Rainer Guldin (PhD) was Lecturer of German Language and Culture at the Faculties of Communication and Economic Sciences at the Università della Svizzera italiana in Lugano (Switzerland) from 1996 to 2022. He studied English and German Literature in Zurich and Birmingham (Great Britain). His diploma was dedicated to the American writer H. P. Lovecraft, and his Ph.D. thesis focused on the work of the German writer Hubert Fichte. He taught courses and held seminars at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) in Brazil (2001), the Bauhaus Universität in Weimar (Germany) (2003), and the Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies of the University of Manchester (England) (2013). He was also visiting professor (Cathedra IEAT/Fundep) at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte (UFMG) Brazil (2012). In 2013 and 2015, he taught a course on multilingual literature at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) (Switzerland). Publications: Vilém Flusser – Hundert Zitate (together with Andreas Müller-Pohle), Berlin 2020; Metaphors of Multilingualism. Changing Attitudes towards Language Diversity in Literature, Linguistics and Philosophy, Routledge, New York, 2020; O homem sem chão: a biografia de Vilém Flusser, Annablume, Sāo Paulo (2017); and Vilém Flusser (1920-1991). Ein Leben in der Bodenlosigkeit. Biographie, transcript, Bielefeld 2017 (together with Gustavo Bernardo); Translation as Metaphor, Routledge, New York 2016 and 22018; Politische Landschaften. Zum Verhältnis von Raum und nationaler Identität, transcript, Bielefeld 2014; Spiegelgeschichten. Zu Hubert Fichtes und Hans Henny Jahnns Thomas Chatterton, Rimbaud Verlag, Aachen 2010; Wolkenformationen […] aus dem Dunst der Möglichkeiten. Zur nubigenen Einbildungskraft, Walther König, Cologne 2009; Vilém Flusser (together with Anke Finger and Gustavo Bernardo), W. Fink UTB, Paderborn 2009; Die Sprache des Himmels. Eine Geschichte der Wolken, Kadmos, Berlin 2006; Philosophieren zwischen den Sprachen. Vilém Flussers Werk, Wilhelm Fink, Munich 2005.
Articles of Rainer Guldin
Translating Space: On Rivers, Seas, Archipelagos and Straits
This paper explores possible convergences between translation and geography focusing on a series of spatial metaphors that try to break free from the simple idea of separation and opposition. Languages are viewed not as radically differing self-contained cultural continents existing on separate shores or riverbanks but as moving and constantly intermingling currents and heterogeneous interlinked archipelagos. Instead of the metaphor of the river that has to be crossed in the course of translation, the paper focuses above all on the metaphor of the strait which stresses the very difficulties of translation highlighting the absence of any easy binary division.
„Para documentar algo que no existe.“ Vilém Flusser – Joan Fontcuberta: una colaboración / „To document something which does not exist.“ Vilém Flusser – Joan Fontcuberta: A Collaboration
This paper is not only dedicated to Flusser’s and Fontcuberta’s letter exchange between 1984 and 1988, it also contains an analysis of their theoretical view of the practice of photography. Joan Fontcuberta wrote on Flusser’s philosophy of photography in a series of texts mainly focusing on its relevance for the work of the avant-garde photographer and the ontological status of the photographic image. Between 1984 and 1988 Flusser wrote a few texts that are directly linked to the work of Fontcuberta: the essays Releaser and Counter-vision as well as an introduction to Fontcuberta’s Herbarium published in 1985. These texts and their relevance for the relationship between Fontcuberta and Flusser and for a definition of the status of photography situated on the border of science and art are also discussed in the paper. Flusser asked Fontcuberta to take a picture of his ‘Bibliophagus convictus’ a hybrid insect between a bee and an ant. This picture, however, was never taken because of lack of time.
“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.
„Mit Schere und Klebstoff“: Überlegungen zur filmischen Techno-Imagination bei Vilém Flusser
This essay explores Flusser’s theoretical texts on the cinema and the concept of cinematic technical imagination. Flusser wrote about the cinema at two specific moments in his career, in the mid 1960ies and the late 1970ies. Altogether, however, this corpus amounts only to a handful of texts, very little indeed if compared to Flusser’s extremely prolific output on the philosophy of photography and the creative works of single photographers. In his analysis Flusser draws a radical distinction between film making and the structure of movie theaters, that is, between production and distribution. The cinema not only is far from having realized all its creative potential as a medium, the very way films are consumed thwarts the revolutionary force hidden within the medium. To really appreciate its force fully one would have to study the cinematic technical imagination and its ability to create a radically new vision of the world.
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.
Die zweite Unschuld: Heilsgeschichtliche und eschatologische Perspektiven im Werk Vilém Flussers und Marshall McLuhans
This paper deals with the possible relevance of eschatological and messianic perspectives in Vilém Flusser’s and Marshall McLuhan’s media theories. Both authors postulate a first stage from which media evolution sets out and a last stage to be reached with the development of new media such as television, film, and photography. McLuhan describes the global village as the result of a process of totalizing re-tribalization: it returns us to a ‘second orality’ under the auspices of the integrating forces of tactility. Flusser, on the other hand, conceives of the telematic society of the future as an attempt at synthesizing Jewish and Greek traditions: it reaches back to a previous unity by moving beyond it.