The human being is awed, a species fraught with deficiencies and shortcomings. Vilém Flusser’s concept of anthropology feeds on a corresponding theory of abstraction, complete with analyses of cultural techniques, technologies, and a progression of evolutionary steps, whereby humans develop new “abstract universes” in order to overcome their own, biologically determined, doom. Flusser calls this “neg-anthropology”; it offers the possibility to move out of this defective natural state and into freedom. Freedom, a complex Flusserian category that incorporates responsibility, applies not only to the imagination (projection) of abstract, zero-dimensional technical images and of interpersonal connectivity; it also applies to the organic limitations of the body that we are to overcome – if we want to.
In fact, the cyborg as well as current practices of body hacking might have appealed to Flusser for he advocated “manipulation of the subjected body” since the “goal of all body projection is to design the body such that you can make use of it” (Vom Subjekt zum Projekt, 1994, p. 98; translated from the German). Such reasoning evokes discourses of trans- or posthumanism today, and demands more debate on Flusser’s own ideas about sensory perception and his philosophy of the body. Flusser’s anthropological work, however, began decades earlier with his reflections on Brazilian cultures and a new humanity in his work Brasilien oder die Suche nach dem neuen Menschen [Brazil or the Search for a New Man] (1994).
Original article by Anke Finger in Flusseriana