Genocide and a Tapeworm. Flusser’s Post-Catastrophic Fabulism
This article examines Flusser’s use of fables in What If? and Vampyroteuthis Infernalis as a response to the groundlessness of catastrophic events such as the Holocaust. It begins with Flusser’s seemingly grotesque joke about mass death in What If? as an opening to a discussion of Flusser’s distinctive combination of brutal realism and playful creativity. By comparing Flusser’s work with other scholars responding to the horrors of the twentieth century, such as Benjamin, Adorno, and Arendt, this article argues that Flusser’s fabulist writing provides a form of writing and thinking that allows horror to viscerally impact its reader without offering a false sense of mastery or certainty. Drawing insight from On Doubt and Groundless, this article situates fables within Flusser’s broader oeuvre. It distinguishes fables from the mythological approaches found in other Brazilian writings grappling with the limits of comprehension, such as Lévi-Strauss and Viveiros de Castro’s (post)structuralist anthropologies and Ferreira da Silva’s philosophy of mythology. Through these distinctions, Flusser’s fabulist writings are portrayed as a unique endeavour to confront groundlessness with humility, seriousness, and creativity.