The Blood of Dionysus or the Vineyard of the Lord?

If you take your humor dark then you might appreciate the fact that today, of all days, is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Gilles Deleuze’s suicide by auto-defenestration. The deed horrified his friends and disciples, in part because an act of life-denying negation seemed so opposed to his Nietzschean philosophy of saying yes to life. In various ways, they tried to argue that his death was in fact an ultimate affirmation.[1]

Deleuze was one of the leaders of the French revival of Nietzsche beginning in the 1950s. His idiosyncratic yet powerful reading of the German thinker interpreted the latter as a metaphysician of difference. If Nietzsche was “the last disciple of the philosopher Dionysus,”[2] then Deleuze paid him homage by creating a Dionysian ontology opposed to that of the Crucified. The alternatives were clear: “Dionysian mania is opposed to Christian mania; Dionysian intoxication to Christian intoxication; Dionysian laceration to crucifixion; Dionysian resurrection to Christian resurrection; Dionysian transvaluation to Christian transubstantiation.”[3]

Catherine Pickstock has portrayed Deleuze’s ontology as the single most compelling alternative to the philosophia perennis: “The two philosophical options in consequence would appear to be Deleuzian or Platonic, respectively.”[4] Otherwise put, is being the immanent and divinely intoxicating life of Dionysus? Or, is it the analogous reflection of the Eucharistic life of the self-giving triune God? Is being the blood of Dionysus or the vineyard of the Lord?

Gilles Deleuze

Deleuze created his ontology by combining Nietzsche with Spinoza (among other influences), resulting in a vitalistic and immanent account of being. Being is “univocal”: there is one “unique, universal, and infinite substance,” or, as Spinoza put it, being is Deus sive natura (D&R 40).

As Pickstock realizes, this ontology is a powerful alternative to the analogy of being. Analogical metaphysics presents a world in which beings are similar to God’s being yet with a greater dissimilarity. Deleuze complained, “Analogy has always been a theological vision, not a philosophical one, adapted to the forms of God, the world, and the self.”[5] Analogy means there is no single being that encompasses both God and creature: Deus is ipsum esse subsistens (the subsisting act of being itself), while a creature is a finite being, an ens.

Deleuze attacked this analogical metaphysics with all the Nietzschean power and wit he could muster. The new critique of Nietzsche rendered passé the old critique of Kant: “Can we really believe that by installing the priest and the legislator in us we stop being primarily believers and subjects?” (N&P 93) In decisively rejecting both priest and legislator, Nietzsche provides the necessary critique of the old traditional philosophy that operated by privileging identity and analogy and by elevating the Christian ideal.

Nietzsche does this by providing “a new way of thinking” that is “an affirmative thought, a thought which affirms life and the will to life, a thought which finally expels the whole of the negative” (N&P 35). Nietzsche’s critique entails “the transformation of the [classically metaphysical] question ‘what is . . . ?’ into ‘which one is . . . ?’” Deleuze argued. “For example, for any given proposition he asks ‘which one is capable of uttering it?’” Yet Deleuze goes on to caution,

Here we must rid ourselves of all “personalist” references. The “one that [is capable of uttering]” does not refer to an individual, to a person, but rather to an event, that is, to the forces in their various relationships in a proposition or a phenomenon, and to the genetic relationship which determines these forces (power).[6]

“The one that” equals the event of particular relations of forces. In this way, Nietzsche overturns a metaphysics of analogy with an ontology of relations of forces.

For Deleuze, this event of related forces is being: “Nothing other than the Event subsists, the Event alone, Eventum tantum.”[7] “Univocity” literally refers to speaking with “one voice,” which Deleuze takes as a reference to “the one that is capable of uttering.” Hence, being itself, in its univocity, is equivalent to “the one who is capable of uttering.” The univocity of being is the speaking of the event of being. And that non-personal event, “the one that” speaks, “is always Dionysus, a mask or a guise of Dionysus, a flash of lightning” (N&P xi). Dionysus is always the answer to the question “which one?” and he is the voice of the event of univocal being.

