“So the DAY of general relativity is no longer the day created by the cycle, the revolution, of the sun, but rather a day of phototonic resolution, an astrophysical revelation that will, finally, allow a generalized readability of different durations — the visibility of time — just the way ocular accommodation or the focusing of a high-resolution lens enhances the crispness of a shot, a snapshot…
This is the impetus behind today’s race for high energies, the building of gigantic accelerators, like the collider ring twenty-seven kilometers in circumference, built by the Centre européen de recherche nucléaire (CERN), in Geneva; or the new proposal, put forward by certain physicists, anxious about the way experiment lags behind theory, to build a particle accelerator right round the Earth and to build an even vaster one in satellite space — just to enhance the brightness of the speed of light even further. This would mean the dawn of a subliminal day, bearing no relationship to the race of the Sun from sunrise to sunset; the coming of a sort of durationless duration, of an ‘intensive’ time likely to supplant the extensive time of History, once and for all this time.
Following the atomic disintegration of the space of matter which, with nuclear proliferation, has landed us today in the critical situation we are all familiar with, the phototonic disintegration of the time of light seems to be upon us thanks to great colliders. And this disintegration will shortly entail a considerable cultural and political mutation, whereby depth of time will win out over the old depth of field inherited from the perspective space of the Quattrocento. The term ‘transparency’ won’t then so much cover the appearance of objects made visible in the instant of looking, as appearances instantly transmitted at a distance. Whence the proposed notion of the TRANS-APPEARANCE of ‘real time’ intended to revive the notion of the TRANSPARENCY of ‘real space’, with the live transmission of images of things now compensating for the former appearance of air and water, and even the glass in the lens of our telescopes or ‘photographic’ cameras.
It’s not hard to see that the implosion of real time today more or less completely conditions our exchanges and our various activities, as well as our perception of the world.
This amounts to a veritable TELESCOPIC CRASH and it heralds other interactive catastrophes; an economic crash, certainly, but especially some disaster in social communication, with repeat divorces largely affecting INTERSUBJECTIVITY between people, between individuals, since the more the speed of information increases, the more control tends to grow, the all-pervasiveness and all-seeingness of such control aiming to turn our much-touted CYBERNETICS into a substitute for the human environment, into our natural habitat, our ‘New World’.”
Paul Virilio, The University of Disaster, trans. Julie Rose (Cambridge: Polity, 2010), 55-6.