The Thinking Machine #49

The Burning House

In their series The Thinking Machine, critics Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin create a new video essay for De Filmkrant every month.

In late 2020, thoroughly depressed by pandemic conditions, the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben mused on the world as a dwelling in flames: “How long has the house been burning? How long since it burned down? We ought to ask ourselves how we could continue to live and think while everything burned”. Likewise, the Czech-born film critic and poet Petr Král (1941-2020) considered the burning home as both an urgent cataclysm and a calm fact of existence: “The destruction of the house lays the foundations for the future on this loss”. Cinema is an integral part of any reflection on what Gaston Bachelard called the “poetics of fire”.