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Vilém Flusser’s essays on the skin are attempts to move toward the planned final chapter of his book Lob der Oberflächlichkeit [In Praise of Super ficiality] (1993) – a preliminary study for Into the Universe of Technical Images (2011, originally published in German in 1985). However, this chapter was never written. In his drafts for a “theory of skin,” Flusser made use of one of his favorite “thought twisters”: perversion. According to Flusser, skin is not the border between body and world, but rather the other way round: body and world border the skin. More precisely: “[…] concretely ‘I’ and the ‘world’ are limits of the skin […].” (“Skin,” in: Flusser Studies, no. 2, 2006, p. 1) With his dermatology, Flusser was trying to think “superficially.” His specific dermatology is media theory.

With his special theory outside the realm of skin diseases, Flusser was searching for a possibility to step back from abstraction. In Flusser’s concept of becoming human, progressing abstraction is dened as subtraction of time. The steps from the universe of dots back into reality require time, since dot + time = line; line + time = plane; plane + time = body; and body + time = reality.

“Skin for skin!” as Satan says in the Book of Job showed Flusser the way to the contemporary problems of dignified intersubjectivity. Only in the breakdown of the subject – on the heap of potsherds where Job retains his faith in God – is it possible to achieve interhuman responsibility. Isn’t it so that for Flusser not only the subject – which is the process of breaking down – sheds its skin but also the concept? In the final chapter of Lob der Oberächlichkeit, he wrote: “Planes are surfaces of something: they are skins. Traditional planes are surfaces of bodies. The new planes are surfaces of concepts. Traditional planes are the consequence of a movement away from the concrete to the abstract. The new ones are consequences of a movement from the nal abstraction toward the concrete. Today we are standing where these two opposed skins meet.” (Lob der Oberächlichkeit, 1993, pp. 58–59; translated from the German)

Original article by Silvia Wagnermaier in Flusseriana

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