This present investigation, or activity of becoming Spinozist, begins with a fascination in a concept taken up toward the voluntary conclusion of Deleuze’s life; the concept of a life. And in the midst of this concept we discover a further perplexing term, that of beatitude. Beatitude is the mode of being in which one achieves the maximum of active power or force of existing, and the minimum of reactive passions; the mind becomes a cause of its own ideas, and the body that of its actions, in relation to an infinite milieu. Following Deleuze’s Spinozist account, the question of a life, which attains to absolute potential and absolute beatitude, installs one in the midst of a plane of immanence, which implies a mode of living, a way of life, an affirmative and ethico-aesthetic pursuit. We are in the midst of things, as Deleuze and Guattari are fond of telling us, and in being so unsteadily placed we discover ourselves in the context of certain contemporary political and ethical problems through which we must grope in an experimental manner. The structure of beatitude promises a refuge of sorts from such striving, and also from both sad and joyful passions; it is like the limited place or shelter from which we make all our necessary departures and returns. I will approach the notion of beatitude through the structure of any-space-whatever, a spatial formation Deleuze treats in his cinema books and also where he examines Samuel Beckett’s television plays. As Deleuze writes with respect to the any-space-whatever, “One can exhaust the joys, the movements, and the acrobatics of the life of the mind only if the body remains immobile, curled up, seated, sombre, itself exhausted…What matters is no longer the any-space-whatever but the mental image to which it leads”, a mental image I would like to examine through Spinoza and Deleuze’s concept of beatitude. Can beatitude, achieved through Spinoza’s third kind of knowledge, take on a spatial character, considered as much in extensive as in intensive terms?
Gilles Deleuze, “The Exhausted”, in Essays Critical and Clinical, trans. Daniel W. Smith and Micahel A. Greco (London: Verso, 1998), p. 169.
Wandering with Spinoza. Melbourne, Australia. 13 – 15 September 2006