Apocalyptic Imagination and the Silence of the Elements

  • Ted ToadvineEmail author


Contemporary cosmic imagination takes an apocalyptic turn away from the harmonious cosmic reverie described by Bachelard, instead envisioning the imperceptible toxification and elemental dissolution of the world. In parallel, phenomenology’s confrontation with the annihilation of the world leads it to recognize a moment of death that haunts every lived experience as its immemorial past. Tracing the moment of the world’s withdrawal through Merleau-Ponty, Cézanne, Deleuze, Levinas, and Sallis, we see that this immemorial past is associated with a prehuman level of sensation that opens onto the silent materiality of the elements. Investigating sensation at the limits of perception, elements at the limit of the world, and art at the limits of representation allows us to reconfigure Bachelard’s cosmic imagination in the wake of the apocalyptic turn. This reveals that apocalyptic imagination is not merely a contemporary response to our technological and environmental context but rather an intensification of nature’s own fundamental duplicity.


Apocalypse Art Elements Imagination Nature Toxicity Bachelard Cézanne Levinas Merleau Ponty 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OregonEugeneUSA

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