Michelangelo, Leibniz and the Serpentine Figure
Deleuze Studies p. 1- 13
Abstract In his lectures from 1987, Deleuze draws an analogy between Michelangelo‟s figures and Leibnizian substances by claiming that neither are essences but rather sources of modifications or manners of being. The best way to explore this analogy, I argue, is by focusing on Michelangelo‟s preference for serpentine shapes. By putting key passages from The Logic of Sensation, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque and What is Philosophy? in resonance with the Leibnizian accounts of corporeal aggregates and possible worlds on the one hand and art history on the other, I will try to develop a Deleuzian concept for the typically mannerist ideal of the serpentine figure. Although Deleuze usually prefers to speak in musical terms of refrains and counterpoints by which various blocs of sensation resonate with each other, in the visual arts it is the serpentine figure that renders visible sensory becoming as a rhythmic counter-positioning of possible worlds within a single body without organs.