Rok Benčin: Cuts in the »Universal Undulation«

Deleuze, Badiou and the (Anti)Representational Event(s)


Gilles Deleuze claimed that modern thought is “born of the failure of representation”. This failure, however, is not the failure of the act of representation, unable to produce the image of reality. It is reality itself that is constructed according to the principles of representation. The task of a modern philosopher is therefore to trace the events in which the forces at work beneath the representational construction of reality come to the fore. In cinema, this reveals “a world of universal variation, of universal undulation, universal rippling”. Deleuze’s concept of »image-movement« is not merely a philosophical contribution to film theory but also a piece in the great ontological puzzle.

Intriguingly, the other great ontologist among the contemporary French philosophers, Alain Badiou, denies the ontological dimension of cinema: “After all, cinema is nothing but takes and editing.” In the cinematographic image, “movement is held up, suspended, inverted, arrested”. In other words, there is no »universal undulation« escaping the grip of representation, there are only »cuts« in the visible. How, then, does the philosopher of »Being and Event« define the truth of cinema?

This paper will critically explore the ontological stakes in Deleuze’s and Badiou’s thinking of cinema and how a cinematographic event can be defined through the opposition of the real and the representational construction of reality.