The Information Bomb

Paul Virilio – The Information Bomb, this book is amazing, full of great insight on where we have been and perhaps where we are headed. Instead of discussing some particular theme, here are some of the more interesting ideas from this book which was published 1997.

The Information Bomb


Civilisation or the militarization of science? This is the first question posed in Virilio’s information bomb.

Science has developed solely with a view to the pursuit of limit-performances.

Modern science has become progressively become techno-science.

Fatal confusion between operation instruments and exploratory research.


The decline of the analogue mental process, in favour of instrumental digital procedures, which are capable, we are told of boosting knowledge.

Operational Reality of a technological instrument.


Resolutory truth of scientific thought.

Fused without notice.


Talking about the convergence / emergence of extreme science – analogous with extreme sports.


Only a few centuries ago the science of appearance of a relative truth, techno-science is once again become a science of the disappeared of the same truth with the coming of a knowledge which is not so encyclopaedic as cybernetic, a knowledge which denies all objective reality.

The after largely contributing to the speeding up of the world by various means for the representation of the world, with optics, electro-optics and even recent establishments of the space of virtual reality, contemporary science are engaging, a contrario in eclipsing of real in the aesthetics of scientific disappearance.

The science of verisimilitude of the plausible, still attached. (the appearance of the real).

Discovery of relative truth or a science of implausibility. – committed to heightened virtual reality.

comm. Distance . time lags,

The emergence of a META geography.

In part from the production of telecontinents.


Pentagon geostrategic view of turning the globe inside out like a glove. For American military leaders, the global is the interior of finite world whose very finitude poses many logistical problems. And he local is exterior, the periphery if not indeed the outer suburbs of the world.

Globitarian transformation – transformation which extraverts localness, all localness. … now does not deport persons. But deports their living space, the space where they subsist economically.

Not merely of national but also social identity.

For the first time bill Clinton declared ‘there is no longer any distinction between domestic and foreign policy’ .

The real city was situated in a precise place which gives its name to the politics of nations, is giving way to virtual city that de-territorialised meta-city which is hence the site of that metro politics, the totalitarian or rather globaritarian character of which will be plain for all to see’


Centre is everywhere and whose circumference nowhere – pascal.


Time and space dilation.

More interval are being abolished the more the image of space dilates.

The coming of the live, of direct transmission bought about by turning the limit-speed of waves to effect, transforms the old tele-vision into a planetary grand-scale optics.

With CNN and its various offshoots, domestic television has given way to tele-surveilance.

The sudden focusing –a security orientated phenomenon of the media monitoring of the life of nations – heralds the dawn of a particular form of the day, which totally escapes the diurnal-nocturnal alternation that previous structured history.


 False day – artificial time, sun.

Audio visual contiguity progressively taking over from the territorial contiguity of nations which has now decline in importance, the political frontier were themselves to shift from the real space of geopolitics to the real time of the chorno-politics of the transmission of images and sounds.

Two complimentary aspects of globalism:

Extreme reduction of distances which ensures from the temporal compression of transport and transmissions;

On the other

The current general spread of tele-surveilannce, delivering a world that is constantly tele-present.

p. 14

Substitute horizons. – Artificial horizons.


Reality of immediate appearances > virtual reality media trans-appearances

Impression of reality.


This new reality effect

Technologies of synthetic vision;


Here there computer is no longer simple a devise for consulting information sources but an automation vision machine operating within the space of an entirely virtual geographical reality.

Universal voyeurism.


As a century of unbound curiosity, covetous looking and the deregulation of the gaze, the 20th century has not been the century of the image, as is often claimed but of optics – and in particular of the optical illusion

Since pre-1914 , the imperative of propaganda and subsequently during the long period of the cold war and nuclear deterrence, security and intelligence needs have gradually drawn us into an intolerable situation in which industrial optics have run wildly out of control.

‘panoply of orbital satellites’

‘the cinema involves putting the eye into a military uniform’ Kafka (Gustav, Janouch, conversations with kafka; trans goronmy ree, andre deutsch , London, 1968.


what are we to say then , of this dictatorship exerted more than half a century ago by optical hardware which has become omniscient and omnipresent and which , like any totalitarian regime, encourages us to forget we are individual beings?

p.37 – 38

The Gutenberg galaxy mass-produced populations of deaf-mutes. … industrial typography by spreading the habit of solitary – and hence silent – reading, was to gradually deprive the people of that use of speech and hearing which had previously been involved in the (public, polyphonic) reading aloud made necessary by the relative scarcity of manuscripts.

