Ahumanism, art, vampyroteuthis infernalis, and you: An animal act by vilém flusser and louis bec

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This article explicates Vilém Flusser and Louis Bec’s thought experiment Vampyroteuthis infernalis. Eine Abhandlung samt Befund des Institut Scientifique de Recherche Para-naturaliste (1987) in the context of zoose-miotics, ethology, and Flusser’s broader philosophical inquiries into culture, nature, and art. Flusser chooses to mind-read and ventriloquize the vampire squid, a cephalopod who inhabits an aphotic world of complete darkness and isolation from humans. Flusser makes the squid an actant in his complex fable that plays against an environmental literature that attributes emotions and consciousness to animals, but only rarely to invertebrates who disgust humans due to their distance in evolutionary branching. Why, Flusser asks implicitly, do we exclude from such theory-of-mind considerations those as-pects of human consciousness responsible for amoral, ahuman phenomena such as Auschwitz and nuclear weaponry? What corresponding phenomena for these can we posit in the animal mind? The result is a reconsideration of the function of art, culture, and communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-393
Number of pages17
JournalColloquia Germanica
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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