Thus, we could say that, for Deleuze, being is the blood of Dionysus, which circulates everywhere.[8] Being is the eruption and disappearance of intensities of force, which are what we experience as “things” or “states of affairs.” Here and there, being congeals as the actualization of the liquid virtuality and then disappears (D&R 206-221).[9] This “drama” is a “theater of cruelty,” a world of “movements without subjects, roles without actors” (D&R 219). Only Dionysus speaks; only the event moves. Everything else is the actualization of the one event of being, no more, no less.

Dionysus as Dramatic Will to Power

Why did Dionysus so capture the imagination of Nietzsche and Deleuze after him? Dionysus, the god of wine, has blood that intoxicates, a reverse Eucharist suitable for the Anti-Christ (“Dionysian intoxication opposed to Christian intoxication”). Too much art, Deleuze complained, has looked to the Mass as a model “for the dreamed-of theater—the Mass, not the mystery of Dionysus” (N&P 33),[10] who is the god of the theater. Indeed, his name marked the Athenian theater on the slopes of the Acropolis where tragedies (such as Euripides’s Bacchae) were performed during the City Dionysia theater festival.

Further, Dionysus was unique in the Greek pantheon, in that he was the only god whose cult was perpetually rejected by humans.[11] In the opening of Bacchae, Dionysus relates the action that has lead up to that moment: he undertook his journey east through “all of Asia” (15) for the purpose of spreading his cult—what other god had to do that?—and gathering a band of mostly female followers (the Bacchae or maenads).[12] He has returned to Thebes, the site of his conception, which resulted from the affair between Zeus and the human woman Semelê. Yet Dionysus finds in Thebes that his deceased mother is slandered as a liar concerning her relations with Zeus, her sisters disdain her, and her nephew Pentheus, the king of Thebes, refuses to have anything to do with the “contrived” Bacchic cult (215).

Thus, Dionysus is “the persecuted god, the suffering and dying god, and all whom he loved, all who attended him, had to share his tragic fate.”[13] The similarity of this suffering and dying god to Christ was not lost on Christian readers. In fact, in medieval Byzantium, an anonymous author composed Christus Patiens, a meditation that incorporated into its description of Christ many verses from Bacchae concerning Dionysus.[14]

What is unlike Christ is the propensity of Dionysius to work bloody revenge on all those who oppose them, and even on those who follow him. Pentheus is drawn into Dionysian mania, dresses himself as a woman, and goes off to spy on the Bacchae. Yet, he is betrayed by Dionysus and torn to pieces by his mother, Agave, and her sisters, who think he is a lion while they are under the Dionysian spell.

The misrecognition of Pentheus is of a piece with the Dionysian dramatic talent for masking and metamorphosis. “Behind the masks, therefore, are further masks, and even the most hidden is still a hiding place, and so on to infinity” (D&R 106). Is Pentheus the king? Or is he really his role, a woman participating in the mania of the Bacchic women? Or, is he the lion?[15] There is no ultimate answer to this question for Deleuze. “The modern world is one of simulacra . . . All identities are only simulated, produced as an optical ‘effect’ by the more profound game” of being (D&R xix). There are only masks under masks, roles without actors.

Dionysus’s ability to disguise and change is complemented by his aspect as a “watery god . . . associated with the wet components of living things: semen, sap, milk, and blood.”[16] The chorus in Bacchae sing: “The plain flows with milk, it flows with wine, it flows with the nectar of bees” (142-143). A messenger describes the fluid setting of the Bacchae in ecstasy on the mountain,

“One took her wand and struck it against a rock, and out of it a dewy stream of water sprang forth. Another let her wand strike the ground of the earth, and there the god sent forth a stream of wine. All who had a desire for the white drink patted the earth with the tips of their fingers and obtained jets of milk. And from the wands stuffed with ivy, from those wands sweet streams of honey were dripping.” (704-711)

The Bacchae are caught up in Dionysian fluidity. Dionysian mania—enthousiasmos, being filled with the god—was known to entail a sense of self that dissolves into that of the watery god. Thus, Agave does not recognize herself as the mother of Pentheus, any more than she recognizes her son. What she gets in exchange is the ability to see and act like Dionysus himself, with godlike strength and decisiveness, “a power of decision, a fiat which, when we are infused by it, makes us semi-divine beings” (D&R 197). This decision does not come from the self but from the field of the being-event. “The imperatives are those of being . . . Another always thinks in me, another who must also be thought” (D&R 199, 200). There is only “one voice,” the voice of Dionysus.

