The Restricted Economy of Speed
Firstly, I want to dedicate this essay to Jean-Luc Nancy. I write these few sentences on the 24th of August the year 2021. Nancy died yesterday, on the 23rd. His work on community is invaluable. His thoughts on Bataille’s theories are not only innovative, but daring. He was truly a great thinker, with a theoretical presence which demanded respect in his own right. May he rest in peace, and his memory not be forgotten. Jean-Luc Nancy: 26 July 1940–23 August 2021.
Earlier in this book (see Violins and Virilio above), I presented speed as something present in the tension of everyday life. Both speed and slowness is present in erotic moments. But, I acknowledged in that essay that eroticism isn’t always fast, but neither is it always slow. Speed does not operate in a linear manner, in a logical, or productive manner in eroticism. Thus, I was not talking about speed in the way Virilio talks about speed. I think that it is time to analyze Paul Virilio and his book Speed and Politics. Let us begin.
For Virilio, the revolutionary masses no longer find themselves in “place of production, but in the street, where for a moment it stops being a cog in the technical machine and itself becomes a motor (machine of attack), in other words a producer of speed”. Speed is still produced. Thus, a restricted economy of speed is established. Bodies become productive. The street becomes a political territory where speed becomes the produced impetus of the revolutionary motor; “All through history there has been an unspoken, unrecognized revolutionary wandering, the organization of a first mass transportation — which is nonetheless revolution itself”.
The street comes to gain traffic as the population center that is the city grows, and this is urbanization; “where there is traffic, there is also the urban area”. The traffic of the street is of population and commodities. The state controls the flows of traffic. The city becomes a sort of fortress which produces speed by controlling and propelling things forward; the city engenders movement. Stasis must be avoided at all costs. Slowness is closer to stasis, and thus the restricted economy of speed produces faster and faster speeds. All machines repeat in unison “stasis is death”. The city is running from death and silence. Thus, the city is running from dreams and this is why “the city knows no rest”.
Virilio announces that “[t]he time has come … to face the facts: revolution is movement, but movement is not a revolution. Politics is only a gear shift, and revolution only its overdrive”. All revolutions have to do with production because they are movements. The production found in the revolutionaries of the street is not only the production of speed, but also the production of space. Movements go from one place to another. The street produces itself as a space for politics. And this fact is revealed in the revolutionary song.
Militant revolutionaries produce their songs, and “the revolutionary song is a kinetic energy that pushes the masses toward the battlefield”. Revolutionaries produce their own impetus. Movement engenders itself. But it isn’t a slow movement which is engendered. Not at all. Rather, it is a fast movement, and therefore speed is produced. Speed produces itself. It is not a slow movement because slowness is analogous to death in the restricted economy of speed. Virilio demonstrates this when he says, “As soon as the shot had been fired, therefore, the infantryman had to rush toward the enemy cannons. His life then depended on his running speed; if he was too slow, he died literally disintegrated point blank by the firing end…”. Warfare loses its dizzying frenzies of combat and becomes mechanized. Warfare is nothing but a tool of politics and therefore movement.
For Virilio, “Speed is Time saved in the most absolute sense of the word, since it becomes human Time directly torn from Death”. Speed is all about saving time in the sense of getting from one point to another in a faster and thus less time-consuming manner. Speed is productive because it is the negation of time-consuming action, that is, time-consumption. Time-consumption is thus Slowness. The restricted economy is of speed, there is no general economy of speed. Speed is all about avoiding maximizing useful action with the limited human time we have. Speed is only fast because of death, because it avoids death. Politics is thus all about increasing motion. But there is a difference between Virilio’s concept of movement and Bataille’s concept of movement. Virilio is looking at movement in relation to the human subject. Movement, for Virilio, is produced by the subject, and it also produces subjects(?). For Bataille, “Movement is the figure of love, incapable of stopping at a particular being, and rapidly passing from one to another”. Movement isn’t produced by subjects, for Bataille. Movement doesn’t produce subjects either. Rather, movement is the movement of the subject back to death; “Beings only die to be born, in the manner of phalluses that leave bodies in order to enter them”. For Bataille, movement is a movement of rotation, but not in the sense of the rotation of the earth, but rather in the sense of “the male shaft penetrating the female and almost entirely emerging, in order to reenter”. Movement is the movement of discontinuous things toward continuity. Movement sets subjects in motion toward erotic dissolution. Rotation leads to eroticism.
