Vilém Flusser’s perhaps most remarkable reference to another philosopher is his borrowing of the idea of eternal recurrence or eternal return; an idea associated with Friedrich Nietzsche, who reinterpreted some aspects of Eastern philosophy.
In Nietzsche, the “eternal return of the same” is a cosmological concept of the natural order, proposed as a hypothesis within the context of ethics. It assumes a nite universe with a limited number of physical components, which are not material, but knots of high energy, each one with a different level of energy than the other knots.
According to Flusser, all mental and material forms arise from such differences in the mass of energy. The total mass of energy remains the same and is unchanging, whereas time is the unlimited, innite succession of different configurations of the distribution of energy within the whole. Transformations are variations among the differences in energy, as though each knot of concentrated energy permanently struggles to absorb the other knots. Every possible global configuration of energy distribution in the in- nite temporal succession of configurations is repeated over and over again, endlessly. Ultimately, this happens with every physical or mental event in the life of every person: it recurs eternally. Nietzsche explores the ethical consequences of this process.
Flusser limits the concept of eternal recurrence to the analysis of images (physical, mental, individual, or belonging to the collective universe of images). The nodes of information that can be concentrated in one or another section of the image, in each different interpretation (or reading) of that image, are an original new reading of Nietzsche’s energy knots. Every potential reading of an image is a different arrangement of these nodes in the text. All possible interpretations are programmed as it were by the limits of the image.