This one voice that speaks, the one event-being that appears and disappears, “is precisely what Nietzsche meant by will to power.” The voice of Dionysus is the enunciation of the will to power, which is not a searching-for power but instead power itself speaking. “Power is therefore not what the will wants, but on the contrary, the one that wants in the will” (N&P xi).[17] Dionysus is another word for “the one that wants in the will.”

The Dionysian will to power is what ensures that forces gather out of or disperse back into the field of event-being, creating individuals and destroying them in its “cruel theater.” In this forcefield of being,

The question “which one?” reverberates in and for all things: which forces, which will? This is the tragic question. At the deepest level the whole of it is held out to Dionysus. For Dionysus is the god who hides and reveals himself, Dionysus is will, Dionysus is the one that . . . The question “which one?” finds its supreme instance in Dionysus or in the will to power; Dionysus, the will to power, is the one that answers it each time it is put (N&P 77).

Eternal Return of the Differing

The “one voice” of univocal being is nevertheless not ultimately a matter of “the same.” Rather, what congeals out of the fluid field of event-being is difference. In contrast to traditional philosophy’s privileging of identity, what is most primordial according to Deleuze is difference, “Difference is behind everything, but behind difference there is nothing” (D&R 57).[18]

Surprisingly, Deleuze finds this affirmation of difference in Nietzsche’s eternal return, which the French theorist denies is a return of the same. Eternal return is rather the return of what is selected to return. And the criteria for selection are action and affirmation, instead of passivity and negation. The latter will not return, because strictly speaking they are not (D&R xi-xii). “They are the opposite of becoming and only becoming has being” (D&R xii).[19] The selection-process of the eternal return eliminates all that is not active, creative, and affirmative.[20] “The genius of eternal return lies not in memory but in waste, in active forgetting” of all that should be forgotten (D&R 55).

Difference goes hand-in-hand with repetition, therefore, because repetition is the return of the Dionysian masks or simulacra. “Taken in its strict sense, eternal return means that each thing exists only in returning, copy of an infinity of copies which allows neither original nor origin to subsist” (D&R 67). There is no original form, a là Plato, to which things must measure themselves. There is no dismissive Platonic rejection of the mere appearance, the simulacra, in favor of ever-closer identification with the superior original. Instead, things “are simulacra themselves, simulacra are the superior forms, and the difficulty facing everything is to become its own simulacrum, to attain the status of a sign in the coherence of eternal return” (D&R 67).

The selection-process of the eternal return means that it functions as the Nietzschean version of the Kantian categorical imperative. “Nietzsche’s ethics” are constituted by the selection of the will to power: “only will that of which one also wills the eternal return (to eliminate all half-willing, everything which can only be willed with the proviso ‘once, only once’)” (N&P xi). The eternal return presents the ethical choice: to refuse the non-being of negativity and half-heartedness and to replace them with the affirmation of life.

The Clamor of Univocity

Thus, the eternal return allows for the return of the different, and this movement of difference is the congealing of the one, fluid field of being. Being sings with “one voice” (univocity): “Each chooses his pitch or his tone perhaps even his lyrics, but the tune remains the same, and underneath all the lyrics the same tra-la-la, in all possible tones and all pitches” (D&R 83-84). Deleuze calls this “a single voice rais[ing] the clamor of being” (D&R 35).[21] What does the voice cry? “’Everything is equal!’ and ‘Everything returns!’ . . . A single and same voice for the whole thousand-voiced multiple, a single and same Ocean for all the drops, a single clamor of Being for all beings” (D&R 304).

In this account, Deleuze has consciously combined the ontology of Duns Scotus with that of Spinoza (D&R 35-42). Because Deleuze does not share Scotus’s concern to avoid pantheism, the French thinker can present the one substance of Spinoza as the one voice of being in Scotus. Deus sive natura cries out multiply in the one being of the world, and in it we hear the oceanic voice of Dionysus, the will to power, singing.

