“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.