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correspondence

Correspondence

In 1951, at the age of thirty-one, Vilém Flusser wrote to Alex Bloch: “Whereas in my first Heideggerian letter I tried to describe him faithfully, my last letters were interpretations, which under the influence of this gigantic personality turned out almost uncritical. To the extent I am able to recover from this invasion into my existence, […] critical reflections will emerge in me.” (Briefe an Alex Bloch, 2000, p. 83; translated from the German) Twenty-two years later, he wrote about Bloch: “He was unsympathetic and deeply wounded one’s amour-propre, but one always accepted his criticism, because it was simply always right. My own style and my own way of thinking are in part consequences of this Blochian catharsis.” (ibid., p. 10; translated from the German)

These fragments from Flusser’s network of relationships suggest the depth of his archived dialogues. For him, writing letters is “one of the most rened of the arts” (“Letters,” in: Does Writing Have a Future?, 2011, p. 105), while at the same time it “models the highest form of any textual reading” (ibid., p. 107). Hence the concept of art that Flusser formulates in a letter to Milton Vargas can also serve as the key to analyzing his own correspondence: it is a form of aesthetic articulation with which he tries to integrate himself into social, political, religious, cultural, and transhuman contexts in order to maintain the possibility of a reality worth living (correspondence with Milton Vargas, November 4, 1972).

With his analogy to the great Other, Flusser emphasizes the religious significance of the letter: the Virgin Mary’s immaculate conception is a symbolic process in which the Archangel Gabriel conveys the message so that Mary can give it a body. The letter is “one of the last openings through which we could hope to recognize the other” (“Letters,” p. 109).

Whether from a philological, philosophical, political, or religious perspective, by means of the old dispositif of writing and its traces we gain insights into how Flusser lived and thought in the diaspora. Irrespective of a large-scale secularization in an accelerated, telematic communication, his writings remain sources of mobility for one’s own thinking: a linear form that can develop into intersubjectivity the moment it is decoded.

Original article by Lothar Hartmann in Flusseriana

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correspondence.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/05 17:47 (external edit)