The Fractured Subject

Eternal return’s “extreme coherence” has no place for “the coherence of a thinking subject” (D&R 58). We have already seen the loss of self of the Bacchae. In Deleuzean terms, Agave the mother of Pentheus appears to be an I or a self. But she is truly a singularity that emerges from the liquid field of being-event. It is an error to invest this individual with substantial features—an I—because there is only one substance, that of the univocal being-event. As we have seen, identities are only simulacra or optical effects, while individuation is the congealing of “fields of fluid intensive factors which no more take the form of an I than of a Self” (D&R 152).

This is a deeply Nietzschean theme. He writes, “Everywhere [reason] sees a doer and doing; it believes in will as the cause; it believes in the ego, in the ego as being, in the ego as substance, and it projects this faith in the ego-substance upon all things—only thereby does it first create the concept of ‘thing.’”[22] In fact, what appears to be “that little changeling, the ‘subject’” is in fact the force-field of the will to power that constitutes the deep structure of the world.

Popular morality . . . separates strength from expressions of strength, as if there were a neutral substratum behind the strong man, which was free to express strength or not to do so. But there is no such substratum; there is no “being” behind doing, effecting, becoming; “the doer” is merely a fiction added to the deed—the deed is everything.[23]

As Judith Butler sees, for Nietzsche, conscience and bad conscience are the mechanisms by which we get “the formation, persistence, and continuity of the subject.”[24] Only the non-affirmative can lead to “the subject,” which must in turn be replaced by pure, albeit impersonal, affirmation.

Deleuze argues that Nietzsche replaces the subject with the “Overman” (N&P 163). Instead of the former ways of feeling, thinking, and evaluating, the Overman—the fruit of Dionysus and his wife Ariadne—is capable of the affirmative “transvaluation” of values away from the negative and toward affirmation.

In the later Difference and Repetition, Deleuze speaks not of the Overman but of “larval subjects.” These exist from “passive” rather than active syntheses (D&R 78). His nearly-contemporary book, The Logic of Sense, gives another way to look at these passive larval subjects. They are what emerges out of the event-being, like infinitives rather than subject-verb combinations. One can say that “the tree greens,” but it is better to say that “‘to green’ indicates a singularity-event in the vicinity of which the tree is constituted.”[25] The infinitive emphasizes the constant becoming that is being, while the substantives congeal and disperse on being’s surface. Vincent Descombes calls this the last “paradoxical” stage of the philosophy of the subject: “We should say, no longer ‘I think’, but ‘it thinks in me’, ‘it thinks’, ‘there is thinking’, ‘thinking happens to us’, etc.”[26] Or, as Deleuze scholar Claire Colebrook explains:

We do not exist as subjects who then express themselves; rather, life produces certain modes of expression such as painting, writing, speaking, moving, sculpting, building and dancing, and each style of expression produces its own subject. There is no unified life or subject prior to its specific expressions.[27]

Deleuze makes the subject the site of the congealing of verbs that are like “ants which enter and leave through the fracture in the I” (D&R 277).[28]

The Desiring Subject of Capitalism and Schizophrenia

In his later works in the 1970s, Deleuze develops his understanding of “the subject” further. The fractured “I” of Difference and Repetition becomes the desiring machine of the two Capitalism and Schizophrenia books, co-authored with radical psychoanalyst Félix Guattari. The “game of difference and repetition” that produces subjects as “optical effects” is revealed in the later books to be concretely the flows and breaks of desire. Dionysus is transposed into liquid desire.

Flow is the dominant image in Anti-Oedipus, the first volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia. “Flows, who doesn’t desire flows, and relationships between flows, and breaks in flows?”[29] These flows and breaks in flows are the actions of “desiring-machines”: the wasp and the orchid, the copulating couple, the entire pulsating movement toward and away from other desiring-machines.[30] In the second volume, A Thousand Plateaus, liquidity is reformulated as “lines of flight”—paths of action and escape—that occur against the backdrop of the congealment (“strata”) of “codes” (or laws) of desire.[31]

Nietzsche returns in Anti-Oedipus as an example of the schizophrenic subject. For Deleuze and Guattari, schizophrenic experience is a pointer to what remains when prior, socially-coded desire is decoded and unleashed. Thus, engaging in “schizoanalysis” (instead of psychoanalysis) is their way of getting to a natura pura. In Difference and Repetition, the larval subject is an optical illusion, an epiphenomenon of the Dionysian will to power’s “one voice.” In the Capitalism and Schizophrenia books, the subject is “produced as a residuum alongside the desiring-machine . . .  as an appendix or as a spare part adjacent to the machine” (AO 20). The schizophrenic is not fooled by the ego into thinking he is a fixed subject; instead, he is capable of experiencing immediately the congealing of intensities of being.

