In keeping with a robust twentieth-century tradition that runs from H.G. Wells to André Leroi-Gourhan to Vilém Flusser himself, both in terms of apparatus and anthropologically Flusser assumes that cataloguing expanding mnemonic capacity in the form of archives can be perfected without any problems and will be constantly improved and continuously mechanized. Humans are animals that have developed the knack of stockpiling the information they acquire. They have also invented tricks for differentiating the stockpile, creating classifications, attaching notes and records, elaborating lists and tables, systems and structures. The animal that stockpiles the memorable and memory-relevant is a semiotic creature as well, which has, by nature, no other choice but to invent such points of reference.
Because communication is counterfactual, anti- or unnatural, memory occupies a key position in Flusser’s communicological anthropology, though he makes little effort to distinguish between memory and memories. Even today, when our cultural and genetic memories have been transformed by electronic memory devices, our stored reserves can still only be accessed through living, ever-active appropriation, in dialogue and polylogue – or in other words, closer to Flusser’s own, in play and storytelling. Thus the human being is transformed precisely in proportion to the mechanization of memory – becoming not what Günther Anders condemned as a merely “cohistorical being” (Anders, Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen, vol. 2, 1980, p. 9; translated from the German), but a genuine homo ludens, who “translates” waste of information into overexpenditures of poetry, thereby disposing of it a second time. Johan Huizinga’s famous book Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, originally published in 1938, was attentively studied by Flusser.
Original article by Hans Ulrich Reck in Flusseriana