Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How is Paul Virilio Like The Joker?

In Art as Far As The Eye Can See Paul Virilio makes this argument about technological progress actually amounting to increased risk- and tying that into an earlier theme of is book, panic. In citing the Millau viaduct, as well as the Airbus super jumbo jet, he says that the capacity to lose life is far greater because of both transport apparatus' ability to transport life in greater numbers, to an 'excess'.

"Two kinds of accident confront us today: the accident in the essay, the test, one that happens in the discovery of a substance, noxious or otherwise, or the invention of some technical object or other, useful or otherwise; and the accident in excess of all kinds - the sporting, not to say Olympic, quest for record results at any cost, including the lives of innocent victims."

So because the Millau viaduct is so high and transports more people than any other cable stay bridge in Europe, and because the Airbus can transport all of DC or Wyoming (same population) the likelyhood for disaster is heightened. My thing is that the Bridge at Millau isn't even the longest, or most dangerous. (Hello! Made in China) In fact it is one of the shortest.

This, for me, ties in to what the Joker says in the Dark Knight about when things don't go according to plan. (In the hospital room with the newly disfigured Harvey Two-Face) But, Joker says, if the plan is horrible to begin with...such as during wartime..."If a truckload of soldiers gets blown up, nobody panics because it is all according to plan. " I think this is Virilio's point. The excessive, he would say, advances will be terrible if the unintended collapse, or crash, ever occurs. And because the potential is there - the plan is terrifying.

The book goes on to say that our capacity for understanding risk has collapsed with our new found ability to see and experience things virtually, telescopically.

If this sounds like a book you would like to read...PICK IT UP! But this has probably been the most depressing post I have ever posted.

Well Bat-Fans! We will resume next time with some hilarity. I promise.

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