The abysses of the deep sea and their secrets have always been a treasure trove of myths and metaphors for poets and thinkers. Fables in which giant squid and octopuses feature as monsters run through the entire history of literature and culture. The ways of overcoming the straits of human consciousness are many and diverse. In Vilém Flusser’s writing, the thought experiment is the concrete mode for opening up surprising new perspectives on reality or the world. In this way he arrives at a point beyond which the natural scientist ceases to research. Accompanied by artworks of Louis Bec, the inventor and “chairman” of the fictive Institut Scientifique de Recherche Paranaturaliste, Flusser “slipped” into the skin of a vampire squid – the closest relative of the octopus’s earliest ancestor, which is still in many respects one of the most interesting members of the Cephalopoda, albeit one of the smaller ones.
In Flusser’s version, this mollusk intervenes actively and conspiratorially in its surroundings by out maneuvering others with technical tricks and a deceptive appearance. The squid actually constructs aporias in order to entangle its prey in them. Flusser wrote of “a culture of deceit, pretense, and falsehood” (Vampyroteuthis Infernalis, 2012, p. 53), which the philosopher compared to the most recent developments of a human mol- lusk strategy (software) or immaterial art.
Flusser thus inverted the perspective between human being and animal by describing how an animal looks at a human being. A small phylogenetic relict thus becomes the master of the fiction, the model of a fabulist, creative epistemology and at the same time the symbol of the human condition under postmodernism. The text Vampyroteuthis Infernalis (2011–2012) is deliberately provocative in its formulations in order to stimulate thinking about the present and the future.
Original article by Paola Bozzi