For Vilém Flusser, Martin Heidegger’s Being and
Time (German original 1927), The Principle of
Reason (German original 1956), and On the Way
to Language (German original 1959) were most welcome,
both terminologically and philosophically, as tools for overcoming the (distressing) intellectual
and personal/existential experience of life’s
“thrownness” (Geworfenheit), and for transforming
it into an attitude of active “projection” (Entwerfen).
In doing so, Flusser connects both with
Heidegger’s existential analysis of Dasein as a
concernful being-in-the-world (In-der-Welt-Sein)
and with the concept of being-towards-death
(Sein-zum-Tode) as a becoming manifest of Dasein’s
ground- and bottomlessness.
As mere “chatter,” language serves to further harden the misapprehension of being (“fallenness to the ‘they’ [Man],” “forgetfulness of being” [Seinsvergessenheit]), yet at the same time it has the capacity, through the poetic “networking” of the world, to transform the authenticity of Dasein’s being – that is, nothing and death – into a creative expression of playful freedom. Thus for Flusser, language conceals the ontological nullity of human existence while at the same time attesting to it, putting it to productive use, and taking it up as an artistic theme. Because of this ambivalence, the task of translating between languages brings to light the linguistic-ontological relativity of human interpretations of the world upon the groundless ground of bottomlessness (Bodenlosigkeit). Flusser prizes the poetological mysticism of Heidegger’s later philosophy of language, while rejecting its ontologizing etymologism of German and Greek as inimical to translation.
Original article by Matthias Kroß