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Unknown Territory

To make it clear right from the start: “Nothing is more senile or more disappointing than the prefix ‘neo-’ – that is the unforgettable lesson of the ‘New Germany.’” (Bodenlos, 1992, p. 65; translated from the German).

This statement presumably applies, mutatis mutandis, to the new media as well. In the process, the term “unknown territory,” interpreted as “no territory” (οὐ-τόπος), asVilém Flusser’s Bodenlosigkeit [no firm ground], takes on for the first time an openness to the new: “One was more conscious of having no firm ground than others were, and hence was also more open to Brazilian soil than they.” (ibid., p. 42; translated from the German).

Flusser retained his curiosity in his situation of being cast down, his “thrownness,” between countries and continents. His biographical movements were always “neogeographic” as well: Prague, London; Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, USA (“New World”); Robion, “Germania,” Prague, and Jerusalem.

Flusser’s thought with no firm ground is thought that explores unknown intellectual territory. Every text, every conversation throws up something new and surprising. This is also the reason why Flusser balked at the marketing prefix “neo-” for it implies wanting to purchase something that had been imposed. Flusser’s “neo-” by contrast, is the condition of living on no firm ground and is a crucial aspect of his fundamental mode of thinking.

However, the dialectic of Bodenlosigkeit, of having no firm ground, on the one hand, and grounding and landing, on the other, retains its tension. Seeing everything as unknown territory can be a curse, a stigma that is difficult to bear: “You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the Earth.” (Genesis 4:12) Vilem Flusser knew all about the mark of Cain and always being obliged to confront yet another new country.

Original article by Konstantin Daniel Haensch in Flusseriana

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unknown_territory.txt · Last modified: 2023/04/13 16:28 by steffi_winkler