So, in respect to Virilio, Bataille doesn’t see movement as a movement away from death, but toward it. But then again, for Bataille, movement isn’t even movement in the conventional sense in that the rotation of the earth sets subjects in motion, and these subjects tend toward communication. For Bataille then, the Time of (erotic) movement isn’t human Time but rather TIME which has broken free of its anthropocentric chains. Thus, there is no disagreement between Virilio and Bataille because Virilio is just analyzing how subjects attempt to homogenize moving flows through machines and all of their various mechanisms.
Speed becomes the foundation of security, and death is denied.
Bataille’s conception of movement (hereinafter referred to as ‘erotic movement’) is restricted by political structures. Speed limits are put in place to stop rotation from spiralling into eroticism. Virilio describes speed limits as “vehicular prohibitions[s]”. But breaking a speed limit is not a transgression in the Bataillean sense because one is limited by the road (the street), that is, by space. The street causes cars to be nothing more than circulating particles within the compositional networks of planet machine. While cars are time savers, walking is different. The shoe allows walking to become useful. Walking barefoot is therefore one of, if not the most time-consuming mode of movement.
Politics is all about time. Socialists and communists fight what Virilio calls a “time war”. They fight for leisure time. Time is still useful even when extracted from commodity production. Capitalists hold the inverse, time is devoted to commodity production. Time is useful across the political spectrum. Politics is wholly opposed to time-consumption. Time-consumption is the unproductive consumption, that is, the expenditure of time. Politics, political structures, and modes of political organization become all about movement, all about action.
Everything becomes logicized and mechanized:in the rehabilitation camps of Vietnam, “rehabilitation has to do with the mechanical programming of invalid of handicapped bodies; it claims to repair them”. Bodies which do not fall in line are dissident bodies and these “bodies are guilty of being out of synch, [and thus] they have to be put back in the party line, at the speed of an entire population in maneuvers”.
Erotic movements are thus domesticated, supressed, “repaired,” etc. All of politics finds its expression in the supression of the erotic. Speed supresses the erotic, just as determinate negation supresses the erotic. Is speed thus of determinate negation, of identity? Is speed a form of determinate negation?
Claiming a right to the sea or to air space is “another way of parceling out the universe: rather than confronting each other on the same terrain” where communication can take place. Modern naval warfare tactics, what Virilio calls “fleet in being,” domesticate violence because the new idea of violence that it generates is a “violence” “that no longer comes from direct confrontation and bloodshed, but rather from the unequal properties of bodies”. Violence is completely domesticated because speed is seen as violent, as extreme, etc. when it is anything but that; violence-domesticated-as-speed repeats the line that “violence can be reduced to nothing but movement”. So, Virilio is wrong when he says “the right to the sea very quickly became the right to crime, to a violence that was also freed from every constraint”. He is wrong because being is still present in the fleet. There is no transgression in the right to the sea because “the explorers, discoverers and raiders of every stripe, while continuing to seek uncharted lands, equally adhere to the invention of passages, in other words to the realization of the absolute, uninterrupted, circular voyage, since it involves neither departure nor arrival”. There is no transgression in the right to the sea because the absolute circular voyage doesn’t lead to its dissolution as the Hegelian circuit does. The fleet in being doesn’t actually enter into continuity because it is a “floating” machine which “[simulates] its own wreck”. The fleet in being tries to act like it is transgressive but it is in the very fact that it intentionally acts that it betrays any notion of loss.
