Vilém Flusser uses the term “to publish” for making public what had previously been conceived and drafted only in private. The public-private pairing refers to the philosopher’s ontology, according to which something is public if it can be communicated in a language, which is understood as a symbolic intersubjective structure that takes the individual out of solipsism. The act of publishing essentially consists in transforming thoughts into a symbolic structure that allows intersubjective communication.
Publishing arises from a certain need. Thoughts not only go beyond the boundaries of communication in natural languages, they also go beyond the boundaries of what can be communicated. The private, which as yet cannot be communicated, needs to be transformed into some kind of language, into symbols that enable a relationship with the other. This can take place at different levels, from the publication based on interpretation to artistic practice.
In the first scenario, the individual expands the field of what can be discussed to increase the possibilities of comprehending an epistemic thing. In the second case, the individual creates reality by creating language; this means that he or she expands the field not only of what can be discussed but also of what can be thought. Therefore, publishing is a poietic action.
In his essay “A Arte: o Belo e o Agradável” [Art: The Beautiful and the Pleasant] (in: Revista ArteFilosofia, no. 11, 2011), Flusser emphasizes that art is the capacity to publish what is private: this does not only mean communicating individual impressions – this would actually be rather tiresome. Publishing what is private implies develop- ing models of thinking, and structuring a new form for perceiving certain things. Therefore, publishing distinguishes man from animals and machines; it is a creative activity.
Original article by Rachel Costa