Vampyroteuthis: a Segunda Natureza do Cinema. A ‘Matéria’ do Filme e o Corpo do Espectador
Vilém Flusser's Vampyroteuthis Infernalis reenacts and actualizes the time-honored tradition of a mental experiment that purports to efface the boundaries between man and animal. This ancient conceptual device, known in Baroque times as physica naturalis, seeks to illuminate the world of culture by means of its approximation with the world of nature. Instead of opposing poles, nature and culture become reflecting mirrors where man can acknowledge his ties to nature and the animal kingdom. More than just a rhetorical trope, the so-called allegory of natural history comprises what could be defined as a "philosophy of animality," espoused by thinkers such as Walter Benjamin, Gilbert Simondon and Jacques Derrida. In Vampyroteuthis, Flusser resorts to a strange marine creature in order to elaborate a sophisticated meditation on human existence and our relationship with the technological apparatuses we incessantly devise. The goal of this paper is to examine the recent history of the allegory, tracing its developments in the works of contemporary scholars, such as Siegfried Zielinski, Manuel de Landa and Vilém Flusser himself. Moreover, it investigates the applicability of the "philosophy of animality" within the field of film theory, suggesting an approach to filmic experience that focuses on the "material" aspects of cinema and regards the spectator's body as a site for the translation of images into affect and sensation.