lines of flight + suicide
- ---- by Rosi BraidottiThe Deleuzian subject is a singular complexity, one that enacts and actualises a radical ethics of transformation. This 'subject' simultaneously rejects individualism and the nihilism of self-destruction. In an ecosophical sense, Deleuze thinks of the subject in terms of a connection, one that takes place between self and others, pushing the subject beyond selfcentred individualism also to include non-humans or the earth itself.On the issue of suicide, Deleuze is as clear as Baruch Spinoza: the choice for self-destruction is not positive, nor can it be said to be free, because death is the destruction of the conatus - defined as the desire to actualise one's power of becoming. Self-preservation, in the sense of a desire for self-expression, constitutes the subject. A conatus cannot freely wish its own self-destruction; if it does, this is because some physical or psychical compulsion negates the subject's freedom. As connectivity and mutual implication are the distinguishing features of an intensive understanding of the subject, dying as such means ceasing to partake in this vital ﬂow of life. Hence, the inter-connectedness of entities means that selfpreservation is a commonly shared concern.Joining forces with others so as to enhance one's enjoyment of life is the key to Deleuzian ethics; it is also the definition of a joyously lived life. The greatest ethical ﬂaw is to succumb to external forces that diminish one's capacity to endure. From this viewpoint, suicide is an unproductive 'black hole'.Deleuze's view of death is far removed from the metaphysics of finitude. Death is neither a matter of absolute closure, nor a border that defines the difference between existing or not existing. Instead, the Deleuzian subject is produced through a multiplicity of connections that unfold in a process of becoming. This affirmative view of life situates philosophical nomadicism in the logic of positivity, rather than in the redemptive economy common to classical metaphysics. What is more is that this vision of deathas-process, or a Nietzschean vision of the 'eternal return', emerges out of Deleuze's philosophy of time: endurance and sustainability.Life is the affirmation of radical immanence. What gets affirmed is the intensity and acceleration of existential speed characteristic of desire or the expression of potentia. The ethics of nomadic subjects asserts the positivity of potentia itself. That is to say, the singularity of the forces that compose the specific spatio-temporal grid of immanence composes one's life. Life is an assemblage, a montage, not a given; it is a set of points in space and time; a quilt of retrieved material. Put simply, for Deleuze what makes one's life unique is the life project, not a deep-seated essence.Commenting on the suicides of Primo Levi and Virginia Woolf, Deleuze who also chose to end his own life - stressed that life can be affirmed by suppressing your own life. This he felt was especially true in the case of failing health or when life is spent in degrading social conditions, both of which seriously cripple one's power to affirm and endure life with joy. We do need to exercise some caution here, though, because Deleuze is not proposing a Christian affirmation of life geared toward a transcendent enterprise; rather he is suggesting life is not marked by any signifier or proper noun: Deleuze's vision is of a radically immanent ﬂeshed existence intensively lived.Deleuze introduces a fundamental distinction between personal and impersonal death. Death is the empty form of time, the perpetual becoming that can be actualised in the present but ﬂows back to the past and seeps into the future. The eternal return of death is 'virtual' in that it has the generative capacity to engender the actual. Consequently, death is the ultimate manifestation of the active principle that drives all living matter, namely the power to express the pre-individual or impersonal power of potentia. Death is the becoming-imperceptible of the nomadic subject and as such it is part of the cycle of becoming. Yet, death is still interconnected with the 'outside' and always on the frontiers of incorporeality.
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.
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