Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam!

Speed, Aesthetics, and War: an Introduction to Paul Virilio (In-Person)

Instructor: Isi Litke
The Array
45 Main Street, Suite 508
Brooklyn, NY 11201

The French architect, philosopher, and cultural critic Paul Virilio was “one of those special (and in a way accursed) writers who was right about things we don’t really want to know,” writes McKenzie Wark. A self-described “child of the Blitzkrieg” who spent his formative years in Nazi-occupied France, Virilio returned again and again to the themes of war, speed, and military technology—to the assertion that history “progresses at the speed of its weapons systems.” How has the rapid advancement of military and information technology transformed the character, terrain, and ends of modern warfare? How has the logic of militarization come to structure so much of everyday life? Whether dwelling on the co-evolution of  military and cinematic technologies and techniques, or on the novel forms of accident or catastrophe generated by each scientific achievement—as when we say that nuclear power entails the nuclear accident—Virilio invites us to ask: what happens to already contestable narratives of progress when we cease to regard technology in terms of novelty and efficiency and instead understand it through its failures and misuse? 

This course will serve as a general introduction to the life and work of Paul Virilio, beginning with his architecture and his 1975 photographic survey of the wartime bunkers of the Atlantic Wall, Bunker Archaeology. From there, and drawing on a range of texts—Speed and Politics (1977), The Aesthetics of Disappearance (1980), War and Cinema (1986), The Information Bomb (2000), The Original Accident (2005), and The Administration of Fear (2012) in particular—we’ll explore Virilio’s prescient account of the technologies and logistics of perception, as well as some of the key concepts he introduced, such as dromology, the integral accident, the aesthetics of disappearance, and pure and total war. Our primary engagement with Virilio will likely also include selections from his interlocutors, contemporaries, and interpreters, among them Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Michel Foucault, and Eyal Weizman.

Course Schedule

Tuesday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
July 09 — July 30, 2024
4 weeks


Registration Open

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