The fleet in being tries to act like it is transgressive but it is in the very fact that it intentionally acts that it betrays any notion of loss. The beauty of combat is displayed in the interpenetration of fluent bodies and communication that takes place on the battlefield.
Speed is stuck within an idealist conceptual matrix because speed is “a pure idea without content”. Speed is of the morality of decline because “[i]t is speed as the nature of dromological progress that ruins progress; it is the permanence of the war of Time that creates total peace, the peace of exhaustion”. Speed is of the decline like all those apparatuses and mechanisms of the restricted economy.
It is colonialism which teaches us the fact that “to be quick means to stay alive”. Speed is life. Was Virilio right then? Is slowness a mode of resistance?
“Speed is the hope of the West”; speed breaks down all limits, “it hurls both projectiles and itself”.
Machines aid other machines in making things run smoothly, that is, productively; “It was discovered that the damage caused by the war machines to the mechanics of the surviving bodies could be compensated for by other machines — prostheses”.
Machines make all bodies useful. Virilio gives a great example of this when he invokes the German army of the first world war. He says, “in 1914, the German army had few or no exemptions, for it had decided to make physical handicaps functional by using each man according to his specific disability: the deaf will serve in heavy artillery, hunchbacks in the automobile corps, etc.”. War becomes about slowing your opponent down. But war isn’t only about speed. It is also about practicality. Virilio holds that “[p]ractical war divides the Assault into two phases”. The first phase is about infrastructure. Logistical territories are created through the development of infrastructure.
“Stasis is death really seems to it to be the general law of the World”. This is the law of all machines then. Virilio sees that it is in those intense circulation, fast movement, speed, etc. that the restricted economic machine begins to enforce its laws which prohibit death.
Virlio then says something that astounds us. He says, “Here we are dealing with works that are practical in ways that Hegel could not imagine”. Hegel, a restricted economist par excellence, can not even imagine the practicality of today’s machines. But today is always tomorrow. This is what Nick Land meant when he argued that “Virtual Capital-Extinction is immanent to production. The short-term is already hacked by the long-term. The medium-term is reefed on schizophrenia. The long-term is cancelled”. Let me explain how “Bataillean” Land’s latter words are. Production entails, like all restricted economic mechanisms, its own dissolution. In fact, it is predicated on it. Production requires that excess precede it. The restricted economist just does not realize that excess proceeds production, but neither do they realize that excess also follows production. The immanent moment, or the short-term, is infinitely deferred by the focus on the future. But, at the same time, the future, the long-term, is inevitably “cancelled” in that the subject will inevitably annihilate itself through expenditure. Speed is so fast that it speeds past the present moment, always thinking about its future destination which it is so speedily heading toward. Any dromocratic regime is one which is of restricted economy and the cancellation of chance, if not the prohibition of it.
Historical repetition cancels chance, and Reason becomes a machine.
The dromocratic State excludes all that is slow, remember that “[t]he State-fortress, its power, its laws exist in places of intense circulation”.
We must speak of the idealism of speed once more: speed is about movement which is “ideally without obstacles” [emphasis mine].
Note that Virilio says, “If we can then speak of class societies, we can only do so by designating the classes according to place, as we suggested earlier. If class struggles develop, they happen openly on the terrain, for the conquest of a dominant place”. Does class then no longer exist in our dromological regime that is the restricted economy? Are we moving so fast that class positions are never held?
