Università degli Studi di Roma - La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
Francesco Restuccia got his PhD in Philosophy at La Sapienza – Università di Roma with a thesis about Vilém Flusser as a critic of idolatry in the age of new media. His main research interest concerns aesthetics as a common ground between religion and the theory of media and technology. He published articles about Flusser, Benjamin, Baudrillard, Wiener, as well as about the genealogy of Christian images.
Articles of Francesco Restuccia
Flusser Against Idolatry
The article, based on the author’s doctoral thesis “Vilém Flusser: a critic of idolatry in the age of new media”, analyses the concept of idolatry as a thread connecting Flusser’s early writings on religion with the later ones on communication. Studying his sources and the main occurrences of the term “idolatry” in his writings can help us understand Flusser’s original conception. The first uses of the concept (1963-1967) are clearly embedded in his Jewish education and appear mostly in the context of his essays on hierophany and secularization, especially the ones where Flusser posthumously argues with his mentor Vicente Ferreira da Silva. From 1978, “idolatry” appears in a new context, namely his essays on media theory and communication, in particular where image and text are confronted. By connecting these two phases we are able to read his communication theory in the light of his studies on religion, understanding the key role of the concepts of idolatry, magic and myth in his later texts.
The concept of idolatry allows Flusser to reflect on images beyond an aesthetic approach. Images are not only objects of contemplation: they act on us, modifying the way we look at the world and therefore our beliefs and our behavior. However, his theory is not apocalyptic: idolatry does not emerge automatically through contact with images, but it is caused by a reversal of imagination. Training our technical imagination will help us overcome the danger of a new idolatry.
Reading Flusser is not easy. One can easily get lost in his nomadic thought. Flusser’s writing must be understood as a game, with its own rules: the reader needs to play with those rules, by following or transgressing them. In this short essay, an excerpt from my doctoral dissertation, I try to detect some of Flusser’s habits as a writer that any reader should take into account. His anti-academicism, his plurilingualism, and his interdisciplinary approach demand extra work but can also be very fruitful.
Della banalità del male (traduzione di Francesco Emilio Restuccia)
In this article, published in 1969, Flusser rethinks the concept of the banality of evil, which Hannah Arendt developed in her book Eichman in Jerusalem, in the chapter “A Report on the Banality of Evil” (1963). Unlike Arendt, Flusser is more interested in the trivial evil: the one produced by those who need to live with an apparatus (e.g. a factory or a school), even if they are responsible and well-educated. And given that nowadays, we increasingly cannot live without the apparatus, we should rather try to understand how we can be free with them.