Monday, August 24, 2015

The war on accidents

Virilio defined accidents as the unavoidable side-inventions of new technologies. A commonly used example is the train accident - you cannot invent and build a train system without at the same time building the possibility of trains derailing. The mere act of moving trains on rails necessitates the possibility of them going off them. You can't have one without the other, as Sinatra sang it.

Then, in September 2001, someone weaponized the accident. Rather than using a conventional weapon, such as a bomb or a missile, they used the inherent and unavoidable potential for accidents built into airplanes. (That which goes up and so on.)

Ever since, the fear of accidents have been ever present. Of course, it has not been packaged as a fear of accidents, as that would be a hard sell. Rather, it went (and still goes) by the fancier name War on Terrorism. The difference between terrorism and accidents in this case being merely propagandistic - it is hard to conceive that the ever more draconian measures put in place are meant to stop bombs, missiles and other traditional tools of the trade. The aim is not to stop terrorism - it is to prevent accidents.

Thing is, though. Accidents are inherent to everything. As in, everything. The only way to prevent them is - as Aristotle put it - do nothing. Even then, nothing is guaranteed. There is no shortage of accidents of the human body, and even being in a position to read these words puts you at risk of the unforeseen (or worse, foreseen) accident.

One day, you too will die.

Question is how to live until then. Embodying the war on accidents is an option. It can be chosen as a way of life. It doesn't work, but nevertheless.

Always the less, as it were. -

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