Dromological social logics are social logistics. Within dromocratic regimes, bodies become without souls, that is, without mana; “Dromological progress … imposes the idea of two types of soul: one weak … because it is dependent on its environment; the other powerful because it has put its ‘mana,’ its will, out of reach”. Now, to extract Virilio here from any possibility of idealism because of his evocation of the soul, we will make him speak against himself. He says that mana is “potential substance indistinguishable from its environment, not individual but plural, multiform, fluidform, coagulated here and there in social, animal or territorial bodies”. We must disagree with him on the idea that mana is plural or multiform. Any pluralism or idea of multiplicity is a denial of the summit-decline model. But mana is fluid, that is, formless. Allan Stoekl says, “[Bataille’s anti-idea of matter is a] matter that is an end in itself, leading nowhere; but this matter is always prior, an unformed, or definitively formless, ‘stuff,’ mana, which circulates through entities and communities, which opens their possibility, but which is never reducible to them”. Matter, which “is” mana, is formless, that is, fluid in its form(?). It allows form composition and decomposition. Form is given to the formless, but there is still a remainder which is formless (irreduciblity is a fact, and the accursed share proves this). Virilio is right when he looks at mana as having a fluidform, but let us extract Virilio further from idealism. Mana is not a type of soul, but a type of matter. Bodies have a materiality. But it is the body “without” matter, or as the idealist Virilio would say, “bodies with no soul,” that is impoverished. Now, the body can never really be without its material base, without base matter. But it is from a position of transcendence that the body (the subject) takes the perspective of the restricted economy, and falsely sees itself disassociated from matter. So, let us now return to the materialist Virilio who does not know what he is saying. Subjects enter into Nazi camps to be “put to work in the mines, on logistical worksites, subjected to medical or social experiments, the ultimate recuperaton of fats, bones, hair… Or, a happier final solution, as exchange value for other energy sources”. Virilio then says, “What else has the proletariat been since antiquity, if not an entirely domesticated category of bodies, a prolific, engine-towing class, the phantom presence in the historical narrative of a floating population linked to the satisfaction of logistical demands?”. The working class has no revolutionary potential, except as a conduit for flows of increased speed, that is, politics. Politics has no revolutionary potential. Now, I am not using revolutionary in the sense of how Virilio uses it, but rather in the sense of rebellious. The present-day working class is not a threat to the current order of things, because they only become a threat in their sacrificial expenditure. One cannot be and be a threat to the current order of things, because if one is, then they are a thing. The whole valorization of the working class, as industrious, as productive, as champions and masters of labor, etc., is nothing but an aesthetical remnant of old socialist projects such as the USSR. The working class cannot be, and be the vehicle for escape, for exit. In fact, a political movement which has the working class as its valorized basis, is nothing but a movement into further domestication.
Virilio then acknowledges that a machine “could only be maintained by setting its limits, as well as those of the size of populations and the areas of extension. Strategic calculation is likened to statistical calculation. The fortress [the State-machine], with its entrances and exists, is a primary schema of the strategic calculator”. We must therefore question this idea of class society, as Virilio says we must do, because we must discuss man’s perceived right to space.
Social conflicts arise from rivalries between those who occupy and preserve an eco-system as the place that specifies them as a family or group, and therefore deserves every sacrifice, including sudden death. For if ‘to be is to inhabit’ (in ancient German, buan), not to inhabit is no longer to exist. Sudden death is preferable to the slow death of he who is no longer welcome, of the reject, of the man deprived of a specific place and thus of his identity.
