Cyberwar, God And Television - Interview with Paul Virilio (1994)
The year was 1993. Somewhere in a remote cubicle in Illinois, a couple of kids named Eric Bina and Marc Andreessen had grown tired of tunneling through gopher holes and fiddling with ASCII/BIN file transfer protocol modes. So they came up with something better called Mosaic and thereby “invented the internet” in the same way that Columbus “discovered” North America. Like the so-called new world, the internet had long been in existence, but soon it would become accessible to literally everyone.
The internet evolutionary steps of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s had emerged in response to the previous 30 years work; nevertheless, a few of the more visible – and in some ways, quite superficial – steps spawned heady thinking of brave new worlds and fired the imaginations of virtual Ponce de Leons in search of this “newly discovered” immortal cyberspace. In droves, the lemmings signed up for America’s Orgy Line (AOL), as cybersex (such an elegant term, for what amounts to the rather pitiful image of isolated monkeys engaging in erotic text conversations combined with synchronized masturbation) made masses of lonely, increasingly fast-food obese and fast-porn horny Americans “feel young again.” In many respects, the internet WAS the newest fountain of youth, and it delivered every bit as much youth as de Leon’s.
Still, enthralled and enraptured by the perpetual bliss of this brave new cyber world, it would take literally a decade for many to glimpse the horizon beyond their bright afterglow and discover “THE” internet, vast and limitless, that had actually already existed for 40 years.
Philosophers and cultural theorists were not to be left behind in the old world; not for a second. In 1994 thinkers like Paul Virilio had already turned a vastly more aesthetic lens to gaze upon this new Promised Land, “All the qualities of the body are transferred to the machine. We haven’t adjusted yet, we are forgetting our body, we are losing it. This is an accident of the body, a de-corporation. The body is torn and disintegrated.” This, in response to nothing more than the world first two-dimensional hypertext link-following engine.
With artistic optimism marked by deftly placed and distinctly somber philosophical brush strokes, Virilio paints an impressively prescient canvas; particularly when one considers that this was written over a decade ago. <div align="right">