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Translating Multilingual Life

This essay reexamines the cultural implications of the act of translation through three quotations from Portuguese into English from Vilém Flusser’s 1992 philosophical autobiography Bodenlos. In retranslating this multilingual life, this act once again displaces preconceived notions not only of philosophical “groundedness,” as Flusser has called it, but also of the very possibility of cultural centrality, to say nothing of authenticity. Moreover, through the continued recirculation of such textual fragments beyond the strictly perceived boundaries of ‘the language in which they were written,’ such transcultural acts may well provoke yet another series of divergent interpretations, especially when read against the backdrop of a New Coast: a geographical zone mapped out by way of a new set of interconnected cultural experiences and markings of multilingual life.

Multilingual Life (PDF 128.56 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.

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