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Telematic Freedom and Information Paradox

The text discusses the relations between the notions of freedom and information in Vilém Flusser’s philosophy and aims at systematizing this complex problem. Flusser’s ideas on freedom in the ages of programs are deeply indebted to modern science, in particular to thermodynamics (Léon Brillouin), biochemistry (Jacques Monod), and information theory (Claude E. Shannon). In this article I present this indebtedness, contextualize it within a wider scope of Flusser’s oeuvre, and argue that the notion of information – borrowed from the hard sciences – does not provide firm grounds for his existentialism or his philosophy of communication. On the contrary, information (understood by Flusser in a twofold and contradictory way as entropy and negentropy) introduces foundational ambivalence and ambiguity to his philosophical project. I conclude that information – as defined by mathematicians and physicists – allows us to express freedom in the technoscientific era of programs in a non-reductionist fashion.

Telematic Freedom (PDF 342 KB)

The Free Will Impasse

This essay discusses the concepts of entropy and negentropy used by Vilém Flusser in his philosophy of photography to delineate connections between science and art. If the act of finding order within chaos has always been a quality specific to human beings, the overwhelming role machines hold in our society casts shadows on human agency. Since the Enlightenment, humankind has carried on a regimentation of nature with the goal of finding a way of theorizing everything within it. In the same way, empirical sciences have studied and portrayed the world of phenomena according to the laws of the moment. Shifting from prejudice to prejudice, however, they have never succeeded in finding an all-inclusive theory. Their way of systematization was adapted to all other areas of life, imposing itself through the norms of capitalism and production, leaving little space for human beings. In this scenario, human beings become puppets or tools. In this context, the arts are called upon to develop viable strategies to counteract the overwhelming power of social and technological control.

Free Will (PDF 555.52 KB)

Drafting the Techno-Imagination: A Future for Literary Writing?

Vilém Flusser paints a dire picture for the future of literary writing. He contests that it is doomed to be replaced by automated language games. In that sense, one can see literature and the image-culture as antagonistic forces. Drawing on examples from contemporary German literature, however, I show in which ways the literary imagination may contribute to the formation of the techno-imagination. The authors Ulrike Draesner and Thomas Lehr scrutinize the impact that visual media has on conceptual thinking and identity. Core ideas from Flusser’s media theory, such as the photographer as homo ludens, communication as resistance to natural entropy, and the re-conceptualization of space and time, feature prominently in the two 2005 novels Spiele (Games) and 42. In these texts, the imaginative capacity of fictional literature provides a conceptual space in which a new awareness towards technical images is drafted, tested, and reviewed.

Drafting (PDF 310.67 KB)

A natureza de Vilém Flusser: experiências limites

In the book O mundo codificado, Vilém Flusser claims that the purpose of life is to make us forget the lack of sense in life, which constantly moves us towards death. We are subjected to it in nature's domain. According to Flusser, human communication is unnatural given that its goal was once to organize and store information. However, we ask, is it really possible to oppose culture and nature as entropy and negentropy, the given and the constructed? This article discusses the concept of nature proposed by Vilém Flusser in relation to the representations of nature in the works of the writer Guimarães Rosa and of the botanist C.F.P. Von Martius.

A natureza (PDF 283.69 KB)

Las Matemáticas en el Pensamiento de Vilém Flusser

This paper aims to establish the importance of mathematical thinking in the work of Vilém Flusser. For this purpose it highlights the concept of the staircase of abstraction with which the Czech German philosopher finishes by reversing the top of the traditional pyramid of knowledge, we know from Plato and Aristotle. It also assumes an implicit cultural revolution in the refinement of the numerical element in a process of gradual abandonment of the purely alphabetic code, highlighting the new key code within the technological and telematic culture and uses the concepts of game theory, of probability theory and computing to analyze society and culture. Of particular importance is the affirmation of a new kind of imagination, a projective one. Today’s society and culture cannot be understood without resorting to the concepts and results coined and made in the course of developing a type of thinking entirely dominated by the mathematics.

Las Matemáticas (PDF 149.07 KB)

Cartas Flusserianas: diagnóstico sobre correspondência com Sérgio Paulo Rouanet

The purpose of this essay is to comment on the reading of a set of letters exchanged by Vilém Flusser (1920 - 1991) and Sérgio Paulo Rouanet (1934). The exchang e comprising 56 letters altogether – 30 by Flusser himself – took place between 1980 and 1991. It focuse d on some of Flusser’s most important concepts: the relationship of discourse and dialogue, the idea of ‘Apparat’, the existential dimension of writing, as well as the meaning of death and entropy for a theory of communication. Rouanet’s pertinent criticism reveals also some unexpected sides of Flusser’s theoretical assumptions.

Cartas Flusserianas (PDF 173.62 KB)