There is no Nietzsche-the-self, professor of philology, who suddenly loses his mind and supposedly identifies with all sorts of strange people; rather, there is the Nietzschean subject who passes through a series of states, and who identifies these states with the names of history: “every name in history is I . . . ” The subject spreads itself out along the entire circumference of the circle, the center of which has been abandoned by the ego. At the center is the desiring-machine, the celibate machine of the Eternal Return (AO 21).[32]

Thus does the last disciple of Dionysus dissolve into the divine infinity of being.

The Blood of Dionysus or the Vineyard of the Lord?

Did Deleuze think his death-plunge was a similar reabsorption into the plane of the immanent event, a stripping away of his individuality and a return to the impersonal? Was he now the “tragic artist,” who, unlike a pessimist, “is precisely the one who says Yes to everything questionable, even to the terrible”? Was he now Nietzsche’s “Dionysian”?[33] Is “saying Yes to life even in its strangest and hardest problems” a matter of saying yes to death when life so demands?[34] Was this the will to power thinking through him? If one follows in the tragic footsteps of Dionysus “in order to be oneself the eternal joy of becoming, beyond all terror and pity—that joy which included even joy in destroying,”[35] then is joy in destroying oneself perhaps the final test of the god of the theater of cruelty?

If so, then Deleuze’s death is indeed his last work. Philosophy for Deleuze is the production of concepts, and his death is the production of an argument for Dionysian baptism over Christian baptism, for Dionysian resurrection over Christian resurrection, and for Dionysian transvaluation over Christian transubstantiation. As Christ’s baptism was his death (Lk 12:50), so too is the Dionysian baptism. As life is affirmed by means of Christ’s death (Jn 12:25), so too does the Dionysian cult demand death as an offering to the god of life.

But Christ does not go to his death as the intoxicated and mad god: he refuses the wine for himself (Mt 27:34). Nor is resurrection purchased at the price of the death of those who disdain God, but rather at the price of the death of God in their place.[36] The Dionysian theater is symbolized in all its cruelty by the severed head of Pentheus, while the Christian theater is symbolized by its liturgical origin, the flowing blood and water from the side of the crucified God-man. Pentheus is indeed the fractured I, torn apart by his various roles and ultimately by the intoxicating force of Dionysian flow. Pentheus does not affirm; he will not return. The pierced side of Christ, on the other hand, returns creatures to wholeness, so that their voices can participate in the polyphony of being. The one-voiced clamor of being versus the many voices of redeemed men singing to and with their God: these are the basic options.

Thus, even when the Christian sounds the most Dionysian in her prayer—“Blood of Christ, inebriate me”—the blood of Christ does not replace her blood. The creature is not a temporary and epiphenomenal manifestation of God, but a truly distinct subject, with a personal reality that is not illusory. In God’s creation, there is space for more than one voice and more than one will. This is because the world is not the congealed blood of God; it is rather his vineyard. It is his beloved inheritance (I Kings 21:3, 6), that for which he has done all he can (Is 5:1-4, Mk 12:1). To tend it, he has even sent his beloved Son (Mk 12:6). The Lord’s vineyard is a truly dramatic stage, on which the theo-drama of man’s real freedom encounters God’s infinite freedom. Pace Deleuze, art got it right: this is the ultimate drama.

