Reading Flusser

The article “The Protreptic Writer” is now available the special issue of Flusser Studies on the theme Flusser as a writer.  In it,  I try to share my own experience of reading Flusser — an experience of being persuaded, taught, in a sense, praised and criticized by turns and led, in a rough circle, from question to answer.  In the article, I argue for the value of examining Flusser’s rhetorical devices, or patterns, the ways he characteristically sets about persuading his reader. I’ve focussed on “The Gesture of Smoking a Pipe” as an example, and proposed that it exhibits the characteristic features of protreptic writing, “protreptic” being a term I first came across in Lambert Wiesing’s book The Philosophy of Perception (London: Bloomsbury 2014).  It isn’t really a a genre or form — more like a positioning of the reader in a kind of tacit dialogue with the author.

This approach to Flusser’s writing opens questions about the continuity of such patterns across his very diverse work, ranging from expository essays to autobiography, lecures and fiction — and letters.  it also gives a basis for comparison to other acknowledged protreptic writers, such as Plato, Aristotle or Augustine.

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