"The lack of collective resentment over dromospheric pollution stems
from our forgetting the essence of the path, the journey."
—Paul Virilio, Open Sky, 1997, p. 23

Remembering a Journey

Summer 2012, Kairos

In Open Sky, Paul Virilio (1997) argued that technologies and communication tools—such as the Internet, teleconferencing, and high-speed trains like the TGV—are accelerating at increasing speeds, collapsing both time and space. Virilio advocated for the critical study of speed (dromology) and its effects (dromospheric pollution). He contended that what he termed dromospheric pollution led to a "civilization of forgetting" (p. 25). In other words, the effects of accelerating technologies constructed a society that was so telepresent, so engaged in the live coverage of the current moment, that it had "no future and no past" (p. 25). Furthermore, this dromospheric pollution resulted in the "loss of the traveller’s tale" and loss of "the possibility of some kind of interpretation" (p. 33). For Virilio, the acceleration of technologies collapsed the time and the space one might have devoted to documenting a journey and to the reflection and interpretation of that journey. Accelerating technologies such as the Internet, according to Virilio, atrophied “the journey to the point where it becomes needless” (p. 34).

In this webtext, I attempt to capture "the essence of the path," calling attention to my personal and academic journey to find place. This work locates the evolution of my ideas about a composition assignment (multi-genre research) I have taught, and it examines how my experiences across space and time, as well as the places I inhabited, impacted my teaching of the assignment. Ultimately, through the construction of this work, I intend to complicate Virilio’s claim that accelerating technologies such as the Web necessarily lead to a dromospheric pollution that renders the journey needless. Quite the contrary, using the technology of the Web, I intend to decelerate, to give my academic journey a past, and to construct a (virtual) path for my traveler’s tale.

The present work might be read as a narrative, a reflection, or a collection of documents. It narrates the journey I have taken personally and professionally over the past seven years. It reflects on the evolution of my thinking about visuals, technology, space, and place as a teacher and researcher. And it collects and displays, perhaps like a traveler’s scrapbook, the material manifestations of this journey: seminar papers, teacher reflections, assignment sheets, among other documents. Making time and virtual space to document and reflect on these experiences is an attempt to disrupt the kinds of dromospheric pollution that crowd our busy minds and lives.