Social conflict arises between those maintain form. Once form is lost, man loses himself, and he is deprived of a specific place, as Virilio says, as well as his identity, and thus, without a place to be, he is not. It is the loss of space, of a place to be, of territory, that we are discussing. It is in deterritorialization, the loss of territory, that identity is lost as we now know; “For this enclosed society, repression can only be a constraint to departure, to exodus, in other words, to deterritorialization as a loss of identity”. It is in this exodus, this expenditure of excess population that “[s]urplus populations disappear in the obligatory movement of the voyage. The increasingly numerous bodies rejected by the poliorecetic order become physical forces moving nowhere, unseen zones, the immeasurable interstices of the strategic schema, the tolerated movement of perilous pilgrimages, of children’s crusades, of the poor (‘vagabonds without work, every able-bodied mendicant’)”. When I speak of deterritorialization as well as machines (in this essay), I am not speaking of it in the sense of how Deleuze and Guattari use the two terms, but rather to how Virilio uses it (and I say this to only clear up confusion, if there was any). And keeping this latter clarification in mind, we can say that deterritorialization is expenditure. But this whole movement of the surplus being cut off helps us realize something: every machine is a restricted economy, with its own excluded abject shit, and restricted economy scales. This is to say, while the individual might be his own machine, he is a part of the machine of society, which is a part of the State machine, which is a part of the planet machine. These are scales of composition, because machines are always composed, they have parts which are themselves restricted economies. Virilio recognizes the process of abjection within the movement of surplus population quite clearly when he says, “They are forbidden to remain for more than twenty-four hours within the communal fortress, and are driven out of other cities; the citizens themselves are forbidden to shelter them under pain of stiff fines”. The excluded are eventually reincluded as labor; “The State will then intervene, substituting revenue systems for public charity and local duties such as the ‘franc sale’ (the right to buy and sell salt tax-free), before the profitability of the social excess as work force becomes the most obvious solution: obligatory labor only slightly foreshadows obligatory military service”. This obligation is even more productive because “it must never hinder the prerogatives of independent manufacturers”. And this reveals something about production: “Factory work must not escape the dictatorship of movement. It reproduces the enclosure on the spot, in an obligatory and absurd kinetic cycle, the slow death of the reject”. Production is inscribed in Speed. Speed is produced, and it produces production. Could this not be seen as a critique of Deleuze and Guattari? There is no production of production which is desiring-production, there is just Speed, and all things move “with it”. But back to this kinetic cycle. Virilio then tells a story, and we are hear to listen:
I remember staying, about thirty years ago, on the banks of the Loire river near a state psychiatric hospital and, as a child, being surprised to see hordes of inmates pushing carts in the dry riverbed, forced by their guards to fill them with sand and roll them farther on, only to empty them into the water and begin again. This series of aberrant movements under a burning sun continued interminably, while, from time to time, one of the wretches threw himself screaming into the Loire…
Virilio says, “The loss of identity remains linked to exclusion from a geographic group, to setting a trajectory in motion, to putting on the road a child ‘who has not yet reached the age of reason’”. Reason? What does that have to do with anything? Everything…
Liberal reason enters into the mix. Democratic power (liberal ideology) makes it to where the soul, or, after our previous discussion about mana, matter becomes individual, that is, matter is incorrectly seen as reducible to the subject: “subjects are just matter” they will say without knowing that the subject depends on matter’s suppression. Virilio says, “With the coming of democratic power, we see a perversion of primitive transmigration: the soul, by becoming individual, has become Reason, in other words the seat of a prescriptive rule of our actions, our movements, even the totality of our destinies”.
Reason and reasoning domesticates bodies, domesticates matter (or tries to at least): “the categories of understanding are a priori” they will say not knowing that a priori reasoning is nothing more than idealist fodder which has a presupposed moral ontology at the basis of it. They will say, “All objects have quantity, quality, relation, and mode. That is just how it is,” and they will say this without even thinking about the fact that their claim is not saying how it is, but how things should be. They think “but Reason says, ‘this is how things should be according to myself”. But, and let us note this, base matter has nothing to do with the object of the subject, but those Kantians will assume that it has all those latter properties that all objects supposedly do, because they cannot even for a moment think about the unknowable, because if they were to, thinking would fail, and it can never do that for a liberal. What Reason does is “act on foreign bodies which are distant in time and space”. In fact, Reason is the production process which produces rigid space and linear time. Land says, “Bataille’s matter is that which must be repressed as the condition of articulation, whereby immanent continuity is vivisected in transcendence”. Every body has its materiality suppressed, and turned into “technical bodies or technological objects”. And this is precisely why Reason is not “a form of death” “for the body” like Virilio claims it to be. Reason is what gives life to objects, Reason produces objects. And this is also why psychoanalysis in Virilio’s view is nothing but a practice of social control. Psychoanalysis tries “to bring the unconscious back to the expression of a reasonable consciousness”.
“[B]odies are metabolic vehicles”. Once the materiality of the body has been suppressed, “[f]oreign ‘intelligences’ breathe into the vacant body an inhabitual dynamism,” and with this possession of the body, the body becomes a thing which is subject to the dynamics of dromology, and therefore of fast circulation.
