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As utopias de Flusser

For Flusser, Auschwitz revealed “the potential utopia embedded in our culture. For the first time in our history we can feel that the utopia towards which we strive […] is the extermination camp”. And he concluded: “There can be no political paradise. Because political consciousness is unhappy, every consciousness is unhappy.” This paper argues that his media theory intended to “project us beyond the [Western] project”, which ended in Auschwitz. The utopian traces of his work come to light in his engagement with Brazil, in his informational theory, in his formulation of a positive “Heimatlosigkeit” and of “post-history”. He was not a classic utopist, nor a Marxist, but someone engaged in the design of a new world free from fascism.

As utopias (PDF 305.59 KB)

Golem, Roboter und andere Gebilde. Zu Vilém Flussers Apparatbegriff

This essay attempts a systematic genealogic reconstruction of Flusser’s concept of apparatus from Portuguese texts of the early 1960ies up to the Bochumer Vorlesungen held in the summer of 1991 shortly before Flusser’s death. As with many other instances from Flusser’s work the concept of apparatus is decidedly interdisciplinary in nature, positioning itself on the border of philosophy, sociology, history, literature, the arts, cybernetics and technology. This fundamental ambivalence becomes particularly visible in the use of the German word ‘Apparat’ and its many derivatives, as for instance ‘Verwaltungsapparat’, ‘Fotoapparat’ or ‘Messapparat’, subsuming under the same heading the photographic camera, Kafka’s impenetrable bureaucratic apparatus and the perfectly operating apparatus of Auschwitz. Over the course of many years Flusser combined different textual sources to fashion his view of the apparatus. Many of them stem directly from the history Prague. Apart from Kafka’s novels, Karel Čapeks R.U.R, as well the figure of the Golem as it appears in the legend of Rabbi Löw, would also have to be mentioned. Flusser’s concept of the apparatus is, furthermore, connected to the philosophy of Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger and Giorgio Agamben.

Golem (PDF 389.23 KB)