Printing forces a degree of impoverishment upon language, which not only lost its social relief (primorial eloquence) but also its spatial relief (it emphases, is prosody).

If we go drawing up a list of the sensory deprivations we owe to the technological and industrial wastage of our perceptual capacities, we can cite, according to preference, the consenting victims of electricity, those of the photographic snapshot and those of the optical illusion of cinema – these various items of representational equipment which have swelled the ranks of the partially sighted and of those whom Walter Benjamin dubbed the image illiterates.

Jean Rostand reckoned that radio ‘had not perhaps made us more foolish, but that it had made foolishness noisier’


without event suspecting it, we have become the heirs and descendants of some fearsome antecedents, the prisoners of hereditary defects transmitted now not through the genes, sperm or blood, but through an unutterable technical contamination.

 Dogmatism of the totalitarian techno-cult.


Since the ‘globalisation of the single market’ demands overexposure of every activity; it requires the simultaneous creation of competition between companies, societies and even consumers themselves, which now mean individual , not simple certain categories of ‘target populations’.

Hense the sudden intimely emergency of a universal comparative advertising which has relatively little to do with publicizing a brand or consumer product of some kind, since the aim is now , through the commerce of the visible, to inaugurate a genuine visible market.

After the direct lighting of cities by the magic of electricity in the twentieth century, the companies created by these mergers are pioneering and indirect lighting of the world for the twenty-first century.

A new-optics, capable of helping a panoptical vision to appear, a vision which is indispensable if the ‘market of the visible’ is the be established.


After the first bomb, the atom bomb, which was capable of using the energy of radioactivity to smash matter, the spectre of a second bomb is looming at the end of this millennium. This is the information bomb, capable of using interactivity of information to wreak the peace between nations.


Progress towards optical snooping

The globalization of the gaze of a single eye


The smaller the world becomes as a result of the relativistic effect of telecommunication, the more violently situations are concertinaed, with the risk of an economic and social crash that would merely be the extension of the visual crash of this market of the visible in which the virtual bubble of the interconnected financial markets is never any other than the inevitable consequence of that visual bubble of a politics which has become both panoptical and cybernetic.


 From the first television link-up.

The world made the sudden transition from the hear-it-now to the overexposure of ‘see-it-now’. From now on whether we like it or not, any interpersonal relationship, any entry into communication, any cognitive procedure involves us unconsciously in that unsanctioned violence of an ‘optical shock’ which has become global.


The great audio-visual dilemma, the conflict between the soft (the world) and the hard( the image).

politics – politicians – the language – media use

… a new state of consciousness which the instantaneous violence of universal communication at every second implies.


Tthe talk of gathering together and drawing closer together now gives way to a language which banished , rejects ,excludes an divides.

Such a backlash and such repercussions are contained by definition within the technologies of acceleration. And terrorism and advertising have long built their doctrine on such media violence.


conjuror – heaven gate – illusion –belief in the nonexistent


The general tendencies of the market and of mass production were to be gravely affected by this and we were to pass inexplicable from the industrial to the post-industrial age, from the real to the virtual, this fulfilling hopes of a resolutely immature society.

To prefer the illusions of networks drawing on the absolute speed of electronic impulses, which give, or claim to give instantaneously what time accords only gradually.

It means making the future no long er appear to exist by having it happen now .


The techno-scopic illusion, is a techno-system of strategic communications which brings with it a the systemic risk of a chain reaction of damage as soon as globalisation has become effective.

The information bomb which has just exploded will very soon require the establishment of a new type of deterrence – in this case a societal one, with automated circuit breakers put in place capable of avoiding the over-heating, if not indeed the fission of the social core of nations

The revolution of real information is also a revolution in virtual disinformation and hence in history as currently being written.

Radioactivity of the elements matter, interactivity of the constituents of information – the harm done by irradiation is discreet and multifarious, at time amounting to general contamination.

The actor and tele-actors of the cybernetic telecommunications revolution, acting and interacting in real time set a technical pace or tempo which now lords it over the properly historical importance of the local time of societies and countries. .

This works exclusively to the advantage of a world time which no longer belongs so much to the history of nationals as to the abstraction of a universal chrono-politics for which no political representative is truly responsible, except for in certain military general staffs in the case of cyberwar being declared.

 Information Bomb is available online and in hardcopy.