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Flusser’s Vampyroteuthis Infernalis: Homo Sapiens’ Posthuman Future?

Hsu’s contribution focuses on Flusser’s mock treatise and report on reputedly one of the most elusive animals in the ocean, the vampire squid. Vampyroteuthis Infernalis is interpreted as a literary text, specifically regarding the narration’s polyphony – ironic, satirical, elegiac, awe-struck; the vampire squid in this narrative is cast in the role of a gothic monster that glides, darts, slips into darkened recesses and away from the hunter-marine biologist, naturalist, or the philosopher demanding to know what it knows. In Flusser’s ironic telling, the creature possesses many fascinating qualities, and, like Humboldt, we want to capture and study this alien being. Yet, the narrator evinces both desire and aversion towards this creature that is so strange as to be unassimilable in our Imaginary, except as a monster. Flusser’s text turns on its head the consumptive and assimilative impulses undergirding all colonial adventures. Vampyroteuthis Infernalis, like the vampire squid, evades conventional taxonomy; arguably, Flusser’s text is a landmark in the emerging field of animal studies. Next, Hsu enlists the help of Martin Buber and Donna Haraway in examining Flusser’s ontological questions brought forth by the narrator’s confrontation with the irredeemable squid/other. The presentation concludes with a (mock) conversation among Buber, Haraway, and a vampire squid.

Vampyroteuthis (PDF 239.97 KB)