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Vilém Flusser et Abraham Moles: le fond et la forme d’une « affinité combative »

The central role that Abraham Moles played in Vilém Flusser's thought during the first years after his return to Europe in 1972 is indisputable. Certain personal coincidences are striking: they were born in the same year 1920, and they died six months apart (respectively in November 1991 and in May 1992). From a theoretical point of view, the affinities between the two friends are also remarkable: if the interest in the phenomenon of cybernetics connected them, it is the aesthetics of communication open to phenomenology that allowed them a fruitful exchange.
But there is a third element, more formal and less known: their paradoxical Jewishness. The reference to the Golem myth, which appears as the background of their cybernetic thoughts, seems to refer to the Judaic substratum that animated their method of study involving heated discussions.
Thus, after some biographical data, these three elements provide the general outline of the article: the cybernetic approach, the phenomenological method, and the Talmudic practice. The goal is to show how the relationship between Vilém Flusser and Abraham Moles shows that, beyond intellectual gestures, in which they sought, in a perpetual effort, to regroup (the law of “elective affinities”), real “combative affinities” remain, resisting the entropy of the world and eternal oblivion.

Moles (PDF 402.8 KB)

Golem, Roboter und andere Gebilde. Zu Vilém Flussers Apparatbegriff

This essay attempts a systematic genealogic reconstruction of Flusser’s concept of apparatus from Portuguese texts of the early 1960ies up to the Bochumer Vorlesungen held in the summer of 1991 shortly before Flusser’s death. As with many other instances from Flusser’s work the concept of apparatus is decidedly interdisciplinary in nature, positioning itself on the border of philosophy, sociology, history, literature, the arts, cybernetics and technology. This fundamental ambivalence becomes particularly visible in the use of the German word ‘Apparat’ and its many derivatives, as for instance ‘Verwaltungsapparat’, ‘Fotoapparat’ or ‘Messapparat’, subsuming under the same heading the photographic camera, Kafka’s impenetrable bureaucratic apparatus and the perfectly operating apparatus of Auschwitz. Over the course of many years Flusser combined different textual sources to fashion his view of the apparatus. Many of them stem directly from the history Prague. Apart from Kafka’s novels, Karel Čapeks R.U.R, as well the figure of the Golem as it appears in the legend of Rabbi Löw, would also have to be mentioned. Flusser’s concept of the apparatus is, furthermore, connected to the philosophy of Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger and Giorgio Agamben.

Golem (PDF 389.23 KB)