The reading ‘Theoretical Frameworks’ (Murphie et al, 2003) discusses work by the French scholar Paul Virilio in regards to technological determinism and cultural materialism. What interested me particularly about Virilio’s work was the idea of an accident museum.
Virilio talks about the idea that an accident should not be dismissed by citizens of any particular society as they often have been. Instead these incidents should be immortalised in an accident museum.
This concept of immortalising an accident due to the importance that it can play within any one society is, to me, reminiscent of the popular notion that one is supposed to learn from their mistakes. However, I believe Virilio sees contemporary society not as one that will improve with time as mistakes and accidents are taken as lessons of self-improvement (on both a micro and macro scale) but as one that will repeat history’s mistakes. This concept of continually repeating accidents and mistakes that were made in the past can be clearly seen in nearly all aspects of society – for example, war and genocide. There have been countless wars fought and races persecuted for their own beliefs, colour etc and while modern day citizens will look back at these events and recognise the wrong that was committed, it will, without a doubt, be committed in the future once again.
The term ‘accident’ in itself is a word that implies that noone is to blame for the mistake that had been committed. While the idea that an accident should be immortalised due to the important role that they play within our society is a very valid idea, I wonder whether the actual term should be changed to better represent the nature of the deed committed. Virilio refers to missile attacks as an accident. However, there is clearly someone to blame – be it a government or a rebel group. While the notion of an accident museum may be a somewhat ghastly concept, perhaps if people were forced to see the physical, mental or emotional repercussions of their actions, society would grow into a more cohesive unit.
Murphie, Andrew and Potts, John (2003) ‘Theoretical Frameworks’ in Culture and Technology London: Palgrave Macmillan: 11-38