This paper will revisit the question of the pertinence and critical applicability of basic concepts of European film theory, and especially Gilles Deleuze’s notion of the cinematic time-image, in the age of global electronic media. It will be argued that the Deleuzean rationale of the mutually reversible cinematic time-image is highly relevant for coming to grips with the experience of immersive virtual worlds and global electronic networks. The paper will establish links between the tradition of European film theory, including Deleuze’s cine-philosophy, and post-Kantian continental philosophy and philosophical aesthetics, which advocate a reflexive production of reality and the lack of an ultimate referent. The paper aims to show that the crystalline aesthetic through which cinema offers a direct presentation of the indiscernibility between real and imaginary, actual and virtual, is not only a continuation of the Kantian rationale of aesthetic reflection, but it also constitutes a reaction avant la lettre to today’s digitally (in)formed and increasingly self-enclosed, self-referential, and one-dimensional reality.
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