By Paul Virilio

To learn those 5 essays of 1983 is to start to return to phrases with the theoretical cataclysm of the current. In misplaced size, Paul Virilio considers the displacement of the concept that of dimensional house by way of Einsteinian space/time because it is expounded to the obvious limitations of the postmodern urban and modern financial system. Virilio imagines a coming international of interactive, informational networks supplying a prison-house of illusionary transcendence. He images international terrorism (perpetrated via and opposed to technological states) filling up the surreal void of an deserted actual. In a multidisciplinary excavation of latest physics, structure, esthetic concept, and sociology, Virilio strains the dystopic cohesion of the modern Western drawback with lightning prescience and readability.

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The crisis of the physical dimensions of the sensible world in the era of electronic telecommunications derives from the crisis of the intelligible continuum. We approach grains of matter or oflight without distinction, since they are not localizable in the space-time framework. As Louis de Broglie explains, we are participating in a radical inversion: "Neither time nor space, statistical concepts, allow us to describe the properties of elementary entities, of grains. " 1 2 Thus, sp ace and time would be no more than macro­ scopic statistical realities, and the grain, the quantum, would be "that indivisible physical entity, that discontinuous ele­ ment that in the depths of the infinitely small appears to constitute ultimate reality.

This trend - constant since the aufklarung - continued with recent developments in the means of microsc opic investigation, as well as with the research into the ultimate cavities of dense matter (by the video performances of the new electron-sweep microscope that gives, inverse to the electron-transmission microscope, the apparent third dimension of the infinitely small, as well as the possibility of "planes in sequence" from different angles). We are once more confronted with the crisis of whole dimensions, with the notion of the global density of matter.

We find the same problems in the two geodesic experi ments: in the first, problems penetrating the milieu, and in the second, problems transmitting given data. In 1735 , for example, the measuring expeditions for the Quito Meridian encountered a particularly hostile environment, struggling in a land with only the roads left by the Incas, since the first communications route between Manta and Quito would only be built in 1739. The measurers, as they travelled on foot and crossed perilously free-swinging footbridges, were hunted by wild animals and local natives alike.

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