In this theo-drama, the very distance between creature and God becomes an invitation to traverse it in unitive love. Because we are not already divine, our likeness to God becomes an opportunity for a journey toward him, our true end—a true dynamism rather than an aimless flow. As Hans Urs von Balthasar puts it, man is not “a wave destined to subside into an anonymously flowing stream, but . . . a son springing forth moment by moment from the primordial fountain, the source of self-giving love whose eternal tradition it is to hand itself over.”[37]

The liturgical transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ is the crowning act of God’s self-gift to us. In the Eucharist, Christ remains as poured-out self-gift, the cup forever flowing and never emptied. “Flows, who doesn’t like flows?” Deleuze exclaimed. Our vector-nature, as creatures who have come from God and are meant to return to him, means we are intoxicated by flow. The Good News tells us that this movement is not anonymous and formless but rather marked by the self-giving love of the triune God, who exists in eternal processions. “Blood of Christ, inebriate me” is a prayer to be plunged into this fathomless love.

[1] See the reactions summarized in François Dosse, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: Intersecting Lives (New York: Columbia, 2010), 492-501. In the time leading up to his death, Deleuze was increasingly unable to breathe due to the lung condition that affected him for his whole adult life.

[2] Friedrich Nietzsche, “What I Owe the Ancients,” in Twilight of the Idols, Or, How One Philosophizes with a Hammer, from The Portable Nietzsche (New York: Penguin, 1982), §5, 563.

[3] Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy (New York: Columbia, 1983 [1962]), 16. Future references will be parenthetical and abbreviated N&P.

[4] Repetition and Identity (Oxford: OUP, 2013), 87. The title of the book is a conscious reversal of Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition (New York: Columbia, 1994 [1968]). Future references to Difference and Repetition will be parenthetical and abbreviated D&R.

[5] Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense (New York: Columbia, 1990), 179.

[6] Deleuze, “Preface to the English Translation” (1983), in Nietzsche and Philosophy, xi. Dionysus is both the one who asks “which one” and the one who answers, according to N&P 67, citing The Wanderer and His Shadow, “Sketch for a Preface,” 10.

[7] Deleuze, Logic of Sense, 176.

[8] The image is mine, although Deleuze speaks of philosophers of identity like Hegel attempting to make “a little of Dionysus’s blood to flow in the organic veins of Apollo” (D&R 262).

[9] As Deleuze wrote in the last writing of his to be published, “A life contains only virtuals. … What we call virtual is not something that lacks reality, but something that enters into a process of actualization … The immanent event actualizes itself in a state of things and in a lived state which bring the event about” (Gilles Deleuze, “Immanence: A Life …” trans. Nick Millett, Theory, Culture, and Society 14, no. 2 [1997]: 3-7 at 6).

[10] Deleuze is speaking of Mallermé in particular.

[11] Barry B. Powell, Classical Mythology (Boston: Pearson, 2015), 285. Scholars used to think that this non-acceptance of Dionysus was due to his being a late addition to the Greek pantheon, but recent discoveries indicate that he was actually an ancient god among the Greeks.

[12] Line numbers to Euripides’S play Bacchae will be given in parentheses in the main text. The translation used is by T. A. Buckley, revised by Alex Sens and Gregory Nagy.

[13] Walter Otto, Dionysus: Myth and Cult, (Indianapolis: Indiana, 1965 [1960]), 49. In addition to those mentioned in the Euripidean play, those who suffered because of their proximity to Dionysus included his mother Semelê, who burned to death, and many who went mad: Ino, his nurse, who boiled her child; the Minyads (daughters of King Minyas), who consumed their children; and Lycurgus, his enemy, who dismembered his son and attempted to rape his mother. His friends, however, are often resurrected: Semelê becomes a goddess on Mount Olympus, and Ino becomes a sea-goddess.

[14] Marigo Alexopoulou, “Christus Patiens and the Reception of Euripides' Bacchae in Byzantium,” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies. Supplement No. 126 (2013): 123-137.

[15] From Nietzsche: “In the Dionysian state, on the other hand, the whole affective system is excited and enhanced: so that it discharges all its means of expression at once and drives forth simultaneously the power of representation, imitation, transfiguration, transformation, and every kind of mimicking and acting. The essential feature here remains the ease of metamorphosis . . . He enters into any skin, into any affect: he constantly transforms himself” (“Skirmishes of an Untimely Man,” Twilight of the Idols, §10, 519-520).

[16] Powell, Classical Mythology, 285. Dionysus is “an essentially mobile divinity in perpetual displacement, a mobility in which [his] cortège participates” (M. Jeanmaire, Dionysos (Payot), 273, quoted by Deleuze, N&P 200, note 14).

