Alphabe Thursday … V is for Paul Virilio and speed
As I come nearly to the end of my walking alphabet; I look at the way railway trains and particularly the way that speed took away pleasure of travel. Even in the 19th century when trains were not yet high speed, travelers were saying that they seemed to ‘transcend time and space and become disembodied.’ Writers were saying such things as ‘ the train was experienced as a projectile, travelling as if being shot through the landscape. Losing control of one’s senses; no longer a traveler, he became a parcel.’
Speed, they suggested didn’t make travel more interesting ; people now have the need to read, sleep, to knit or complain of boredom. The use of cars and planes has increased this transformation and we watch movies or listen to music on headphones to relieve the monotony. Paul Virilio, the French cultural theorist and urbanist said that ‘the loss of the thrills of the old journey is now compensated by the showing of an [action] film on the screen over head’.