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How to Face the Terror of Reason: From Philosophy to Literature

This paper explores the relationship of philosophy and literature, and the role of irony in the search of a possible way out of the hell of the apparatus created by the terror of reason. Franz Kafka’s Gregor Samsa from The Metamorphosis and Jaroslav Hašek’s Švejk from The Adventures of Brave Soldier Švejk pre-figure the future and are in a way are ironical brothers of Vilém Flusser.

The Terror of Reason (PDF 150.03 KB)

Die Briefe zwischen Vilém Flusser und Felix Philipp Ingold, 1981–1990

This article examines the correspondence between Vilém Flusser and Felix Philipp Ingold, a professor of cultural and social history of Russia, besides being a well-known poet, writer, and translator. In this extensive correspondence (1981–1990), both scholars reflect upon and criticize each other’s work, in a very productive manner. Especially Flusser, who was challenged to be more precise about central terms of his cultural philosophy, and media/communication theory. The article gives an overview of the last topics discussed by them. However, because it could not equality examine all concepts in depth, it focus upon the correspondence that helped Flusser clarify his concept of technical/synthetic image – which remains, nevertheless, an ambivalent term.

Saul segundo Flusser

This paper will focus on the first text of Vilém Flusser maintained until today. It is the play Saul, written by the thinker at the age of fifteen or sixteen, in 1935 or 1936. The drama, filled with an anguishing existential atmosphere, was written in Prague, the city dangerously neighboring Germany, where the Nuremberg anti-Semitic Race Laws had just began to come into force. In his first work, the author had already built up a dialectical structure, characteristic of his later texts. His very peculiar dialectics, however, does not generate a synthesis, much to the contrary; it generates another dialectics, which instead of limiting, broadens the reflection. In Saul, darkness is opposed to light, Saul to David, the Bible to the twentieth-century. In Flusser’s play, the elements obtain unconventional meanings: darkness is connected with feminine, with nature, with mythos and reconciliation; in turn light, which represents the Universal God, is related to violence and suffering. Saul is an errant character with flaws, weakness, and is deeply human, while David, with his perfection, is perverse. In the last scene, the biblical poetic world of lamentations and hymns cedes place to the prosaic universe of the twentieth-century. The dry, ironic and scientifically objective style of the dialogues between a physician and a man “in leisure clothes” dominates the stage on which lies Saul’s body. This brief text presents excerpts from the play and contextualizes it in light of Flusser’s later works.

Saul segundo Flusser (PDF 235.29 KB)

Vampyroteuthis Infernalis: l’alterità capovolta

The Vampyroteuthis Infernalis is a text that defies labels by layering scientific, philosophical, and anthropological perspectives. We should read it “lengthwise” in order to share the vision of this brilliant metaphorical story and post-human fairy tale. Flusser eradicates points of view that are rusty, ancient and anthropocentric. In this, he sheds a beam of light not only on the ideas but also on the method, and the point of view. Throughout the book, the literary device turns out to be a kind of powerful “antivirus” against the rhetoric and the morals of our “a priori”. The Vampyroteuthis emerges where we dive: it is the dark side, the sleep of reason and the monster of dreams; it is the common unconscious, the fear of the unknown, the repression of drives; it is what is submerged by science and religion; it is the black, the different, the other; it is what we would like to suppress in ourselves, but actually, if this emergence is slow and conscious, the subsequent integration will be healthy and productive. It will be the utopia of new humans who look out and see themselves.

L’alterità capovolta (PDF 171.37 KB)

O misterioso Romy Fink, personagem de “Bodenlos”

Romy Fink (1912-1972) was a lawyer, an art dealer and an English mystic who lived in Brazil. Flusser understood Fink’s life as expressing the moral and existential values of Judaism.

Fink (PDF 410.21 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)

Flusser, music and me

Flusser (PDF 205.11 KB)

O sete teso / O medo do Demo

O sete teso (M4A 10.59 MB)
O medo do demo (MP3 9.21 MB)

“To make music with visionary power”. On the Relationship of Music and Mathematics in Vilém Flusser’s Work

This essay deals with the relationship of mathematics and music in Vilém Flusser’s work, an aspect that has not received the attention it deserves. Related issues are the complex dialectics of sound, number, image and word as well as the relationship of hearing and seeing. The essay focuses on two texts written 22 years apart but closely connected to each other: The History of the Devil (1963) and Into the Universe of Technical Images (1985). This makes it possible to illustrate the inner coherence of the whole oeuvre and the persistence with which Flusser kept returning to the same central issues of his thinking and writing. In the context of the issue discussed here, this leads to an all-encompassing synthesis of several diverging aspects. In the new computerized technical images mathematics and music, the West and the East, art and science merge, the senses and the codes come together, the eye, the ear and the fingertips, the visual, the acoustic and the tactile converge and fuse creating a new unheard of and unseen multilingual, multi-mediatic and multi-discursive unity.

Visionary power (PDF 286.84 KB)

“O Ser que nega”

The article develops the Flusserian metaphor of the mirror as a being who denies, by relating it to the short stories of Machado de Assis and Guimarães Rosa, which have “The Mirror” as their title. The mirror of these three writers, just as their fiction or their philosophical fiction, denies reality to propose an alternative reality. The article also shows how the thinking of Vilém Flusser is connected with the fiction of God built by civilization, with the God of fiction as He appears in literature.

Or ser que nega (PDF 228.07 KB)

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