Angenommen (Vermutung, jetzt!) /Angenommen – Kurz und gut / Now suppose / Angenommen. Einleitende Bedenken / Angenommen. Einleitung / Suppose that. Preliminary doubts / Suponhamos. Dùvidas preliminaries /Suppose that. Introductory considerations / ...
The first text published here, “Angenommen (Vermutung jetzt!)”, is a German translation of “Now suppose” with an introductory comment by William Hanff. It is possibly one of the seeds from which the other texts we are publishing here originated and at the same time the initial spark for the idea of a special issue about Flusser’s book Angenommen. The Portuguese and the English versions of Angenommen, which consist only of nine scenarios, were not finished. On the other hand, Flusser wrote two German versions, a first incomplete one and a second one with the final twenty-two scenarios. In preparation for the book edition of Angenommen, Flusser wrote several short essays and opening chapters in German, English, and Portuguese, constantly changing the title, the subtitle, and the content. Some of these texts bear an epigraph by Isaac Newton – “Hypotheses non fingo” – some do not. This quote was later included in the first German edition of the book published in 1989. The first two essays of this series are probably “Angenommen” and “Now suppose”. They are longer than most of the following texts and have the same beginning. However, the English version, that is slightly shorter and was most probably written after the German one, introduces on the second page the notion of an armed terrorist running towards the future. In the following versions, this image was moved to the beginning. Two more German versions, “Angenommen. Einleitung” and “Angenommen. Einleitende Bedenken” followed, along with two related English versions, “Suppose that. Preliminary doubts” and “Suppose that. Introductory considerations”, as well as a Portuguese variant, “Suponhamos. Dùvidas preliminaries”. Add to this the short essay “What if? A series of scenarios in search of images” and two other related texts “Randerscheinungen” and “Kurz und gut” which was published in “zeitmitschrift. Journal für Ästhetik & Politik” (7/1, 1990: 16–22). A polyglot parallel reading of all the different variants of the opening chapter and the other related texts that finally led to the publication of Angenommen in 1989 allows a fascinating insight into the hesitations and complexities of Flusser’s self-translating writing process.
An Improbable Science Fiction
The essay explores Flusser’s thoughts on both the literary genre of science fiction, as understood by Suvin and Jameson, and the employment of fiction in science, an idea that can be traced back to Vaihinger’s scientific fictions. Texts such as The History of the Devil, “O bicho de sete cabeças” [The seven-headed beast], and “Science Fiction” are analyzed and compared, attentive to the philosophic and scientific insights informing them. Flusser believed most science fiction is banal (The History of the Devil) and, following information theory, proposed the genre should turn towards the possible, yet unlikely. He believed science fiction could be more than a mere empty diversion, a “turning aside from the original course”, and could actually become a window for us to see our future (“O bicho de sete cabeças”). In “Science Fiction”, he frames his topic more as a gray zone between science and imagination than as a literary genre. Fiction as epistemology. In this understanding of the term, the philosopher also links science fiction with the question of technical images, for he believes we are more likely to find it in synthetic images and computer algorithms than in texts. The present essay goes on to throw some light on the relationship between science fiction and real science, as well as between science fiction and the future. The impossibility of predicting the future is identified as a question pertinent to both science fiction and philosophy of science, and is explored through works of Hume, Meillassoux, Taleb, Bergson, and Berardi.