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The Evolution Of Speed Through Technology

1640 words - 7 pages

The Evolution of Speed Through Technology
Virilio and Gleick use speed as an analytic tool/concept to understand post-contemporary society. Both authors trace the
evolution of speed through technology. However, Virilio sees the evolution of speed through war and Gleick analyses speed
through the evolution of "time". Virilio?s technological military determinism in ?Speed and Politics? illustrates how we lost
slowness through technology and further more how it was developed for the purposes, and from the logic, of war. In ?Faster?,
James Gleick provides context for the complexity of post-industrial life and its transformation by technology. He tries to
define our relationship with ?time? to understand post-contemporary society. He places our culture's infatuation with speed into
a context; historically, technically, and psychologically. Gleick dissects time, showing us how the ability to measure time in
ever more exact ways has affected us and the world in which we live in. He claims: ?if we don?t understand time, we become its
victims?. Gleick and Virilio?s technological determinism illustrates that technology, not humanity, is responsible for
determining the direction and development of human life.
Virilio argues that the city, politics, culture, human presence and values are decaying due to the speed/acceleration of life.
?We are passengers of the empty circle who only wish to arrive before they leave. Speed is a perfect will to impotence?. Virilio
uses speed as an analytic tool to theorize a post-contemporary society. He develops his post-structuralist critique through the
lens of his new methodology, ?dromology?; the science, and study of speed. "Dromomatics" alters our perceptions of speed,
examines the role of speed in history and its important functions in urban and social life, warfare, the economy, transportation
and communication.
?In this precarious fiction speed would suddenly become a destiny, a force of progress, in other words a "civilization" in which
each speed would be something of a "religion" in time? [141].
This "dromocratic revolution" involves means of fabricating speed with the steam engine, then the combustion engine, and in our
day nuclear energy and instantaneous forms of warfare and communication.

Technology is used to build the global war machine, ?the more speed increases, the faster freedom decreases? [142]. According to
Virilio the phenomenon of technology came in large part from the arsenal and war economy. The author?s concept of
post-contemporary reality is founded on the sociology of military technology, which changes the contemporary perceptions of
space and time.
?the transportation capacity created by the mass production of automobilies [?] can become a social assault, a revolution
sufficient and able to modify the citizen?s way of life by transforming all the consumer?s needs, by...

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