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Mediterranean Sea

Rivers and seas should be viewed not as dividing or separating, but as uniting. This is how Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, in his Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, dened what he regarded as one of history’s main geographical foundations. He was referring to the Mediterraneum. It was the only sea he knew, and that only from books. For the three continents that meet in the Old World, the Mediterranean is not only the uniter but also the “focus […] of world history” (Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, 1980, p. 171). For Hegel, the Mediterranean is “the heart of the Old World, its conditioning and vitalizing principle” (ibid.). Without the Mediterraneum, world history would be unimaginable; it would be like ancient Rome or Athens without the forum where everything came together. Since technological processes of mediation always involve a reduction of complexity in favor of functionality, they generally entail standardizations, equalizations. The force of historical context becomes a legitimation of the homogenization that produces equilibria and, ultimately, harmony. In the Platonic potential space of logical objects, the metaphor of the sea, as a conceptual image, is intimately linked to the idea of the ship of state.

At the beginning of a 1986 lecture given within view of the “dazzling and well-articulated Bay of Naples,” Flusser quoted the Roman statesman Cicero: “Omnia mea mecum porto [All that is mine I carry with me] and the Mediterranean Sea is mare meum.” (Zielinski, in: “Mittel und Meere (Means & Seas),” in: Variantology 5, 2011, p. 246) “I cannot assume a position of existential distance to the Mediterranean Sea and the axes that run through it, because owing to […] cultural heritage, and due to the fact that I am Jewish, I carry the legacy of the Mediterranean within me.” (ibid.) In a play on the sea’s German name, Mittelmeer (literally, “middle sea,” but Mittel also means “means”), the lecture was titled “Mittel und Meere” [Means and Seas]. In the most concise form possible, Flusser articulated his hope that media, as geophilosophical projection, could bring about peace. Strangely enough, in his theory of communication he did not consider the oceanic, which smashes and separates territories, and which he knew very well from Brazil.

Original article by Siegfried Zielinski

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mediterranean_sea.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/05 17:47 (external edit)