Esa Saarinen

Esa Saarinen

Mark C. Taylor and Esa Saarinen on the ascendance of Speed

The point is not only that politics has sped up but that speed has been politicized. Power is speed and speed is power. In the culture of the simulacrum, the swift shall inherit the earth.

If politics is the art of negotiation, speed is the death of the political. Negotiation takes time and time is precisely what we don’t have. The intelligent machines of today’s techno-military complex reduce the time separating action and reaction to seconds or split seconds. In the instant, negotiation and delberate decision become impossible.

Speed privileges certainty and assertion. When there is never enough time, it is necessary to make your point quickly and concisely. It is not possible to slow down long enough to allow time for uncertainty and questions. But when there is not enough time for uncertainty, certainty becomes destructive – of others and eventually ourselves.

Telecommunications technology speeds everything up to save time. But what are we saving time for? In which bank is it stored? Does it bear any interest? How can it be withdrawn?

Why do we always slow down and speed up rather than slow up and speed down? Perhaps because we believe that speed is transcendent. But isn’t it possible that transcendence is infinitely slow?
Mark C. Taylor and Esa Saarinen in their chapter “Speed” in Imagologies: Media Philosophy, 1994, p. 6-7.