CCANESA / Classics and Ancient History seminar: “Deleuze’s crystal images in Homer’s Odyssey”
Ben Ferris | The University of Sydney
“Deleuze’s crystal images in Homer’s Odyssey”
French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) developed his understanding of Time by applying Henri Bergson’s ideas to the medium of cinema. One result of such a formulation of thought are Deleuze’s “crystal images” which conceive of Time operating like light through a crystal, simultaneously refracting into multiple parallel images, each one being as true as the other. In this conception, Time is not linear, but, rather, folding in upon itself, consists of simultaneous pasts, presents and futures. While Deleuze’s thinking has had some radical consequences for the study of cinema, it has only made a very recent entry into the field of Classics. My thesis proposes that Deleuzean thinking is particularly useful in how we can think about Homeric epic, and especially the Odyssey, with its radical temporalities and “indeterminacies.” It is possible, through Deleuze, to reconsider Homeric “multiforms” as self-conscious poetic expression of the contradictions inherent in an unstable universe. By way of example, I explore how the films of Alain Resnais, which are central to Deleuze’s thinking about the “crystal image” and which eschew mainstream narrative (and chronological) conventions, can be read productively alongside Homer’s Odyssey as forms of expression that seek to grapple poetically with some of the primal, invisible forces underlying the universe we inhabit.
Ben Ferris is a film writer, director and producer. His films have screened and won major awards at film festivals internationally, including Sydney Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and London Film Festival. He is currently a producer at Breathless Films, and a board member of Documentary Australia. He was Founder and Director of the Sydney Film School 2004-2018. His lifelong love of the classics, instilled in him by his former supervisor Professor Kevin Lee at the University of Sydney, infuses his work, and most obviously Penelopa, a 2009 Croatian-Australian feature film adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey, set against the backdrop of the 1990s Balkan wars. He is currently writing a PhD at the University of Sydney with the working title Deleuze’s “crystal images” in Homer’s Odyssey, under the supervisory triumvirate of Dr Robert Cowan, Dr Benjamin Brown and Dr Tamara Neale.
31 March 4:00pm (AEDT/UTC+10)
The Zoom link – All papers this semester will be presented via Zoom online. Details of each Zoom session will be posted out approximately one week prior to the presentation date.
The Department of Classics and Ancient History is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).
Image:Achilles fights the River Scamander’ (Date unknown) |Alexander Runciman (1736-85) Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Creative Commons)