Lessons of Darkness, or Apocalypse as Geophilosophy

Andrew Culp (California Institute of the Arts)


What does it mean to think the end of the world? Disaster films race against the clock. Post-apocalyptic films explore the value of life. Disaster documentaries account for what happened. In this talk, media theorist Andrew Culp uses Werner Herzog’s 1992 film Lessons of Darkness to offer a different approach to cataclysmic events. He argues through Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s geophiloosophy that apocalyptic images of the earth are another way to philosophize with a hammer. As such, every entry into apocalyptic cinema offers its own geology of morals – some territorialize the decisive judgement of fear, distrust, and austerity, while others turn their back on the world to summon forth a new people and a new earth. Using Lessons of Darkness and other films as his guide, he traces utopian lines drawn in the space of apocalypse.

Andrew Culp is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Aesthetics and Politics at California Institute of the Arts. He is the author of Dark Deleuze (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), and has published articles and interviews in boundary 2, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, parallax, Angelaki, Affinities, and Radical Philosophy. He is currently working on a book project entitled Persona Obscura.