An Improbable Science Fiction
The essay explores Flusser’s thoughts on both the literary genre of science fiction, as understood by Suvin and Jameson, and the employment of fiction in science, an idea that can be traced back to Vaihinger’s scientific fictions. Texts such as The History of the Devil, “O bicho de sete cabeças” [The seven-headed beast], and “Science Fiction” are analyzed and compared, attentive to the philosophic and scientific insights informing them. Flusser believed most science fiction is banal (The History of the Devil) and, following information theory, proposed the genre should turn towards the possible, yet unlikely. He believed science fiction could be more than a mere empty diversion, a “turning aside from the original course”, and could actually become a window for us to see our future (“O bicho de sete cabeças”). In “Science Fiction”, he frames his topic more as a gray zone between science and imagination than as a literary genre. Fiction as epistemology. In this understanding of the term, the philosopher also links science fiction with the question of technical images, for he believes we are more likely to find it in synthetic images and computer algorithms than in texts. The present essay goes on to throw some light on the relationship between science fiction and real science, as well as between science fiction and the future. The impossibility of predicting the future is identified as a question pertinent to both science fiction and philosophy of science, and is explored through works of Hume, Meillassoux, Taleb, Bergson, and Berardi.
Rhapsody in Blue. Vilém Flusser und der Vampyroteuthis Infernalis
The depths of the sea, their obscure inhabitants and their mysteries have always been a rich source of myths and metaphors for authors and philosophers. Fables about giant squ ids and monstrous octopuses run through the history of literature and culture. The vampire squid is only a small phylogenetic relic, but it provides a useful model for Flusser's hybrid philosophical fiction Vampyroteuthis Infernalis. Flusser slips metaphor ically into the creature’s gelatinous skin in order to speculate on the paradigms of postmodern life, measuring the abyss from the inside and producing a very peculiar, experimental form of thinking and writing. In the present era of virtual reality and co mputer simulations, we experience fiction as the only reality. According to Vaihinger's definition, fiction is a useful construct that is precisely not real, but enables human beings to create and manipulate their environments. His philosophy of “ as if ” is perhaps the fullest expression of fictionalism and shows its ambivalent potential.