Being Jewish means proposing models and living by them. For those who have both feet on the solid ground of reality, the Jews, who are not on rm ground (bodenlos) and thus live according to models, are a thorn in their side. Vilém Flusser sees this as one of the main reasons for anti-Semitism. At various points in his works, he refers to the dual origin of Western culture, to its formation from Judeo-Christian and Greek traditions. These two aspects stand in a complementary, but also conflict-laden relationship to each other, whereby the Jewish part has often been forced into the loser’s role, unjustly.
In Flusser’s eyes, the model-based practice of life of the Jews is ultimately superior to all Greek theories. One also nds this antithesis in his communicology, where Flusser juxtaposes two fundamental forms of dialogue. The Greek circular dialogue, which takes place around an empty center, focuses above all on theory, ideas, and new information. The Jewish network dialogue is quite different: Here the existential problem of death and the absurdity of life, as well as the relationship to others, are at the center. A Jewish theory of communication is less concerned with making ideas visible, and more with listening to the voice of the other and responding. Here knowledge is always connected with acknowledging the other and recognizing knowledge of oneself in the other. A synthesis of these two aspects has not come about in the course of Western history. The far more successful Greek dialogue form, which Flusser associates with the achievements of science in the modern era, has, moreover, prevented any sustained work on the network dialogue. Particularly in the context of the new media, however, it becomes necessary to rediscover the hidden Jewish tradition and make it productive: We need a Socrates of the phone network – a combination of circular dialogue and network dialogue.
Original article by Rainer Guldin in Flusseriana