Vilém Flusser saw his escape from Prague as “the collapse of the universe,” accompanied by a “sense of vertigo resulting from my liberation and newfound freedom” (“Taking Up Residence in Homelessness,” in: Writings, 2002, p. 93). He saw this break of the ties holding him to Prague as an opportunity to break free from a sedentary life and throw himself into nomadism. Distancing himself from his homeland also served as a laboratory from which he could criticize its original structuring elements. Among them, Flusser refers to a “fetal,” “unarticulated memory,” which connects people to their Heimat [homeland, home country, native country, spiritual home] and is one of the most powerful causes of prejudice and violence.
The chapter “Wohnung beziehen in der Heimatlosigkeit” [Taking Up Residence in Homelessness] in the book Bodenlos [No Firm Ground] (1992), as well as “Taking Up Residence in Homelessness” in his Writings, are the texts in which Flusser further elaborates his philosophy about exile. He says that we worship our homeland because of the sedentary lifestyle we have due to the invention of agriculture. In this transition from nomadism to a sedentary life, we would also have learned how to subjugate women. However, for him, all of this was abandoned and left behind with the postindustrial and post-historical society. The millions of emigrants should no longer be considered as outsiders, but rather as pioneers of the future (“Taking Up Residence in Homelessness,” p. 92).
He sees the traveller as a homo ludens, someone who ventures, who takes chances, but, at the same time, fully experiences his freedom. He connects fahren [traveling], erfahren [experiencing], and Gefahr laufen [taking risks] (from the Latin ex-periri).This mobile human being would be the answer to the unhappy consciousness that Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel identified in modern man, divided in a dialectical manner, with no way out, between the private and the public sphere. For Flusser, the post-historical man would be capable of leaving that sadness behind and turning it into happiness by engaging with the world. In his essay “Exile and Creativity” he describes the expellee as the first person who notices that the human being is not a tree: He discovers that “human dignity may consist precisely in not having roots” (“Exile and Creativity,” in: The Freedom of the Migrant, 2003, p. 84).
Original article by Márcio Seligmann-Silva