The materialism of Virilio’s text, Speed and Politics, is demonstrated when he confirms our previous suspicions when he says,
The brutal unveiling of the sexual act — sex education or pornography — as technical revelation is another way of boarding ‘ignorant’ bodies, the logical next step from the gymnasium: the famous physical culture, ‘Swedish stlye,’ is succeeded by the modern mixture of highway and sex, bodies thrown together by chance meetings; sexual collisions soon forgotten; autos, motorcycles stolen, raped and abandoned.
Virilio presents the totalizing problematic of the dromocratic-restricted-economy in the very fact that it has begun to supress the erotic on a unprecedented level. The amount of chance encounters of lovers is diminishing, because the dromocratic machine that is the restricted economy has begun to take dromological capitalism to the next level. Bataille notes, in the first volume of The Accursed Share, “For common capitalism, things (products and production) are not, as for the Puritans, what is becoming and wants to become; if things are within it, if it is itself the thing, this is in the way that Satan inhabits the soul of someone possessed, unbeknown to him, or that the possessed, without knowing it, is Satan himself”. Things, foreign intelligences, are always within bodies under dromological capitalism, and this causes the suppression of erotic movement in favor of Speed. Dromological machines realize they are going to breakdown if they dow’t take care of the problem that is the erotic. But the erotic cannot be erased. So they say to each other, “Why not recuperate it, why not stage eroticism like we stage pornos?”. So the machines produce sex acts instead of erotic acts, there is sexuality instead of eroticism. Sex becomes all teenagres can think about. In the present-day, the slang term “bodies” refers to the people you have fucked. So, when one asks “How many bodies do you have,” not only is there an attempt at quantifying the erotic (which fails because ‘bodies’ refers to bodies which have not been abstracted from the idealist schema of transcendence), but there is also an attempt at possesion (which fails too). Ultimately, dromological machines don’t suppress, nor recuperate, or stage eroticism because eroticism is the blindspot to Reason, Speed, and all machines. Thus, machines have the epistemological issue of trying to identify unidentifiable eroticism. Remember, base matter is non-logical difference: undifferentiated continuity has non-logical difference “within it,” and this is why the Night isn’t universal, contrary to Sartre’s critique of Bataille.
Technological vehicles outpace metabolic vehicles, and thus the proletariat, who are all metabolic vehicles, have come to an end because of the empire of speed. Speed is too productive to be restrained by the body; bodies begin to slow things down. Dromological capitalism wants to exclude base matter even more, and it does this by excluding the materiality of the body, that is, by excluding all bodies. Technological apparatuses take the place of bodies. Bodies are only used when they must be used, that is, only when they are useful. The restricted economy is trying to outlive life because life is too contaminated by death. Many contemporary theorists (e.g., Land) speak of techno-capitalism and AI going beyond humanity. But this is not the restricted economy going beyond humanity. The restricted economy requires discontinuous subjects. Does AI recognize scarcity? Does (post-singularity) AI have a finitude, a limit? If it does not then the restricted economy falls with humanity, making this movement of exclusion even more confusing and contradictory. AI is not of the general economy either, because it cannot expend. But we may come back to this question of AI in another essay.
Penetration becomes militarized. The penetration of the military into society is all about erasing the “distinction between the army and civilization”.
In the United States of America, the media becomes God, or rather there is God-as-the-media. God-as-the-media is the only thing that can “control the social chaos of American pan-humanity”. The media serves to guarantee “a certain civic cohesion,” and therefore guarantee “civil security itself”. The media is spews slave morality, they tell the herd of slaves (this herd is the American public) what to think, and like slaves, the American public thinks what the media tells them to think. This causes people to believe that what they are being told is the truth, and thus anyone that contests them is contesting truth, contesting God! They will say, “Well, that isn’t what I heard on the news!”. We atheologians can only laugh in response, but it is a laughter that comes from a fundamental anguish felt in the presence of such a reactionary and ressentiment-filled being. The media becomes that foreign intelligence which possesses bodies that are without matter (Virilio would say that these bodies are without souls, but we have already discussed this).
