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Vilém Flusser declines his concepts – “models” of time, in his words – following his media paradigms. Thus, for those writing with historical consciousness, the referent is linear time. It ows from the past into the future – in a torrent that “sweeps all things along with it” (Krise der Linearität, 1992, p. 17; translated from the German). During prehistory, when images predominated, time still circled futurelessly in eternal recurrence. Following a gradual process of abstraction, the post-historical universe of dots introduces a future that is an adventure awaiting us, an inundation of possibilities.

Had Flusser, the translator and juggler of languages and media practices, lived to see his future – the 1990s and the start of the twenty-first century – and, with it, the first peaks in the futures market, he would have found an opening, playing off Thales of Miletus and his futures trading, to consider the origins of philosophy and its commingling with economics in its human- despising aspect. Speculative commodity trading causes food prices to rise, driving millions into poverty and many of those millions into starvation.

Through the voids of the possibilities realized in the Flusserian future – the advent, the adventure – death can be seen. Visible therein is the other and what Flusser calls responsibility. Futures, on the other hand, reveal that the wealth of inundant possibilities shall remain denied to the other. By contrast, the gaps between, in which death is realized with painful ubiquity, are enormous.

One of Flusser’s contemporaries, Emmanuel Levinas, another thinker in the diaspora, described the future as “[…] what is not grasped, what befalls us […]. The other is the future.” (Levinas, Time and the Other, 1987, p. 77) In his own future, Flusser would have called for philosophy to take a step back from speculative narcissism, for a philosophy that does not squander itself as an end in itself, but rather fulfills its responsibility to make the future of the other possible.

Original article by Silvia Wagnermaier

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future.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/05 17:47 by