Vampyroteuthis infernalis is a sentient creature that apprehends everything – that is, it philosophizes everything – by means of its “sexually laden” tentacles (Vampyroteuthis Infernalis, 2012, p. 47). Unlike human history, which can be explained “in terms of the repression of sexuality for fear of the female” (ibid., p. 50), Vilém Flusser’s fantastic figure represents a model of the world in which sensuality is lived to excess. From the perspective of this alternative reality in which philosophizing is synonymous with mating, human contemplation, with its roots in “human reason, which slices and dissects” (ibid., p. 48), is ridiculed, and the Western history to which it has given rise is pronounced “an utter failure” (ibid., p. 50).
In his book Vampyroteuthis Infernalis (2011–2012) – as a logical sequel to his post-history, which ends with a call for the repressed other within us to rescue us from “robotization” in a programmed world – Flusser focuses on a model in which love is realized without restrictions. This, however, contains a flagrant paradox. In this world seemingly filled with love, a world of death opens up. Flusser portrays Vampyroteuthis as the most warlike of all living things, eating everything out of sensuality, including its own anus. This recalls Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling’s description of the world before God in his unfinished work The Ages of the World (begun circa 1810/1811): “a chaotic, contradictory condition in the divine nature” (Schelling, The Ages of the World, 1942, p. 142).
The difficulty of combining Western reason with vampyroteuthic sensuality is illustrated by Flusser’s remark that “[t]he Reichian model is […] far better suited for [Vampyroteuthis] than it is for humans” (Vampyroteuthis Infernalis, 2012, p. 29). Against the reinstatement of sensuality as salvation from the stupidity of programmed devices, Flusser holds up, in the form of Vampyroteuthis, the danger of unbridled excess, because although Westerners may know much about the way to lead a sensual life, they are “neither willing nor able to give themselves up to the experience” (Die Geschichte des Teufels, 2006, p. 36; translated from the German) 1).
The synthesis Flusser presents here is in no way a chimera, but rather the continuation of a tradition which, though solidly anchored in theWest, has been discontinued because of the repression of sex. Flusser’s engagement with biology and his image of protoplasm as the basic element of life recall Lucretius, whose thinking had almost no influence on the sciences in the modern era. In Flusser’s work, what Lucretius was actually advocating – reconciliation of our knowledge of nature with a fearless enjoyment of life in this world – is revived, specifically as a synthesis of science with the humanities via the fusion of rationality with moderate sensuality.
Original article by Kazuhiro Ochi