Auschwitz as Philosophical Device: An Adornian Heritage in Flusser’s Thought?
This essay traces the use of “Auschwitz” as a philosophical device in Vilém Flusser’s thought, from History of the Devil and The Last Judgement, to Posthistory and his later media theory. Throughout Flusser’s oeuvre, the Nazi regime and the brutality of the concentration camps (condensed in the figure of Auschwitz) articulates for Flusser the relationship between progress and Western culture. Taking a detour into Adorno’s own theorization of “Auschwitz” – and especially his maxim that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” – the essay investigates how modern thought has interpreted Auschwitz not as a glitch in the fabric of modernity, but as a programmed step in the march of progress toward hell. After meeting Adorno, Flusser’s thought on Auschwitz matured and he developed his theory of modernity considering the event of the Holocaust as something integrated in the “program” of Western civilization. Flusser often applies an almost cybernetic conception of the operation of a computer system to understand the functioning of our present reified societies, Auschwitz being a paradigm of the transformation of institutions into “apparatuses” and the metamorphosis of human beings into “functionaries” by means of an automatically playing program.
The Fourth Meaning of the Image: Flusser’s Invitation to Envision the World
This short essay is composed of excerpts from the doctoral thesis entitled Image as Articulation of Thought. It focuses on a few inputs by Vilém Flusser on the subject of the technical image and the necessity of becoming active participants in the illusory world we are now living in. For this to happen, we must step out of our condition of being functionaries and become (en)visionaries. That is, we must step out of a linear model of thinking into a superficial one, one that is based entirely on images.
Até a terceira e a quarta geração: a experiência do holocausto como fundamento das teorias de Vilém Flusser / Unto the Third and Fourth Generation. The Experience of the Holocaust as the Basis of Vilém Flusser’s Philosophy / Do třetího i čtvrtého pokolení
This essay focuses on the fundamental significance of the Holocaust in Vilém Flusser’s life and thinking. In his still unpublished Até a terceira e a quarta geração (Unto the Third and Fourth Generation) written in the early 1960ies, the problem of Nazism is explicitly thematized and linked to the development of Western society. The abandonment of a religious view of the world in the Renaissance led to the loss of a grounding sense of reality, which was filled up by science (the new religion) and later on by nationalism. These developments eventually led to the First and the Second World War, as well as to Auschwitz and Adolf Eichmann as the ideal representatives of the apparatus and the functionary.