“To invent the sailing ship or steamer is to invent the shipwreck. To invent the train is to invent the rail accident of derailment. To invent the family automobile is to produce the pile-up on the highway. To get what is heavier than air to take off in the form of an aeroplane or dirigible is to incent the crash, the air disaster.” -Paul Virilio, The Original Accident.
To invent the cross, that is the technology of political execution, is to invent the Christ event. The accident is a curious event. It is an unexpected emergence: it is a messy differend. What remains after the political execution? A spirit that one cannot kill. Aesthetically, we might call this differend a glitch.
The glitch is the accidental appearance of unexpected artifacts. The glitch in an image manifests as discolored pixels and a distorted image. The glitch in audio may manifest as static. Though, what is the glitch of oppression or of an execution? What artifacts might emerge? What ghosts may linger? The American folk song Joe Hill says, “What they can never kill went on to organize.” There’s a residue that remains from oppression. Something that cannot be accounted for, a remainder, an accident or a glitch.
Following the Christian trajectory, this glitch can be located in Christ. The cross is a peculiar method of execution, because like Christ, it is the interface of horizontal and vertical vectors. The intersection of the wooden planks is also the intersection of divinity and humanity. Crucifixion is the event and out of this event emerges the glitch. Something goes wrong in the crucifixion of Jesus.
The power of the Roman occupying force is not quite hegemonic enough. Christ’s death yields the peculiar artifact of everlasting life. It’s not my intention to enforce any theology authoritatively, but simply to state that from the perspective of Rome, something went wrong in Christ’s death. After the crucifixion Christ does not die.
Whether Christ bodily resurrects or it’s simply the Hegelian Aufhebung isn’t really the point. Regardless of what metaphysical scheme is at play, what is important is the accident in the execution of Christ. The glitch of Christ persists long after the execution of the man.
Then, what can be gleaned from the glitch-Christ? Aesthetically and practically, the glitch is a transgressive: a celebration of the artifacts that emerge from the accident. Can we repeat the glitch-Christ? Is there a practice that yields the manifestation of these artifacts? The nature of the accident makes drawing correlations difficult. One cannot force an accident and cannot force the glitch.
The glitch is an accident, one can attempt to undertake a set of practices, but the appearance of the glitch is uncertain and precarious. However, this doesn’t mean there are no normative methods. One can easily glitch the image or audio file. The accident is in what artifacts emerge out of the event. If it is agreeable that Christ is this sort of glitch event then the Christian practice must be tracing Christ’s methods, though it’s not clear what will emerge.