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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.

Genocide (PDF 367.93 KB)

Flusser’s Sonic Modernity

This chapter addresses Flusser’s often neglected writings on music and sound as they relate to his understanding of modernity. Taking two lectures ‘On Music’ and ‘On Modern Music’ given in Sao Paolo in 1965 as its departure point, Flusser’s conceptualization of a sonic modernity is examined within his ‘communicological’ theory. Contrary to a McLuhanesque media theory of the auditive, I argue Flusser’s theorization is distinct due to his characteristic ‘groundlessness’ and seeks to destabilize, rather than restabilize, a liberal Western humanist modernism.

Sonic Modernity (PDF 348.92 KB)

Das ’Ende der Politik’ in der Kulturphilosophie Vilém Flussers

In my contribution I try to work out the political implications of Flusserian thought. I show first that the beginning of post-history, which Flusser himself does not date precisely, should be determined from a political point of view - Auschwitz. For Flusser, as well as for the political philosopher Hannah Arendt, Auschwitz presented a breach with the Western tradition. But, opposed to Arendt, Flusser states that the breach of tradition in a sense continues, and the renewal of the political space, considered possible by Arendt, becomes increasingly impossible with the impact of the technical pictures. The forecast of the „death of the politics‟ is explained by Flusser with the fact that a specific political difference, namely that of public and private space, has become fragile because of the communication revolution. To preserve the freedom and dignity of the human being in post-history, the lost balance of dialogue and discourse, according to Flusser, has to be restored and an „installation of the apparatus-totalitarianism‟ has to be prevented. Finally, I close with a short reflection about how Flusser‟s theory of the telematic society can be understood as an answer to the menace of the political in modern society, as it was assumed by Arendt in Vita activa.

Ende der Politik (PDF 256.21 KB)

Verwurzelung und Bodenlosigkeit – Strukturelle Fremdheit bei Vilém Flusser

The paper delivers a reading of Flusser’s Concept ‘Bodenlosigkeit’ (groundlessness) with respect to the Husserlian concept of ‘Lebenswelt’ (life-world). By examining the connection between ‘Bodenlosigkeit’ with its complementary term ‘Verwurzelung’ (rootage), ‘Bodenlosigkeit’ is illustrated as Flusser’s idea for what current phenomenological approaches call ‘structural foreignness.’ ‘Structural foreignness’ functions as an important premise for Flusser’s subsequent philosophy of dialogue and communication.