“Civilization or the militarization of science?”
With this typically hyperbolic and provocative question as a starting point, Paul Virilio explores the dominion of techno-science, cyberwar and the new information technologies over our lives ... and deaths. After the era of the atomic bomb, Virilio posits an era of genetic and information bombs which replace the apocalyptic bang of nuclear death with the whimper of a subliminally reinforced eugenics. We are entering the age of euthanasia.
These exhilarating bulletins from the information war extend the range of Virilio’s work. The Information Bomb spans everything from Fukuyama to Larry Flynt, the Sensation exhibition of New British Art to space travel, all seen through the optic of Virilio’s trenchant and committed theoretical position.
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Paul Virilio trained as an artist in stained glass, working with Braque and Matisse, as well as studying philosophy at the Sorbonne. In 1975 he was made director of the Ecole spéciale d’architecture in Paris. He retired from teaching in 1998 and now works with private organizations on projects to house the homeless in Paris. He has written many books, including War and Cinema, Open Sky, and Ground Zero.From Publishers Weekly:
A prolific French intellectual known for his pronouncements on media, computers and technology, Virilio writes in the subversive tradition of Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard and Theodore Roszak. In this bracing collection of essays and articles, originally published in France in 1998, he emerges as a deeply skeptical critic of "techno-culture," his blanket term encompassing cyberspace, Hollywood and pop culture, transgenic foodstuffs, animal cloning and the human genome project. Without much evidence, Virilio charges that the United States is waging an "information war" by using the Internet, the Web and global communications to foster "cybernetic colonialism," a monopoly of knowledge abetting control over minds everywhere and over the politics of sovereign states. Far from history coming to an end, as Francis Fukuyama suggested, techno-progress, in Virilio's diagnosis, is driving a new era of all-out globalization, spreading virtual realities, mass culture, biotechnology and weapons of mass destruction across the planet. This opens up possibilities for totalitarian control, social engineering and telesurveillance, he warns. Included are pieces on the space race, the suicidal Heaven's Gate cybercult, the divorce of science from ethics, the controversial "Sensation" art exhibit and other topics Virilio astutely sets in the context of our modern age of "pseudo-individualism" and a "liberal hedonism" that is "nothing more than 'every man for himself.'" While many of his prognoses are exaggerated and his academic prose can be tough sledding, Virilio's cyber-skepticism is a refreshing antidote to the "global village" mantra of Net gurus.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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