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The Fantastic & Fictionalism in Flusser’s “Now Suppose”

In his essay “Now Suppose”, Vilém Flusser proposes two methods that can be used to anticipate future events: an analogue approach of “standing-on-tip-toes” to evaluate broader trends and possibilities, and a digital approach of “finger-tips-at-terminals” utilizing probabilistic technology for future prediction. This essay explores the use of different technologies, such as scientific lab equipment, big-data algorithms, and digital production tools, as examples of these ‘Futurizing Instruments.’ Flusser’s concept is related to Hans Vaihinger’s fictionalism and Tzvetan Todorov's study of the fantastic, as both provide insights into the role of imagination and uncertainty in anticipating future events. Connected to Flusser’s philosophy of photography and the concept of the technical apparatus this essay proposes a history of media technologies in ancient ritual, art, theater, cinema, and computer media, back into Magic/Ritual – and their potential for both entertainment and future anticipation. Incorporating ideas from Flusser’s other two essays “The Novel Called ‘Science’” and its parallel with the movement through the fantastic by way of fictionalism, and “Gestures on Videotape (for Fred Forest)” describing the validity of using video (and possibly even some fantastical or science fiction elements) to reinforce the material and theoretical concepts – portions of “Now Suppose” are reimagined and presented as video and film scripts, particularly his concept of a ‘terrorist jumping from a monitor’.  Flusser explores the use of video as a medium to communicate concrete phenomena and theoretical concepts. This approach requires a balance between scientific fictionalism and literary fantasy.

Fictionalism (PDF 311.95 KB)