This article traces the journey of two Chinese concepts, qi(氣) and li(理), from the brushstrokes of ancient Chinese paintings to Deleuze’s philosophy of the cinema. Interestingly, these abstract concepts take a concrete form when translated into French. As we can see through François Cheng’s translation, qi turns into “souffles vitaux” (vital breaths), and li turns into “ligne d’univers” (line of universe). Henri Maldiney, a French phenomenological aesthetician, employs these Chinese concepts in order to develop an “aesthetics of rhythms” that focuses on the process itself in the artistic creation rather than its result. Thus, Maldiney’s aesthetics values the Chinese brush and its dynamic movement in East Asian art. These concepts allowed Deleuze to reformulate two forms of the action-image, namely the “big form” and the “small form,” in assigning the two East Asian concepts to them. He used these concepts to explain the structure of Japanese films, namely those of Kurosawa and Mizoguchi.


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pp. 67-91
Launched on MUSE
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