One of the most interesting aspects of Deleuze’s cinema books is his break with any notion of consciousness as a light that illuminates objects otherwise relegated to darkness. L’IMAGE-MOUVEMENT is quite clear on this point:
“It is things that are shining in themselves, without anything to illuminate them.” (p89, my translation).
This is why Deleuze claims that Bergson made a more revolutionary leap than the phenomenologists. For Bergson all things are shining, and our consciousness is a secondary formation, the constitution of an opacity that stops or reflects, and so reveals, a light that was already there.
So the contrast is not between a luminous time when things were shining and a dark nihilist time when things shine no more. Things are always shining, but the important thing is how they shine, what in his book on Foucault Deleuze calls the different régimes of visibility.
“Visibilities are not forms of objects, nor even forms that would show up under light, but rather forms of luminosity which are created by the light itself and allow a thing or object to exist only as a flash, sparkle or shimmer”. (FOUCAULT, p45)
Things are more or less congealed or stratified assemblages of light (or matter or movement or force), but the regimes of saying and showing, of visibility and sayability are historically variable. Deleuze adds in the cinema books that they vary from one creator to another, insofar as they can be assigned to different regimes of signs. From this point of view, there is no room for the grand narrative of decline that would go from the shining things of the Homeric Greeks to the dark times of technological nihilism.