Based on the second law of thermodynamics, entropy is commonly understood as the propensity towards more and more probable states. Vilém Flusser often references entropy, and this surfaces as a commitment to the intersectionality of philosophy, natural history, and the natural sciences. Engagement with the natural sciences was at the forefront of Flusser’s practice, provoking his constant return to entropic and neg entropic states in his philosophical thought. In his text “Habit: The True Aesthetic Criterion (2002),” Flusser writes that “[e]verything that is new is terrible, not because of what it is, but because it is new. The degree of terror may be taken as a measure of novelty: the more terrible, the newer. In fact, this statement is nothing but a translation of the second law of thermodynamics into English. It states that novelty is an improbable inversion of the general tendency toward ever greater probability, and that it is ‘terrifying’ precisely because it is an inversion.” (“Habit,” in: Writings, 2002, p. 51)
Flusser states that this translation of entropy from the mathematical into the theoretical is radical because it moves towards quantifiable criteria in relation to aesthetics thus providing an opportunity to apply physics to art criticism. In aesthetic criticism, entropy can be thought of and translated as what Flusser calls “habit.” The probability that images will age, their loss of novelty, leads to habits in reading images and is thus entropic. For Flusser we counter entropy through thought, knowledge-making processes, and exchanges in order to give rise to possibilities rather than probability. It is through dialogue that we try to find and define meaning for ourselves in the face of entropy and death.
Original article by Deneige Nadeau in Flusseriana