Life Drawing: A Deleuzean Aesthetics of Existence

Life Drawing: A Deleuzean Aesthetics of Existence

Life Drawing: A Deleuzean Aesthetics of Existence

Life Drawing: A Deleuzean Aesthetics of Existence


Deleuze's publications have attracted enormous attention, but scant attention has been paid to the existential relevance of Deleuze's writings. In the lineage of Nietzsche, Life Drawing develops a fully affirmative Deleuzean aesthetics of existence.
For Foucault and Nehamas, the challenge of an aesthetics of existence is to make your life, in one way or another, a work of art. In contrast, Bearn argues that art is too narrow a concept to guide this kind of existential project. He turns instead to the more generous notion of beauty, but he argues that the philosophical tradition has mostly misconceived beauty in terms of perfection. Heraclitus and Kant are well-known exceptions to this mistake, and Bearn suggests that because Heraclitean becoming is beyond conceptual characterization, it promises a sensualized experience akin to what Kant called free beauty. In this new aesthetics of existence, the challenge
is to become beautiful by releasing a Deleuzean becoming: becoming becoming.
Bearn's readings of philosophical texts--by Wittgenstein, Derrida, Plato, and others--will be of interest in their own right.


While every noble morality develops from a triumphant affirmation of
itself, slave morality from the outset says No to what is “outside,” what
is “different,” what is “not itself”; and this No is its creative deed. This
inversion of the value-positing eye—this need to direct one’s view
outward instead of back to oneself—is of the essence of ressentiment: in
order to exist, slave morality always first needs a hostile external world;
it needs, physiologically speaking, external stimuli in order to act at
all—its action is fundamentally reaction.

—FRIEDRICH nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals

The child is innocence and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a
self-propelling wheel, a first motion, a sacred Yes-saying.

—FRIEDRICH nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra


Yes. Surprising as it seems, Western philosophy is afraid of Yes. in the wake of his early fascination with Schopenhauer’s dark pessimism, Nietzsche discovered in ancient Greek tragedy the energizing and terrifying power of Yes. Tragedy as dangerous affirmation, like wine. This was not, nor is it today, the standard approach to tragedy.

Slice one thin feature from the haunches of human tragedy: Tragedies disrupt our projects. Using all one’s intellectual energy to avoid sleeping with your mother, you find yourself siring siblings. Flying to an important meeting, the plane explodes. Called from a budding theatrical career to war, imprisoned, fortunate to return alive, you find you have not really survived. Tragedy, negatively construed, names the eruption of brute fact, dumb luck, in the middle of our well-planned lives. We struggle to give our lives significance, meaning, a point, and then tragedy discovers all our planning pointless. Unless there is another way.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.