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Vilém Flusser

Vilém Flusser: An Introduction

Anke Finger
Rainer Guldin
Gustavo Bernardo
Volume: 34
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Vilém Flusser
    Book Description:

    A thorough introduction to Vilém Flusser’s thought, this book reveals his engagement with a wide array of disciplines, from posthuman philosophy, media studies, and history to migrant studies, art, and anthropology. This volume shows how Flusser’s media theory works are just one part of a greater mosaic of writings that bring to the fore cultural and cognitive changes in the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7693-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Anke Finger
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction: Vilém Flusser’s Atlases
    (pp. xv-xxx)

    In a short text titled “My Atlas,” Vilém Flusser recounts conversations with a fictitious grandfather, a writer, concerning this grandfather’s treasured atlases: “The first atlas served him to localize an event he wanted to describe. The second served to acquire an overview of all the events. In that sense, and thanks to these two atlases, he could simultaneously dive into the world and surface again.” But a crisis of orientation ensued, creating a plethora of atlases: they began to explode into different directions at the end of the twentieth century. The resulting and overwhelming variety undermined the atlases’ very purpose...

  6. 1 Migration, Nomadism, Networks: A Biography
    (pp. 1-26)

    In a 1991 interview with Patrick Tschudin in Robion, France, Vilém Flusser definedbiographynot as the chronology of a life but as a list of networks: “A biography cannot be about some sort of ‘I.’ And it seems to me that anyone who tries to describe his own life history has never lived. Rather, I think that a biography consists of the listing of networks through which a current of experiences was run” (FM, 89). Although a list of networks does not necessarily exclude the notion of chronology, one network followed by another, Flusser rejected the belief that throughout...

  7. 2 On Doubt: The Web of Language
    (pp. 27-44)

    On September 22, 1966, Flusser published a newspaper article inO Estado de São Paulowith a rather unusual title: “?” This question mark, one could argue, functions both as an inter-punctuation and as an existential sign; it is as such nothing less than a sign of our times: the question mark has perhaps taken on greater significance than the cross, than hammer and sickle, than the torch of the Statue of Liberty, because it points to the atmosphere that encloses us. It is an atmosphere of suspicion, of exploration, and of doubt.

    Vilém Flusser ranks among a few philosophers...

  8. 3 Translation and Multilingual Writing
    (pp. 45-64)

    Translation is in many respects of major importance in Flusser’s life and work: it is at the same time a philosophical concept, a critical tool and creative principle, an art and craft of writing, and a metaphor for a nomadic existence between cultures and continents. Translation serves a specific way of thinking, writing, and living. Flusser wrote most of his texts in two or more of his four writing languages—Portuguese, German, English, and French—continuously translating and retranslating himself. Furthermore, his life, enacted between two continents, can be interpreted as an existence “in translation,” in Salman Rushdie’s understanding, when...

  9. 4 Cultural Studies and Phenomenology
    (pp. 65-82)

    Vilém Flusser’s work has been squeezed into a number of disciplines and areas, most of which he would have ogled with some suspicion, rejected outright, or accepted only reluctantly as a home for his ideas and work. Most likely, he would have accepted the label “philosophy” for his writings, albeit with reservations: “Mine was a life without religion and in search of religion, and is this not, after all, a definition of philosophy? . . . I am a failure, because I live philosophy. Which is to say that philosophy is my life.”¹ Yet numerous philosophers might tend to object...

  10. 5 Communication and Media Theory
    (pp. 83-108)

    In the first chapter ofKommunikologie, written in the early 1970s and bearing the title “What Is Communication?,” Flusser sketches the most salient aspects of his communication theory. He considers human communication from an existential point of view, the question being, why do we communicate at all? We communicate not so much to exchange information between a sender and a receiver linked by a channel as to create with others a reason for living. Communication is an artificial, intentional, dialogic, collective act of freedom, aiming at creating codes that help us forget our inevitable death and the fundamental senselessness of...

  11. 6 Science as Fiction, Fiction as Science
    (pp. 109-130)

    The wordfictioncontains largely positive connotations when it appears in a literary or artistic context. The same word, however, continues to conjure up rather negative associations when it is understood as the antithesis of reality. Regardless, these two perspectives mix and blur. During the eighteenth and especially the nineteenth centuries, consuming fictional works was considered a problem, as a world of dangerous illusions could capture the reader. The wordfictionmay also be used in scientific contexts. Scientific experiments fail to access certain experiences and areas of reality, either directly or at any time. Such phenomena may only be...

  12. 7 On Creativity: Blue Dogs with Red Spots and Dialogic Imagination
    (pp. 131-144)

    In one of his pivotal essays, “Exile and Creativity,” Flusser proposes to view “exile as a challenge to creativity”:

    Here is the hypothesis I propose. The expellee has been torn out of his accustomed surroundings, or has torn himself out of them. Custom and habit are a blanket that covers over reality as it exists. In our accustomed surroundings we only notice change, not what remains constant. Only change conveys information to a person who inhabits a dwelling; the permanent fixtures of his life are redundant. But in exile everything is unusual. Exile is an ocean of chaotic information.


  13. Notes
    (pp. 145-154)
  14. Bibliography of Vilém Flusser’s Major Texts
    (pp. 155-158)
  15. Index
    (pp. 159-177)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 178-181)