Bodies still have some use to dromological capitalism. The “figure of the worker … fills the kinetic disparity between slow war and rapid war”. The proletariat is militarized… Attacks must be accelerated, and these attacks must be against nature. The proletarian soldier repeats that very humanist movement of negating nature, and things get faster.
But let us now come back to the media and its methods of control. Mass media reinforces the restricted economy, because it is in the productive consumption (the viewing , the “digesting,” etc.) of media (information, knowledge, etc.) that the ideology of need is reproduced and perpetuated; “the mass media phantasmatically created a need for cars, refrigerators”. State machines create threats (e.g., communists in the US government (think of the Red Scare), the terrorists that have infiltrated American society, etc.) which are never there and in this way, State machines produce “the need for security”; consumption is productivized and utilized as “the consumption of protection”. In the present-day then, the everyday person “invests first and foremost in security, manages his own protection as best he can, and finally pays more to consume less”. State machines want to create the social precedent of minimizing consumption because they can’t even begin to deal with the chance of heterogeneity (unproductive consumption) entering into the “stable” order. All consumption that happens is productive consumption, but I am not saying that expenditure has been completely suppressed by dromological capitalism. I am not saying this because unproductive consumption contests society like a shock and it is never “here” because Being is nowhere.
For Virilio, security can “be likened to the absence of movement”. But, we must disagree. Security is what impels movement, because it causes us to always be running from death.
The code of production, for Virilio, aims at the infinite containment of consumption. Virilio says “repulsion sells more than attraction; this is what organizes our new social existence around the objects of protection” as if this was something we didn’t already know. Repulsion (from the corpse) has always organized society, because attraction and then contact with what one is repulsed from is always horrifying causing a manic laughter which deterritorialized the social territory which production organizes itself upon.
“It is no longer a system of consumption/production aiming at a democratic alliance, but the system of objects seeking to directly elect the military class or, more accurately, a technological and industrial development in the areas of weaponry”; things now determine the order of things, who could have guessed?
The negativity of speed is demonstrated by the fact that it is nothing more than “[t]he reduction of distances …. The negation of space”. Within our current dromological present-day, the world has become nothing but distance to negate”. Virilio holds that “we should note that the disintegration of matter is constantly deferred in the deterrent equilibrium of peaceful coexistence, but not so the extermination of distances”; nations differ annihilation, like the restricted economy defers expenditure, and thus the restricted economy would have never led to nuclear war because MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) is nothing but a humanist assumption about the rationality of a nation-state which never even begins to think about delirious convulsions (pressing the nuclear missile launch button).
Speed continues to close every distance which pops up. Machines are becoming faster, more productive, more efficient. Flows are being regulated. The body suppressed, or militarized, pushed into Attack. What we are seeing today is nothing more than the sanity of dromology which is a purifying sanity. It is only the insanity of doing something slowly that contests dromocratic regimes. Virilio was right about slowness being a form of “resistance” but we must be weary here. We mustn’t confuse slowness with being slow, these are not the same thing. God has a slowness to Him, He tries to calm intensities down. Now, God is Speed. He is the guarantor of the street, of the road. He is what allows for the street to be built, for the production of Speed to take place. But there is a point where dromological machines realize that they must make being slow fast. Being slow becomes seen as the faster, and more efficient way to do something because one is “doing it the right way”. Being slow becomes fast. But slowness is different from being slow. Slowness is not “[t]he search for God, for the absence of movement, for tranquillity”. Slowness is not the absence of movement, nor is it movement which is slowing down. It is unproductive “movement” which “opposes” the production of Speed and that which Speed produces. Slowness comes from the discombobulation that arises from one’s head being cut off. It is the bumping into the walls and the door instead of turning the knob and walking out. Slowness is chaotic, Speed is orderly. When things move fast, there cannot be collisions. Slowness is the moment of collision where two cars collide into one another, one can smell the burnt rubber… But obviously one cannot intentionally enter into a “state” of slowness because a car crash is not something volitionally reached, and this is why we call it an accident. The crash was never intended to happen, it just occured by chance. And chance breaks down machines, exploded cars melt to a crisp in the white hot heat of chance, of a chanced crash, of a chanced accident.
