“It has become entirely impossible for us to behave naturally, but if we attempt to do so anyway, it is doubly dissembling.” (“Vorderhand,” in: Vom Subjekt zum Projekt, 1994, p. 256; translated from the German)
Ever since the first anthropoid ape fell out of a tree and began to walk upright with the help of levers, culture has been her or his true nature. “Any anthropology that would distinguish between the natural and artificial in us is based on a misunderstanding.” (ibid., p. 258; translated from the German) As defective creatures, human beings create an artificial environment –technology and culture – that becomes their nature. “The developing human being is by origin a historical being and lives under cultural conditions.” (ibid., p. 233; translated from the German) Vilém Flusser does not distinguish between culture and society nor between the foundations of the two: art and technology.
In the absence of any meaning provided by metaphysics, human beings have to create meaning themselves. As mortal creatures whose nature is culture, they hope to achieve immortality by leaving their traces behind in memories. “In their futile struggle against death, they bury information in objects in order to preserve them in cultural storage. Culture is a memory in which human beings hide from oblivion. […] Human beings want […] the information to pile up in the memory of ‘culture’ for as long as possible.” (“Gespräch, Gerede, Kitsch,” in: Nachgeschichte, 1993, pp.226–227; translated from the German)* “Culture” means “the device by which information acquired is stored so that it can be retrieved. […] That is how I have dened culture,” Flusser explains, “so that communicology is competent for it.” (Kommunikologie weiter denken, 2009, p.35; translated from the German) He explicitly pursues “communicology as cultural critique.” “We assume the structure of communication in general to be the substructure of culture and society.” (ibid., p. 36; translated from the German) That accounts for the necessity of a phenomenology of communication: “We […] try to tear open the belly of culture in order to see which communicological switches are concealed within it.” (ibid., p. 35; translated from the German)
* Editorial note: This passage does not exist in the English edition.
Original article by Andreas Ströhl in Flusseriana