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Flusser Studies 11 - May 2011

Introduction (PDF 191.82 KB)


Ein luso-brasilianischer Gang durch die „Reisebibliothek“ von Vilém Flusser

Looking at the library of Vilém Flusser, which is preserved in the Flusser-Archive in Berlin, we notice not only the wide interest of Flusser’s in all possible fields of knowledge but also the different stations in his nomadic life. The library is simultaneously an image of his intellectual journey and, especially considering his Brazilian period, a representation of Flusser’s friendships. When we search for connections between them, his books give us a notion about Flusser’s early contacts, before his return to Europe, to German, Italian and Spanish intellectuals, and most of them are connected to his great interlocutor Vincente Ferreira da Silva. But we find also an obvious relation to the lesser-known Portuguese thinkers such as Eudoro de Sousa, as well as Flusser’s acquaintance with authors like Agostinho da Silva and Delfim Santos who held great significance for the dialog between Portugal and Brazil in the 1950s.

Gang (PDF 408.31 KB)

Meu bem, você não entendeu nada: a generosidade cética de Vilém Flusser

The sentence “My dear, you didn’t understand nothing” was one of the preferred sentences of Vilém Flusser in his dialogs with scholars and visitors. But this judgment was not used as a vain statement of superiority. On the contrary: Flusser wanted to demonstrate the impossibility of any final truth, underlining the necessity of doubt and of the fictional structure of all our perception. Flusser’s famous sentence, apparently destructive, was not less than an unsuspected generosity, giving the scholars and visitors back what most kinds of opinion eliminate, that is, the doubt and the phenomenological view to see things from more than one perspective.

Meu bem (PDF 177.95 KB)

O mundo novo da língua no itinerário de Vilém Flusser

When Vilém Flusser reached Brazil as a Jewish fugitive in the early 1940s, he didn´t know any Portuguese, and he faced a long and difficult path of nearly twenty years until he published his first article in the language of the new tropical world. From this painful experience with a new form of thinking, and by practicing a constant dialog between his Jewish-Czech-German culture rooted in Prague and the Portuguese language, he discovered that whatever he thought in Portuguese was informed by a specific Portugality or Brazilianness, that every language has its reality and that this new language and culture didn’t fit in with the categories of his youth. In this process, Flusser turned to one of the most important philosophers, including some of the most important intellectuals like Guimarães Rosa, who recognized the special character of the Portuguese language and who contributed fundamentally to the development of an authentic Luso-Brazilian philosophy.

Mundo novo (PDF 213.53 KB)

Uma reinterpretação linguística da ontologia

This essay intends to explore the ontological consequences of Vilém Flusser’s philosophy of language that he introduced in his first works, written in Portuguese and published in Brazil. This paper will critically examine its main topics: his definition of speech as an act and language as an expanding human presence in the cosmos; linguistic performance as the most dignifying human characteristic and the identification of reality with language; and finally, the thesis that language creates, shapes and disseminates reality. Starting out from an instrumental definition of language, Flusser is compelled to define the world as secondary in relation to language. This paper tries to examine the underlying tensions or paradoxes of such a position as part of Flusser’s dramatic rhetoric strategy, exploring the dangers of an extremely idealistic position sustaining the project of a linguistic ontology.

Reinterpretação (PDF 225.65 KB)

O design segundo Vilém Flusser

The works of Vilém Flusser contain explicit as well as implicit traces of a philosophy of design, principally in the way of an investigation about the sign intentionality of the human as a symbolic animal. Retracing Flusser’s anthropological and philosophical ideas and hereby the cultural evolution from the formation of things to the information of non-things, the present essay points to the importance and responsibility of the designer in society today.

O design (PDF 154.61 KB)

“Acheronta movebo”: On the Diabolical Principle in Vilém Flusser’s writing

This paper explores what might be called the ‘diabolical principle’ in Vilém Flusser’s work, tracing its evolution from the early Brazilian to the last German texts. If God, as the German mystics asserted, is basically ineffable and, thus, comparable to absolute nothingness, the devil – at least within Western civilization – stands for the ultimate frailty and absurdity of all human endeavors, that is, for language, history, progress, and for our continuous attempts to create sense and impose form on the unfathomable nothingness surrounding us. Western history, according to Flusser, is basically a diabolical pursuit.
Flusser made use of the figure of the devil in A historia do diabo, first published in 1965, reinterpreting the history of the West from a diabolical point of view. The figure of the devil, the fallen angel inhabiting the dark abysses, however, plays also a major role in Vampyroteuthis infernalis, published in 1987, twenty-two years later. In the second text, it is the devil wearing the mask of Lucifer, the light-bearer.

Acheronta (PDF 333.97 KB)

Das Ding im Werk von Vilém Flusser und Eudoro de Souza

The question about the thing is one of the main topics in the work of Vilém Flusser. It seeks to reconsider not only the phenomenology of the things and the problem between the natural and the cultural objects but, importantly, a focus on the “thing” forefronts his theory about human evolution from the manipulation of things towards the digitization of the so called non-things. The connection between Eudoro de Sousa and Vilém Flusser, both friends of the Brazilian Philosopher Vicente Ferreira da Silva in the 1950s in São Paulo, goes also back to the History of the Devil, in which Flusser reinterpreted the Devil as a) the lord of the things and b) the time and the seven sins as the inner mechanism of western civilization. In the 1980s, Eudoro de Sousa, wrote his Mythology, in which he also considers the diabolic force of instrumental reason and the necessity of recovering the symbolic possibility and the reintegration of all things in some kind of final harmony. Both philosophers where influenced by the work of Martin Heidegger, and the present essay tries to show their adaptation of Heidegger’s thinking as well as the parallels between Eudoro de Sousa’s and Vilém Flusser’s vision of overcoming the “diabolic” crisis of Western industrialized civilization.

Das Ding (PDF 284.13 KB)

Religião, sagrado e mito em Vilém Flusser

Beginning with Flusser’s early writing on language Language an Reality and the History of the Devil, where God and the Devil appear as mere procurers of the human will by giving sense to God’s creations, Braz Teixeira shows the significance of Religion, the Sacred an Myth in the entire work of Vilém Flusser. Beside his later divergence from most Brazilian thinkers, primarily the so called School of São Paulo, including Vicente Ferreira da Silva, Flusser expresses his interest in religion, in the notions of myth and ritual, and in the significance of sacrifice with the idea that language not only determines what we call natural, but also tries to reach that which is beyond the natural. In the vision of Flusser religion would be the human capacity to understand the sacred dimension of the world, revealing the radical opacity of things. For the author of Natural:mente, myths have a sacred content, but not an immediate manifestation. They are the parting points for history and, depicting the primary structures of our behavior, they are equally the highest expressions of language.

O sagrado (PDF 210.06 KB)

For Flusser From 3kta

For Flusser (PDF 140.21 KB)

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