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Até a terceira e a quarta geração: a experiência do holocausto como fundamento das teorias de Vilém Flusser / Unto the Third and Fourth Generation. The Experience of the Holocaust as the Basis of Vilém Flusser’s Philosophy / Do třetího i čtvrtého pokolení

This essay focuses on the fundamental significance of the Holocaust in Vilém Flusser’s life and thinking. In his still unpublished Até a terceira e a quarta geração (Unto the Third and Fourth Generation) written in the early 1960ies, the problem of Nazism is explicitly thematized and linked to the development of Western society. The abandonment of a religious view of the world in the Renaissance led to the loss of a grounding sense of reality, which was filled up by science (the new religion) and later on by nationalism. These developments eventually led to the First and the Second World War, as well as to Auschwitz and Adolf Eichmann as the ideal representatives of the apparatus and the functionary.

Astúcias do Design

Today there is a plurality of design concepts and trends. After a brief presentation of such multifaceted perspectives, this article aims to discuss Vilém Flusser’s concept of design in order to emphasize its originality, which unfortunately has not been sufficiently brought into the light, especially by those who are both practically and/or theoretically involved with design. Moreover, it is a concept that, for its originality, adds complexity to that which is the backbone of design: the notion of project.

Astúcias do Design (PDF 141.38 KB)

Imagens da Pós-História: um diálogo entre Flusser e Benjamin

This paper intends to establish a dialogue between Vilém Flusser and Walter Benjamin, considering their similarities and their differences. First, this approximation is inscribed in the philosophy of language, in which both authors take the category of “nomination” as a primordial act. Second, their common interest in technology and media, as determining elements in modern society, leads to a fertile and critical discussion towards the concepts of “technological reproducibility” and “technical image”. Finally, and no less important, is the philosophy of history, in which their positions contrast: their concepts of “history” and “post-history” are defined by the opposition between continuity and discontinuity. According to Flusser, history is essentially linear. It starts with the invention of writing and ends with the invention of technical images in post-history, which is essentially discontinuous. Benjamin, on the other hand, declines the concept of history as continuity, and develops a model based upon the principle of “assemblage”, in which history and post-history are simultaneously embraced. Flusser’s concept of post-history, nevertheless, is similar to Benjamin’s concept of history in some aspects, mainly in their common emphasis upon technical images. The crucial difference between them lies in the word “post-history” (Nachgeschichte), or “posterior history”, which in Benjamin does not have the same substantive meaning Flusser gives it, nor does it designate a specific period.

Post-History, technical images and freedom in times of barbarism

Amongst the various media theorists who emerged in the last century, Walter Benjamin and Vilém Flusser are unquestionable references in regard to issues related to the narratives and the world of images. In addition to thinking about media devices and apparatuses beyond technical objects, both Benjamin and Flusser considered media images as concepts that articulate new epistemological and ontological views of the world.

On the other hand, it is possible to identify in both theorists thought processes that engage the concept of history with different perspectives. In line with critiques of a universal and hegemonic history, and without falling into an apologetic discourse about a presumed end of history, these authors offer us fresh perspectives in relation to historicism through a fruitful dialogue with the realm of technical images.

Post-history, technical images, and freedom in times of barbarism focuses not only upon contributions by Walter Benjamin and Vilém Flusser, but the article also examines the curatorial perspective of Arquivo Vivo, showcased at the Paço das Artes, in São Paulo, in 2013. This exhibition highlights the central position of art in the production of knowledge about images, history, and narratives within the framework of contemporaneity.

Post-History (PDF 228.26 KB)

A positividade da negação: o exílio de Flusser no Brasil

This text contextualizes Vilém Flusser’s exile in Brazil during the turbulent period of the civil-military uprising of the 1960s, both historiographically and philosophically. It focuses upon the Flusserian network and the discussions of his intellectual constellation. Flusser’s philosophical thoughts are examined through earlier writings including the books History of the Devil and Phenomenology of the Brazilian, in addition to essays published in newspapers, and to his personal correspondence. Interdiscoursive relations are further examined in reference to the writings of Ernesto Grassi and Ernst Jünger. Although Grassi and Jünger arrived in Brazil under different circumstances, they nevertheless introduced concepts that were somehow compatible with Flusser’s narrative of Brazilian history. Special attention is drawn to Flusser’s notion of “progress” and “history” in relation to the Cold War period.

Negação (PDF 252.3 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)

Sagrado e profano na escrita. Vilém Flusser e Christoph Türcke

The article compares two readings of the dialectic of the sacred and the profane in relation to the concept of writing. Flusser believed that there is no future for writing because it becomes an obsolete code, increasingly overcome by programming. Türcke, on the other hand, observed that the paradigm shift introduced by new media did not change in any way the basic structures of capitalism, on the contrary, it reinforced and renewed them. While Flusser stated that writing is profane, linear, and therefore tied to the conditions of causality, historicity, authorship and scientific progress, Türcke examined a historical development of writing, which explored the specific functions of the profane and the sacred. 

Sagrado e profano (PDF 371.85 KB)

Do Funcionário e de suas implicações

This article deals with job affairs and their socio-historical consequences. We will discuss how workers have been turned into a functionaries after the beginning of post-history by analyzing today’s society from the point of view of the relation between work and functioning. We will also discuss the consequences of the modifications that go with the shift into post-history and their epistemological and socio-cultural implications to provide an analysis of Flusser’s thinking on this matter.

Do Funcionário (PDF 162.09 KB)