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Does Writing Have a Future?$
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Vilém Flusser

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816670222

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816670222.001.0001

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(p.87) Deciphering
Does Writing Have a Future?

Vilém Flusser

Mark Poster

Nancy Ann Roth

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter reflects on deciphering in relation to reading and writing. The word “cipher” comes from the Arabic sifr (empty). The words “chiffre” and “zero” are derivatives as well. It is not necessary to understand set theory to know that numbers are empty containers meant to peck out quantities of something. Before reading a piece of writing, one must know what code it uses. One must decode it first, before one starts to decipher it. A code is a numerical system with rules that govern the relationships between numbers. Pieces of writing are directed at the decoder. The writer reaches his hand out toward the other to reach a decoder. His political gesture of writing goes out not to people in general but to take hold of a decoder. As a result, decoding and encoding, reading and writing, should be divided into categories.

Keywords:   deciphering, writing, numbers, reading, code, decoding, encoding

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