An apocalypse is more than the articulation of pessimistic forebodings, more than the imagined end of the world, for after the catastrophe liberation and a phase of renewal begins; seen from this perspective, it is a paradise that transcends history. Apocalyptic authors usually imagine themselves to be on the brink of this great catastrophe, when unmistakeable signs begin to presage imminent disaster, but the chain reaction of fateful occurrences has not yet been triggered – it is the radical awareness of the end of time that expects imminent deliverance.
With the growing importance of the new media, critical thinkers invoke vague and terrifying prospects, which are already familiar from the debates on the “old” media of mass communication. On the one hand, they have become wary of the loss of meaning in electronic images, which are all surface, to the point where the survival of humanity itself is in question. On the other hand,debates about the great “revelation” of the new media in the global village continue to be conducted with equal intensity: in this miraculous light, computers and the Internet become the key to world peace and the heralds of salvation and hope. It is in this context that Vilém Flusser points to the fact that the escalation of technical and scientific progress follows a logic of inexorable abstraction of matter. This process of change is taking place to such an extent that objects and devices increasingly interpose themselves between human beings and the world, and reality is reduced to a mere medium. Technology must therefore correspond to “communicology”: humankind can avail itself of media and networking as though they are the means of salvation from the absurdity of the end of existence and of the world.
Although Vilém Flusser’s thinking is not entirely devoid of contradictions or idiosyncratic and controversial aspects, its great merit lies in his search for new categories, for concepts appropriate to a human, constructive future that are not based on preserving obsolete structures, but on building a new society: within an ethics of concern for the others, with philosophical fictions, and inspired above all by thought-provoking stimuli that seek a direction in which theory and art, science and politics can all advance together.