That we live in a time of unprecedented and ever-increasing change is both a shibboleth of our age and the more-or-less explicit justification for all manner of “strategic” actions. The seldom, if ever, questioned assumption is that our now is more ephemeral, more evanescent, than any that preceded it. In this essay, we subject this assumption to some critical scrutiny, utilizing a range of empirical detail. In the face of this assay we find the assumption to be considerably wanting. We suggest that what we are actually witnessing is mere acceleration, which we distinguish as intensification along a preexisting trajectory, parading as more substantive and radical movement away from a preexisting trajectory. Deploying Deleuze's (2004) terms we are, we suggest, in thrall to representation of the same at the expense of repetition of difference. Our consumption by acceleration, we argue, both occludes the lack of substantive change actually occurring while simultaneously delimiting possibilities of thinking of and enacting the truly radical. We also consider how this setup is maintained, thus attempting to shed some light on why we are seemingly running to stand still. As the Red Queen said, “it's necessary to run faster even to stay in the one place.”
Research Article|March 01 2007
Running to Stand Still: Late Modernity's Acceleration Fixation
Cultural Politics (2007) 3 (1): 95-122.