Slowness is headless, it heads in no direction (and thus does not head (in a direction) at all) because it is discombobulated from decapitation. Slowness is acephalic.
: Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics, trans. Semiotext(e) and Mark Polizzotti (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2006), 29.
: Ibid., 31.
: Ibid., 37.
[4–5]: Ibid., 40.
: Ibid., 43.
: Ibid., 47.
[8–9]: Ibid., 46.
[10–12]: Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939, ed. Allan Stoekl, trans. Donald M. Leslie, Carl R. Lovitt, and Allan Stoekl (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), 7.
: Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics, trans. Semiotext(e) and Mark Polizzotti (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2006), 51.
: Ibid., 52.
[15–16]: Ibid., 56.
: Ibid., 61.
[18–19]: Ibid., 62.
[20–21]: Ibid., 65.
: Ibid., 64.
[23–24]: Ibid., 68.
: Ibid., 69.
: Ibid., 70.
: Ibid., 78.
[28–29]: Ibid., 83.
: Ibid., 85.
[31–32]: Ibid., 89.
: Ibid., 90.
: Nick Land, Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings, 1987–2007, ed. Robin Mackay and Ray Brassier (Falmouth, UK: Urbanomic, 2011), 347.
: Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics, trans. Semiotext(e) and Mark Polizzotti (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2006), 90–91.
: Ibid., 89.
: Ibid., 94.
: Ibid., 95.
: Ibid., 96–97.
: Ibid., 96.
: Allan Stoekl, Bataille’s Peak: Energy, Religion, and Postsustainability (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2007), 21.
: Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics, trans. Semiotext(e) and Mark Polizzotti (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2006), 97–98.
[43–44]: Ibid., 98.
[45–47]: Ibid., 99.
: Ibid., 99.
[49–52]: Ibid., 101.
: Ibid., 105.
: Ibid., 107.
: Ibid., 108.
: Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism (an Essay in Atheistic Religion) (London, UK: Routledge, 1992), 122.
[57–60]: Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics, trans. Semiotext(e) and Mark Polizzotti (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2006), 108.
: Ibid., 109.
: Ibid., 109–110.
: Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy, Volume I: Consumption, trans. Robert Hurley (New York, NY: Zone Books, 1991), 136.
: Paul Virilio, Speed and Politics, trans. Semiotext(e) and Mark Polizzotti (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2006), 115.
: Ibid., 125.
[66–67]: Ibid., 126.
[68–69]: Ibid., 131.
[70–72]: Ibid., 139.
: Ibid., 142.
[74–76]: Ibid., 144.
: Ibid., 149.
: Ibid., 149–150.
: Ibid., 150.
: Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939, ed. Allan Stoekl, trans. Donald M. Leslie, Carl R. Lovitt, and Allan Stoekl (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), 201.
Bataille, Georges. The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy, Volume I: Consumption. Translated by Robert Hurley. New York, NY: Zone Books, 1991.
— — — . Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939. Edited by Allan Stoekl. Translated by Donald M. Leslie, Carl R. Lovitt, and Allan Stoekl. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985.
Land, Nick. Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings, 1987–2007. Edited by Robin Mackay and Ray Brassier. Falmouth, UK: Urbanomic, 2011.
— — — . The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism (an Essay in Atheistic Religion). London, UK: Routledge, 1992.
Stoekl, Allan. Bataille’s Peak: Energy, Religion, and Postsustainability. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.
Virilio, Paul. Speed and Politics. Translated by Semiotext(e) and Mark Polizzotti. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2006.