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Vilém Flusser in Brazil: Media and the New Human

This study focuses on Vilém Flusser’s seminal essay on the diverse aspects that permeate life in Brazil, Fenomenologia do brasileiro: em busca de um novo homem. Despite the fact that it presents a lucid analysis of Brazilian society, the text still has not been as extensively studied as other important works from the philosopher. Through qualitative content analysis, I stress the role attributed by Flusser to the media in the genesis of a new human. Flusser argued that a new form of sociability (the new human) could result from the peculiarities of Brazilian society, such as a synthesis of diverse influences in the creation of original cultural manifestations, and a unique form of mutual responsibility. And he called attention to the predominance of broadcast media as constitutive of public discourse in that country, due to the high level of illiteracy among the general population until recently. I hope this article contributes to the scholarship on Flusser by providing context to the interpretation of an essay that remains up-to-date and useful for reflection on Brazil’s past, present and future.

Media and the New Human (PDF 218.82 KB)

Horizontes da filosofia do exílio: as Américas de Horkheimer e de Flusser

This article is a comparative study between Flusser’s and Horkheimer’s philosophy of exile. Their biographies are similar: they both suffered from persecution in their countries due to the anti-semitism of the Nazi regime, and saved themselves by immigration, first to another European country and later on to the Americas. But the similarities stop here. In the United States Horkheimer recovered intellectual freedom, but the American reality only confirmed the European mind set he had left behind: the empire of instrumental reason and the pervading presence of barbarism. Flusser, on the other hand, discovered a completely new world in the Brazilian territory: different not only from a geographic point of view but from a human perspective as well.

The Brazilian Exile of Vilém Flusser and Stefan Zweig

In this article, I outline the history of Jewish exile to Brazil during the 1930s and 1940s, and I compare Vilém Flusser’s philosophy of immigration and Stefan Zweig’s last work of fiction, Schachnovelle. Flusser and Zweig shared a similar dialectical form of thinking, and yet Zweig’s novella expressed the failure of finding a synthesis due to exile while Flusser found the synthesis in the experience of immigration itself. Flusser’s philosophy of immigration is not clearly applicable to those who are not in his same situation, since he places awareness, disengagement, and transcendence at a key position. His emphasis may not be applicable to all refugees, transnational immigrants, and border crossers; however, Zweig was one of those in a similar situation as Flusser. Like many of Zweig’s novellas, the framework of Schachnovelle is constructed around a number of opposites and their possible reconciliations and yet these various attempts to bring together the opposites all fail. Flusser’s philosophy is a positive one that has incredibly strong features, yet its limitations show up in an analysis of Zweig’s work and point to the need for further work in the philosophy of immigration.

Brazilian Exile (PDF 123.47 KB)