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Flusser on-the-Fly: Towards an English Translation of Flusser’s Bochum Lectures

This essay examines Flusser’s lecture series in Germany at the Ruhr University Bochum in 1991 and the challenge of translating the lectures into English. The late Flusserian thought in the Bochum Lectures is preoccupied with programming, computing, and algorithms, describing a modern world of war-mongering programming functionaries. Flusser sees the future of humanity in continual playful re-programming instead of re-volutionizing ruptures. This essay then focuses on issues of language and translation – and on the author’s own challenge in translating Flusser’s lectures into English. The process involved establishing an energetic idiom that adequately captures his playful and idiosyncratic moments, his autodidact erudition, his on-the-fly theoretical vernacular and jarring movements, in rhetoric and gesture, of expansion and compression. Translatability, and thinking-as-translation, remained pertinent in Flusser’s thoughts in Bochum and he frequently employed etymological wordplays throughout his lectures in an attempt to make students aware of the obscured meanings of their conversant languages by oscillating between literalized and lateralized thought processes.

Bochum Lectures (PDF 458.52 KB)