Here, There, Everywhere

Is anyone else getting the 1984 vibe here? Virilio seems set on the idea that our world is doomed. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with his arguments (considering I don’t understand 3/4 of them), but I did find a few of his points quite thought-provoking. Here’s what interested me most:

1) Virilio’s suspicion that soon we will be faced with “the death of geography.” We only have a “temporal perspective,”¬†meaning that, for example, when we are warned about the weather by someone who already knows what the day’s forecast looks like (i.e. a weather man or a friend on the telephone), our day is ruined. It hasn’t been ruined by the rain, but by the idea of the rain. So it’s more than the future of our day looking grim, our day is already grim, because of the insight we’ve gained through telecommunication. Here is proven the death of proximity, of our own reality. We don’t have to be close or present to something for it to affect us. We merely hear of it through the telephone or the television and it has either harmed or helped us. This is our new reality, our virtual reality in which we don’t actually have to participate or even be a part of. We become ubiquitous– a trait which, before new technology, was only ascribed to the divine. Thus, geography no longer matters.

2) His idea of metropolitization. In Virilio’s opinion, we shouldn’t be worried about a high concentration of “city-networks,” but rather we should fear the “world-city,” which would be “the city to end all cities.” Every current city would become a suburb therein, thus creating an “omnipolitan” world where there will be no centre and whose circumference is everywhere. It will be all-encompassing, except for the ‘have-nots’ who don’t have access to the metropolis’ technological advances. They will be, according to Virilio, more destitute and polarized than today’s Third World countries.

3) His criticism of technologically-based sexuality. He discusses how we now prefer to replace a human partner with an image or a voice– the shadow of the real thing– choosing a metaphor over a literal being. There is a fear of rejection, and so there is a distancing between the two parties, created through technology. This leads to objectifying others as a means for sexual pleasure instead of relationship. He points to sex trafficking as a result of this technologically powered objectification.

In what ways do we find ourselves choosing virtual reality over physical reality? How may this affect us & later generations long-term?


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