©2015 Metaflux Publishing


The Surprising Phenomenon of Human Communication

by Vilém Flusser
Edited by Rodrigo Maltez Novaes
210mm x 148mm
Design by Chagrin
ISBN 978 0 9933272 5 4
05 February 2016
Metaflux // Vilém Flusser


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Originally written in both English and French, The Surprising Phenomenon of Human Communication is a series of twelve essays that Vilém Flusser delivered as lectures in Aix-en-Provence, France, on several subjects ranging from communication media, memory, symbols, meaning, models, art, cybernetics, the Bible, and Brigitte Bardot.

Although written in 1975, this early phenomenological study of changing aesthetic, ethical, and epistemological models, and of the current fundamental revolution in the structure of human communication, is a visionary and provocative polemic that can help us understand, or at least, gain a better view of what is happening in the world around us today: big data, centralised media power, mass media conglomerates, political aesthetics etc.

Unpublished for almost forty years, The Surprising Phenomenon of Human Communication, now published for the first time, edited from Vilém Flusser’s original English typescript, is not only an important work from the author’s mid career, just before the development of his seminal theories on technical images and technical imagination, it also forms a continuous link with his other titles of the same period: Natural:Mind, Gestures, Mutation in Human Relations, Post-History, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, and Towards a Philosophy of Photography.


Editor's Note
The Surprising Phenomenon of Human Communication
From Information To Decision
Communication Media
Symbols And Their Meaning
From Scientific Discourse To Demagogy
From Family Dialogue To The Telephone
Learning To Understand
Fashion // From The Bible To Bardot
Art // The Beautiful And The Nice
The Avant-Garde And Closed Circuit Communication
Alienation And Stereotype


The philosopher Vilém Flusser was born in Prague in 1920 but emigrated to Brazil, fleeing from Nazi persecution, at the outbreak of war in 1939, arriving in Rio de Janeiro at the end of 1940, with his wife and parents-in-law, after a short stay in London. The Flussers settled in São Paulo during the 1940s, where they lived for thirty-two years. In the early years of the 1970s they moved back to Europe, settling first in Italy, and subsequently in Robion, France, where they lived until Vilém Flusser’s untimely death in 1991 after a car crash, as he left Prague at the end of a symposium.

During the years he lived in Brazil, Flusser wrote for several Brazilian periodicals and taught at different academic institutions, among them, the University of São Paulo, the Brazilian Institute of Philosophy, and the Institute of Technology and Aeronautics. His first two books, Lingua e Realidade and A História do Diabo, were published in Brazil during the 1960s. In the late 1970s, and throughout the 1980s, Flusser travelled most of Europe lecturing and participating in conferences and symposia, during which time he published his most well-known titles. He came to prominence in the field of Media Theory after publishing his seminal book Towards a Philosophy of Photography in 1984, shortly followed by Ins Universum der Technischen Bilder in 1985, and Die Schrift. Hat Schreiben Zukunft? in 1987.

As a polyglot, Flusser wrote in four different languages, German, Portuguese, English, and French. The Metaflux // Vilém Flusser collection aims to present to an international readership, high quality translations of Flusser’s Brazilian writings, including courses, monographs, essays, and letters, as well as works originally written in English by the author.

The Metaflux // Vilém Flusser collection is possible due to the generous support of Miguel Gustavo Flusser.