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Vilém Flusser’s “Philosophical Fiction”: Science, Creativity and the Encounter with Radical Otherness
Nov 10, 2017 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
A lecture by Erick Felinto (Media Theory, State University of Rio de Janeiro)
Czech philosopher and media theorist Vilém Flusser is probably one of the most overlooked prophets of the “digital revolution,” having achieved only moderate international fame because of his popular 1984 book on photography, Towards a Philosophy of Photography. However, along with the rise of so-called German media theory, Flusser’s work has been recently garnering a great deal of attention. The author, who lived in Brazil for over thirty years and left a prolific work composed in four different languages (Portuguese, German, English and French), is now a significant reference for several monographs in fields as diverse as art studies, media theory, ecology and cultural studies.
The aim of this talk is to introduce one of Flusser’s most ingenuous theoretical constructs, the notion of “philosophical fiction,” developed since the 1960s and central to many of his most experimental writings, such as Vampyroteuthis Infernalis (1989, with Louis Bec) and The History of the Devil (1965). Closely related with much later philosophical musings–for instance, Nick Land’s “hyperstition” or Peter Szendy’s “philosophiction”–Flusser’s philosophical fiction proposes to fray the borders between fiction and reality in order to achieve novel and creative ways to perceive and describe reality. By means of his philosophical fiction, Flusser elaborates an intriguing form of “creative epistemology” that proves to be immensely useful for artistic explorations and cultural theory–especially under the conditions of life in the digital age. After a detailed presentation of Flusser’s notion and its resonances with contemporary theoretical practices, we will focus on the fruitfulness of philosophical fiction for a perspectivization of thinking and the creation of new models of subjectivity, especially in light of the contemporary debates on posthumanism.
Erick Felinto is currently a visiting scholar in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University and holds a professorship in Media Theory at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) since 1999. His research focuses on German media theory and the contribution of Czech-Brazilian author Vilém Flusser to the field of media epistemology. He is currently working on a book about the resonances of Flusser’s notion of “philosophical fiction” with contemporary cultural theories.