Things are still being installed in my new place, I have to buy new furniture because this is the first time in ten years that I’ve lived in a place without a closet. It’s all getting to be a bit chaotic. Not in a bad way, because I actually feel more relaxed now than I have in a long while.
|Spinoza articulated in the rationalist philosophy of his time|
the foundational principle of Kabbalah that all existence is
an expression of God, and ontologically is God itself.
• • •
Benedict Spinoza’s work had a very profound influence on my own thinking. I rediscovered him through reading Gilles Deleuze, and he supplied a way of reading Spinoza that cut through a lot of the austere worshipfulness that you see in more conventional Spinozists.
I think the most important element of this uptake of Spinoza is reading the Ethics as an ethical and political text. You wouldn’t think this would be difficult, if the title of the book is anything to go by. But because the book starts with a long argument about the existence and nature of God and material reality, the presumption is that it’s primarily about God and reality.
But the Ethics is, frankly, a book about ethics. More than that, it’s a book about the ethics of many bodies interacting together. The Ethics is a book about relationships, how we can manage our relationships with everything in the world around us to live better, more joyfully, without suffering, terror, or pain.
That principle – laid out in books four and five of the Ethics – is the foundation of the most radical Spinozist politics. I’m following Michael Hardt’s book on Deleuze’s early philosophical searching.
Here’s the principle that emerges from the Ethics when you emphasize the end instead of the beginning. The purpose of politics is to arrange our society so that all our encounters with each other and our institutions – or at least as many encounters as possible – are for the mutual benefit of everyone involved.
Universal harmony becomes the foundational principle of political science and practice. That should be the goal of our political work as people, neighbours, and members of communities that stretch across the Earth.
• • •
I’m also looking forward to getting back to work on my novel again, a version of You Were My Friend that I think will have the most legs. It’s interesting how the story is changing.
Madison’s character is, in just the first few sections that I’ve written so far, much more bubbly and energetic than I originally conceived of her. I think that’s going to give her arc – becoming overcome by cynicism – more of a kick than we saw of her in the theatre.
As I add more detail to the story, I think some of the good ideas that emerged when I was planning a You Were My Friend film project will get even more space to explore.
I haven’t gotten to the scenes with Madison's co-worker Jenna Chen, who inadvertently inspires her more mercenary sides. And I think there’s a lot more comedy potential to come out of Madison’s relationship with her on-off boyfriend Wesley the hipster with the stupid moustache.
I want to expand this story, this world, and these people. I think in my new place, I’m going to have more time and energy to do it.