The History of the DevileBook - 2014
In 1939, a young Vilem Flusser faced the Nazi invasion of his hometown of Prague. He escaped with his wife to Brazil, taking with him only two books: a small Jewish prayer book and Goethe s "Faust." Twenty-six years later, in 1965, Flusser would publish "The History of the Devil," and it is the essence of those two books that haunts his own. From that time his life as a philosopher was born. While Flusser would later garner attention in Europe and elsewhere as a thinker of media culture, "The History of the Devil" is considered by many to be his first significant work, containing nascent forms of the main themes that would come to preoccupy him over the following decades.
In "The History of the Devil," Flusser frames the human situation from a pseudo-religious point of view. The phenomenal world, or reality in a general sense, is identified as the Devil, and that which transcends phenomena, or the philosophers and theologians reality, is identified as God. Referencing Wittgenstein s "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" in its structure, Flusser provocatively leads the reader through an existential exploration of nothingness as the bedrock of reality, where phenomenon and transcendence, Devil and God become fused and confused. So radically confused, in fact, that Flusser suggests we abandon the quotation marks from the terms Devil and God. At this moment of abysmal confusion, we must make the existential decisions that give direction to our lives.