“The new man, who is appearing before us within our surroundings and ourselves, will have no hands; his hands will waste away. He will not handle objects. He will not work, he will have no ‘praxis.’ The only part of the hands that will survive are the fingertips. The new man will press keys with them in order to arrange, rearrange, and destroy symbols in information systems. The new man will not be an actor: there will no longer be an act, an action, an activity. He will be a player: there will be a strategy, a project, a program. He will no longer act, but rather decide. ‘Homo ludens,’ and no longer ‘Homo faber.’ His life will no longer be a ‘drama,’ but rather a ‘show.’ His life purpose will no longer be to act and to have, but rather to know, to live, and to enjoy. Because the new man will not be interested in objects, he will not have problems. Instead of problems, he will have pro-grams. He will exist not to solve problems, but to create programs. This is a fantastic perspective – and yet it is already becoming true.” (Do Inobjeto, n.d., n.p.; translated from the Portuguese).
In this excerpt from an essay written in the 1980s, Do Inobjeto [On the Non-Thing], Vilém Flusser presents the “new man” as homo ludens, who he had announced in the 1970s when in his Fenomenologia do Brasileiro [Phenomenology of the Brazilian] he seemed determined to find this philosophical category: a human who “overcomes history and transforms himself into a place where history is creatively absorbed” (Fenomenologia do Brasileiro, 1998, p. 54, translated from the Portuguese). Flusser wrote that the electrifying originality and creativity in Brazil were better articulated in culture than in the economy, because “[…] culture absorbs and engages the best Brazilian citizens, as opposed to politics, for instance […]. Thus, engaging with culture in Brazil means engaging in what is most essential and most significant for the future. The new man will emerge in culture – or he will not emerge at all.” (ibid., p. 111; translated from the Portuguese) Flusser’s projects for the São Paulo Biennial in the 1970s and 1980s reveal themselves as a bet in which he offers a new type of game and lays all his cards on the table. Flusser’s intention was to integrate Brazil in the international scene, turning the “periphery” into a role model for the entire world. The philosopher plays the new man: this is homo ludens, who has been evolving since the 1930s after the work of Johan Huizinga – and, above all, following Georges Bataille and Roger Caillois – as a concept directed against the insanity of productivity.