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Genocide and a Tapeworm. Flusser’s Post-Catastrophic Fabulism

This article examines Flusser’s use of fables in What If? and Vampyroteuthis Infernalis as a response to the groundlessness of catastrophic events such as the Holocaust. It begins with Flusser’s seemingly grotesque joke about mass death in What If? as an opening to a discussion of Flusser’s distinctive combination of brutal realism and playful creativity. By comparing Flusser’s work with other scholars responding to the horrors of the twentieth century, such as Benjamin, Adorno, and Arendt, this article argues that Flusser’s fabulist writing provides a form of writing and thinking that allows horror to viscerally impact its reader without offering a false sense of mastery or certainty. Drawing insight from On Doubt and Groundless, this article situates fables within Flusser’s broader oeuvre. It distinguishes fables from the mythological approaches found in other Brazilian writings grappling with the limits of comprehension, such as Lévi-Strauss and Viveiros de Castro’s (post)structuralist anthropologies and Ferreira da Silva’s philosophy of mythology. Through these distinctions, Flusser’s fabulist writings are portrayed as a unique endeavour to confront groundlessness with humility, seriousness, and creativity.

Genocide (PDF 367.93 KB)

Das Ding im Werk von Vilém Flusser und Eudoro de Souza

The question about the thing is one of the main topics in the work of Vilém Flusser. It seeks to reconsider not only the phenomenology of the things and the problem between the natural and the cultural objects but, importantly, a focus on the “thing” forefronts his theory about human evolution from the manipulation of things towards the digitization of the so called non-things. The connection between Eudoro de Sousa and Vilém Flusser, both friends of the Brazilian Philosopher Vicente Ferreira da Silva in the 1950s in São Paulo, goes also back to the History of the Devil, in which Flusser reinterpreted the Devil as a) the lord of the things and b) the time and the seven sins as the inner mechanism of western civilization. In the 1980s, Eudoro de Sousa, wrote his Mythology, in which he also considers the diabolic force of instrumental reason and the necessity of recovering the symbolic possibility and the reintegration of all things in some kind of final harmony. Both philosophers where influenced by the work of Martin Heidegger, and the present essay tries to show their adaptation of Heidegger’s thinking as well as the parallels between Eudoro de Sousa’s and Vilém Flusser’s vision of overcoming the “diabolic” crisis of Western industrialized civilization.

Das Ding (PDF 284.13 KB)