The word “script” plays an essential role inVilém Flusser’s thinking and significantly shapes his concepts of the image, technology, communication, and memory. Acting like a pivot, script determines the historical process which Flusser divides into three forms of communication: traditional images correspond to prehistory, script corresponds to history, and technical images correspond to post-history. Thus script is at the very heart of the process for critiquing worship of the universe of traditional images, while at the same time it is the basis of all technical images. Versed in Hebrew, a language in which letters and numbers are represented by the same signs, Flusser defines our contemporary society as alphanumeric.
Differentiation between letters and numbers describes two ways of thinking and acting: letters produce discourse, and numbers relate to situations. Modern science is gradually replacing discourses, and it establishes the ongoing digitization of the world, turning discourses (arts, religion, politics) into relationships between humans and machines. The many historical forms of script inscribe discourses on the world and prescribe processes and programs. So, whereas the first writers encoded trade and religion, followed by poets and philosophers who described moral behavior and knowledge, today’s writers encode apparatuses, which, in turn, program ways of acting and thinking.
Without ignoring the literary concept of script, in Does Writing Have a Future? (2011) Flusser describes its forms and networks (for instance, the writer–publisher–book–reader network). In his texts, Flusser often describes his own writing process as translation: translation between the many languages he spoke, but also between thought and script communicated by the voice. Interestingly, Flusser’s thoughts about script are not influenced by the many seminal works on the subject, for instance, by Jacques Derrida (Of Grammatology, French original 1967), Michel Foucault (“The Discourse on Language,” in: The Archaeology of Knowledge, French original 1971), and Friedrich Kittler (Discourse Networks 1800/1900, German original 1985), yet nevertheless they enrich his perspective.
Original article by Adalberto Müller