Paul Virilio: Exile and Mutant Migration

At the end of ‘The Original Accident’ by Paul Virilio one can feel the utter despair, an almost total fatalism as he realizes the ‘turbo capitalism of the single market’ that pervades the globe is reaching a wall beyond which nothing will remain, so that a neo-human – a transhumanity leaves the ruinous wastelands of a dying earth for a New Found Land Beyond The Stars:

“…the day comes when the star can no longer bear the disaster of progress, the collateral damage that results, as we have seen throughout this book, from the acceleration not only of the history of humanity, but of all reality. … In fact and for the first time perhaps in such a tangible way, for each and every one of us the perimeter of life is strictly circumscribed by the void. The old fullness of the biosphere has been overtaken, now, by this negative horizon that defines both the world and what is out of this world at once. … It is now all about a transhumanity exiling itself in quest of a vaster earth, the promised Land of a new ‘New World’, one no longer lying westwards across a continent, but over our heads, in the firmament.”

In the end Virilio seeks a sort of mythology of transcendence in the scientific mythos of biogenetic migration and mutation. This was an odd work in his canon, a sort of paen to the ‘accident’ that seems to oppose his enemy, the techno-social progressive world of hyper-accelerating capital which he sees heading toward collapse at the end of history. The difference between his vision and Nick Land’s not that they both agree in the end, but that Virilio sees humanity migrating into a neohuman or transhuman Manifest Destiny seeking a home in the stars, while Land sees the Age of Man at an end while the Age of the Intelligent Machines is only just beginning.

Why do we seek to fill the void of the future with such visions of the end? Seeking to overcome finitude, we seem to be accelerating toward it in ever faster scales of hyperawareness.

  1. Virilio, Paul. The Original Accident. (Polity Press, 2007)

5 thoughts on “Paul Virilio: Exile and Mutant Migration

    • I don’t think he had much faith in it so much as he saw that misguided men would move in that direction… he was satirizing the tendency, so don’t take it too seriously or literal. Virilio was attacking such pretensions while at the same time seeing what would come… and, let’s face it, just do a Google Search on Transhumanism and see how much money is being spent on it… and, remember H.G. Wells Island of Dr. Moreau that whether we succeed or not, we will probably produce monstrous results trying…


      • sure could be more of a gesture towards frankensteinish tendencies than a prediction of actual events/inventions, I just don’t see the conditions for such efforts to be lasting much longer as the supporting infrastructures continue to give way.


      • I keep wondering about that, too. Are we really collapsing or is this just the migration of capital to other forms? Capital reinventing itself at the expense of those like EU and America who spawned it? Could it be that one version of Capitalism is dying while at the same time giving birth to it elsewhere (China? or even the Internet immaterial economies?)? I have a sneaking suspicion that the infrastructures are only migrating into our network society in ways not beneficial to the Bankers or Wall Street, and it is this last gasp of both Industrial and the Old Financial capitalism as monolithic power that is now fracturing and fragmenting under its own weight, but that out of this death of the Giants will come something else…


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