Diaspora designates the living space and environment of a religious, national, and in a figurative sense an intellectual minority, and etymologically also includes the meaning of dispersion, of being dispersed. Vilém Flusser’s terminology relating to diaspora, which is never clearly dened in his texts, is closely connected to his uneasy identity as a Jew. Uneasy, because this identity is always imposed by others and represents a perspective from the outside, who see Flusser, as a Jew, situated within a cultural, historical, and religious framework that he was unable to shape himself. He was not free to recognize himself as Jewish – others made that decision for him. For that reason and with years of experience as an exile and displaced person behind him, Flusser defines his own identity as bodenlos [having no rm ground], which speaks to a rootlessness that oscillates between freedom and responsibility, between “free from what?” to “free for what?” and between cutting knots or cords and creating new ties or building bridges. Figuratively and metaphorically, in his life and in his work.
Rejecting the negative connotations of both Heimatlose, displaced persons, and Kosmopoliten, cosmopolites, Flusser argues for the notion of a Weltbürgertum, a worldly, internationalized educated middle class group for which Jews will act as catalysts – a liberating experience that will eliminate ethnic differences, as he asserts in Jude sein [Being Jewish] (1995). Diasporic rootlessness, life without an own territory, also informs Flusser’s essayistic and philosophical works. Although never specified as such, diasporic thinking could serve as a label for Flusser’s thought processes for it delineates his evolved phenomenological approach to those topics he chose to write about, which he circles around from multiple perspectives. He was a diasporic thinker, who maintained a dialogue with both the contingencies and the freely elected loyalties that his rootlessness unfailingly presented to him.