Vilém Flusser’s relationship to the work of Friedrich Nietzsche was ambivalent. Heavily critical but also deeply influenced by the German philosopher, Flusser went through three distinct phases in his approach to Nietzsche’s oeuvre. He first read Nietzsche’s work as a teenager while still in Prague: the unfolding political events that would lead to the Second World War, and the misappropriation of Nietzsche’s work by the Nazis via his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, colored Flusser’s first impressions of the philosopher’s work negatively, as well as his subsequent readings. However, the discovery of the work of José Ortega y Gasset gave Flusser the chance to re-read Nietzsche a second time, but from a different perspective. His third reading of Nietzsche’s work would come much later, in the 1960s, but this time through the prism of the Brazilian intellectual scene, and especially through the lens of Milton Vargas.
The influence of Nietzsche’s oeuvre on Flusser’s own work is undeniable, and Nietzsche is one of the few philosophers who is often cited and named throughout Flusser’s literary production. Many of the main concepts of Nietzsche’s thought permeate Flusser’s own ideas such as the Übermensch, the Will to Power, the eternal recurrence or eternal return, the transvaluation of all values, and the notion of freedom. Other detectable influences on Flusser’s work are Nietzsche’s literary style and approach to philosophy. Flusser mentions several times his admiration for Nietzsche’s prose style, and cites Thus Spake Zarathustra (German original 1883–1891) as one of his greatest influences, which is evident in works such as The History of the Devil (2014) and Vampyroteuthis Infernalis (2011). It could be said that in its essence, Flusser’s own philosophical project follows similar lines to those of Nietzsche’s project; namely, the critique and revaluation of Western values, which is an indication of the degree and depth of Nietzsche’s influence upon Flusser.
Original article by Rodrigo Maltez Novaes