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As a Jew born in Prague who had to go into exile to avoid being killed, Vilém Flusser created an important theory about the attempt of the German Nazis to exterminate the Jews. Flusser’s father was beaten to death in Buchenwald concentration camp and his mother and sister were both murdered in Auschwitz. According to Flusser, post-history is not only a consequence of the telematic revolution and synthetic images, but also of the tragic defeat of Western reason in Auschwitz. This event was embedded in the logic of the West.

As he wrote in chapter “The Ground We Tread” in Post-History: “[…] our situation is in fact incomparable to any other. That is because an incomparable, unheard of, never before seen event happened recently, which emptied the ground we tread. Auschwitz. Other posterior events; Hiroshima, the Gulags, are nothing but variations of the first. Therefore every attempt to grasp the present leads to the following questions: how was Auschwitz possible? How can we live after this? Such questions […] relate to everyone who takes part in our culture. Because what is so incomparable, unheard of, never before seen and therefore incomprehensible in Auschwitz, is that it was there that Western culture revealed one of its inherent virtualities. Auschwitz is a characteristic realization of our culture.” (Post-History, 2013, p. 4)

Auschwitz reveals the affinity of the West to apparatuses. The utopia of the Western technological dream taken to extremes is the nightmare that was Auschwitz (ibid., pp. 8–9). Flusser’s communicology project becomes an attempt “to project ourselves out of that project,” “[o]ut of the history of the West” (ibid., p. 10). The information revolution of synthetic images should be perceived as an “answer to Auschwitz” (“We Shall Survive in the Memory of Others,”, 2010, p. 35). Our task is to prevent Auschwitz from happening in the future.

Original article by Márcio Seligmann-Silva in Flusseriana

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auschwitz.txt · Last modified: 2023/04/13 16:42 by steffi_winkler