science (or logic) of speed'. Dromology is important when considering the structuring of society in relation to warfare. 'Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a matter of movement and circulation.' Source
Logistics of perception
In contemporary warfare logistics does not just imply the movement of personnel, tanks, fuel and so on but also implies the movement of images both to and from the battlefield. Virilio talks a lot about the creation of CNN and the concept of the newshound . The newshound will capture images which will then be sent to CNN, which may then be broadcast to the public. This movement of images can start a conflict (Virilio uses the example of the events following the broadcasting of the Rodney King footage). The logistics of perception also relates to the televising of military maneuvers and the images of conflict that are watched not only by people at home but also by the military personnel involved in the conflict. The 'field of battle' also exists as a 'field of perception'.
War of movement
For Virilio, the transition from feudalism to capitalism was driven not primarily by the politics of wealth 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'.
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'The first deterrence, nuclear deterrence, is presently being superseded by the second deterrence: a type of deterrence based on what I call 'the information bomb' associated with the new weaponry of information and communications technologies. Thus, in the very near future, and I stress this important point, it will no longer be war that is the continuation of politics by other means, it will be what I have dubbed 'the integral accident' that is the continuation of politics by other means.' From Ctheory Interview With Paul Virilio 'The Kosovo War Took Place In Orbital Space: Paul Virilio in Conversation with John Armitage'
'The speed of light does not merely transform the world. It becomes the world. Globalisation is the speed of light.' ibid
'War was my university. Everything has proceeded from there.' From An Interview with James Der Derian
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