How to make oneself a work of art by killing oneself: three images of suicidal deaths in Deleuze’s religious thought
My thesis will explore Gilles Deleuze’s thoughts on suicide which may illuminate the meaning of his own suicide. In Chapter 1, I begin my discussion with Foucault’s idea of suicide which impressed Deleuze, the idea that suicide can be an art creating a new mode of existence. Necessary for this creation is the incorporation of the force or power of the outside, which is the absolute other of thought and of life and yet affects both. According to Hume’s insight, which also interested Deleuze, God may be one of many representations of this unknown outside. Hence death, made an art in the manner of Foucault, may be described in religious terms. Along this line of thought, in the following chapters I address three types of religious images of suicidal death that are found in Deleuze’s works and can be translated into attempts at folding the outside. In Chapter 2, I discuss the death of the martyr which Deleuze finds in Leibniz. In this death, the incorporation of the power of the outside by the one who dies results in the accomplishment of one’s subjectivity by imitating the unity of God as a representation of the outside. In Chapter 3, I discuss the death of Christ which Deleuze relates to Spinoza’s thought. In this death, the incorporation of the power of the outside amounts to the dissolution of the self of the dying person into Nature, embodying the multiplicity of the effects of this power beyond the unity of representation. In Chapter 4, I discuss the death of Dionysus as Antichrist which Deleuze reads in Nietzsche. In this death, the incorporation of the force of the outside leads the one who dies to exercise this force as one’s own force upon oneself in one’s act of self-destruction until one shatters the unity of God and the identity of the self. I will show that Deleuze conceived of these deaths as realizations of novel states of the mind and the body comparable to different types of music. Proceeding from the first death to the second and then the third, the one who dies exposes oneself to the outside more thoroughly. The forms of music realized in these deaths vary from the completion of harmony, with recourse to unity, to the enjoyment of disharmony as multiplicity in itself. In the series of these images of death, suicide manifests itself as an attempt at making oneself into a piece of music which the one who dies plays and listens to until the end, creating the multiplicity to be affirmed by one’s act of killing oneself.