Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Integral Accident and the Shock of the Global

Everything that's going on now in the world was foreseen already in the 1970s, and not just by science fiction writers. It's good to step back from where we are and look backwards and forwards, then at the year 2012.  Many of the same political battles are being fought, the same kinds of wars. What is different?  Global communications. Some new industrial technologies and processes have come along, and with  them -- as Paul Virilio has pointed out -- new types of industrial accidents: "When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution . . . Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress."  (Virilio,1999). Good thing to remember, one hundred years after the sinking of the RMS Titanic and nearly a hundred years after the Great War, the "War to End All Wars."

Examples of exactly what Paul Virilio means abound. Just take the past decade, right off the bat: the levee and surge protection (engineering and planning) failures in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (2005), the Deepwater Horizon explosion and Gulf of Mexico oil spill (2010) and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in the wake of the 311 Earthquake and Tsunami (2011).  Engineering wonders, engineering failures. In economics, the 2008 global financial crisis, from which many parts of the world are still reeling. In wars, things go awry, too, and one can surmise that more disasters are already in the works.  

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.  

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