Deleuze and the Cinematization of Schelling (Modified)

contour volcano

In his discussion of Francis Bacon, Deleuze sets up the image of the contour as a sticking point to catastrophe threatening to submerge the whole or a landscape. The goal is to save the contour by creating a space for catastrophe to settle in, as in Bacon’s catastrophe-painting where ‘stubborn geologic lines’ are rather enabled to bring out their readiness to embrace chaos, albeit, in a controlled space such as a painting. In Schelling’s case, these geologic lines would qualify as the very ‘will of the deep,’ an ‘expression of geological potencies in practical intelligence.’ Yet this somehow inverts the function of contour in Deleuze: instead of abstract expressionism, the will of the deep signifies the transcendentalism of nature.

Nonetheless, both accounts of catastrophe may actually complement one another. If the Deleuzian contour is the place of double exchange between the limit and the refiguration of the limit to absorb catastrophe, the Schellingian abyss points to a veritable space of freedom even as the ground (or earth) is embracing the very ungrounding of the will of the deep threatening to unground freedom at a most critical stage. But while the stage is yet to absorb the full extent of geological catastrophe, contours can serve as moving images of the abyss of freedom in the sense that they problematize the relation of freedom to the ground of nature, supposedly contracting to species-extinction, in the same manner


action is problematized (in Deleuze) in a moving image such as the cinema. We can take the cinema to mean the moving image of freedom threatened by the ungrounding of the will itself facing extinction.

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