No Firm Ground
Vilém Flusser formulated a radical understanding of migration. It departed from any notion of “rootedness”. The autochthony or closeness to the soil of rural residents of the Sertão region of northeastern Brazil, or the orientation on an abstract idea of a Brazilian culture or nation were options that did not come into question for Flusser after he left Brazil in 1972. Even the temptation to set up the house of being in a language did not open up any perspectives for Flusser.
That left the neo-Kantian preoccupation with the vehicles for experiencing the world, but these were no longer limited to the diversities of language, as they were in the work of Wilhelm von Humboldt, but had been relativized by the symbolic practices of mathematics as well as of film, photography, and video. Flusser could not and did not want to settle permanently in any one vehicle, as if on a houseboat or in the movable tent of a Mongolian ruler. When he spoke or wrote, he was using these vehicles of experience much like Phileas Fogg, who burned the wooden structures on his ship in its boiler to power his vessel as he stormed around the world in eighty days. In a state of no firm ground (Bodenlosigkeit), Flusser did not give primacy to any praxis of signs or any of the arts, even though he recognized the trend toward the mathematization of all realms of life and hence to technocracy. Yet at the same time, the writer Flusser did commit himself to writing as a dying form. That was a declaration of faith in a practice which was changing catastrophically. It offered no place to stay but it did permit a mode of experience, of tracking down, that rendered living intensely possible, and that was prepared for radical changes as condition.