[17] “What a will wants—this is the latent content of the corresponding thing . . . What a will wants is not an object, an objective or an end. Ends and objects, even motives, are still symptoms. What a will wants, depending on its quality, is to affirm its difference or to deny what differs” (N&P 78).

[18] Deleuze has in mind Leibniz’s calculus: dy/dx as the difference between differences (D&R 42-51.

[19] “Nietzsche does not do away with the concept of being. He proposes a new conception of being. Affirmation is being . . . Affirmation itself is being, being is solely affirmation in all its power . . . Being and nothingness are merely the abstract expression of affirmation and negation as qualities (qualia) of the will to power” (N&P 186, emphasis in the original).

[20] Vincent Descombes criticizes Deleuze’s simultaneous positing of criteria in a system that otherwise eliminates the possibility of value-judgment, in Modern French Philosophy (Cambridge: CUP, 1980), 156-167.

[21] Deleuze adds, “There has only ever been one ontological proposition: Being is univocal. There has only ever been one ontology, that of Duns Scotus, which gave being a single voice” (D&R 35).  

[22] Nietzsche, “’Reason’ in Philosophy,” Twilight of the Idols, §5, 483, emphasis in the original.

[23] Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals in Basic Writings of Nietzsche (New York: Modern Library, 2000), First Essay, §13, 481.

[24] Judith Butler, Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection (Stanford: SUP, 1997), 3.

[25] Deleuze, Logic of Sense, 6, 112.

[26] Descombes, “A Propos of the ‘Critique of the Subject,’” 129.

[27] Claire Colebrook, Deleuze: A Guide for the Perplexed (New York: Continuum, 2006), 108.  

[28] Deluze uses this image to represent Ideas emerging from the fractured I; I am adapting it here.

[29] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, vol. 1: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (New York: Penguin, 1977), 229. Future references to this work will be parenthetical and abbreviated AO.

[30] “Everything is a machine. Celestial machines, the stars or rainbows in the sky, alpine machines . . . nature as process of production” (AO 2).

[31] “The prime function incumbent upon the socius has always been to codify the flows of desire, to inscribe them, to record them, to see to it that no flow exists that is not properly damned up, channeled, regulated” (AO 33).

[32] Quoting Friedrich Nietzsche, letter to Jakob Burckhardt, Jan. 5, 1889, in Selected Letters of Friedrich Nietzsche, trans. Christopher Middleton (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), 347. “The ego, however, is like daddy-mommy: the schizo has long since ceased to believe in it. He is somewhere else, beyond or behind or below these problems, rather than immersed in them” (AO 23).

[33] From Nietzsche, “Reason in Philosophy,” Twilight of the Idols, §6, 484.

[34] Nietzsche, “What I Owe to the Ancients,” Twilight of the Idols, §5, 562.

[35] Nietzsche, “What I Owe to the Ancients,” Twilight of the Idols, §5, 562-63.

[36] From Bacchae: “Dionysus: I, a god by birth, was insulted by your hubris. Kadmos: Gods should not resemble mortals in their anger. Dionysus: My father Zeus decreed this long ago. Agave: Alas! A miserable exile has been decreed for us, old man” (1347-1350). This account could hardly differ more from that of the divine Father’s plan of salvation, in which the Son goes into a far exile from the Father so that man does not have to remain cut off from God.

[37] Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Tradition” (1970), trans. Adrian J. Walker, in Explorations in Theology, vol. 5: Man is Created (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2014), 356-373 at 371; see my “Fluidity: Man, the Triune God, and the Eucharistic Christ,” Communio, vol. 46 (Fall-Winter 2019): 585-619,

Featured Image: A Hellenistic Greek mosaic depicting the god Dionysos as a winged daimon riding on a tiger from the House of Dionysos at Delos in the South Aegean region of Greece, late 2nd century BC, Archaeological Museum of Delos; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100.


Angela Franks

Angela Franks is Professor of Theology at St. John's Seminary in Boston and a Church Life Journal Life and Dignity Writing Fellow. Her specialties include the theology of the body, the new evangelization, and the thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar.

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