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University of Disaster Paperback – December 14, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0745645056 ISBN-10: 0745645054 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (December 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745645054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745645056
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,555,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'Whether analyzing anthropology or philosophy, architecture, poetry, war, or geopolitics, Paul Virilio's The University of Disaster employs a razor-sharp intellect and remarkable scholarship. It reveals contemporary French critical cultural theory to be a startling yet insightful field for anybody concerned with the global debates on technoscience, subjectivity, reality, and temporality.'
John Armitage, Northumbria University

'Paul Virilio has long been one of the most fascinating and provocative thinkers of our contemporary moment. In The University of Disaster, Virilio advances his thinking on the crises of the present age, and continues developing his original thinking on time, space, speed, technology, politics and the human sciences mixed in with reflections on contemporary events and thought. Once again, Virilio reveals himself to be a major theorist of our era whose thought continues to develop novel positions and provocations in the new millennium.'
Douglas Kellner, UCLA

From the Back Cover

‘The world of the future will be a tighter and tighter struggle against the limits of our intelligence’, announced Norbert Wiener... On top of such confinement, today we are faced not only with the greenhouse effect of global warming but also that of incarceration within the tighter and tighter limits of an accelerating sphere, a dromosphere, where depletion of the time distances involved in the geodiversity of the Globe rounds off the depletion of the substances produced by biodiversity. An unanticipated victim of this geophysical foreclosure is science - not only biology but also physics, the ‘Big Science’ now confronted by the space-time contraction of the known world and of knowledge once acquired here below.

Whence the threat, still unnoticed, of an accident in knowledge which will double the accident of polluted substances and put paid to this crisis of reason denounced by Husserl, with the extravagant quest for a substitute exoplanet, a new ‘Promised Land’ to be colonised as swiftly as possible; the climate necessary to the life of our minds, as much as to the life of our bodies, from then on, on this old Earth of ours, being like the fatal consequences of a long illness requiring hospitalisation.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John David Ebert on February 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
Virilio's latest book is an examination of the state of the planet and the humanities, both under siege by the arrogance of Big Science gone out of control, endocolonizing the body and dreaming of fantasies of exocolonizing outer space. The book is full of the same old brilliant Virilianisms: his wonderful point, for instance, about how the first photographs taken of a city from the air by the French photographer Nadar in 1858, when he floated above the city of Paris in a hot air balloon, created the earliest beginnings of the aerial view of the earth -- displacing and replacing Atget's intimate perspectival view of Paris streets and shops and merchants -- that eventually led to the firebombings of European cities in World War II, then to the satellization of the earth during the Cold War and now to our present fantasies of escaping from the earth in order to transform it into a star in the sky of some exotic planet.

Virilio's great insight, omnipresent throughout his books, is that human perception, including aesthetics, is changed by the increase of speed. In the early, slow exposure photographs of Atget or the panoramic photos of American cities in the 1920s, the duration of the exposure eliminated human beings from the photographs in favor of the photographer's obsession with fixity of place. But later, during the time of the interstate highways of the 1950s in America, automobiles are moving individuals so fast through the countryside that the city has all but disappeared from human perception. All one can see on the road is what's in the mirrors: rearview and sideview mirrors lock the attention into a state of stasis that makes everything else functionally invisible. Thus, alterations in speed change human perception.
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A really well written and interesting translation on virilios more recent work, also see steve redheads Paul virilio reader for more back ground if interested in this wonderfully insightful philosopher
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