Either ethics makes no sense at all, or this is what it means and has nothing else to say: not to be unworthy of what happens to us.
— Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, p149
I have been thinking about worthiness a lot today. To get an appreciation of the active forces in our respective lives, the positive dimension of life that increases our capacity to act and to live, means letting our souls vibrate with the sick humanity of reactive forces. From the perspective of sickness do we get a perspective on health (or how awesome cold and flu tablets are). We then need to be worthy of the reactive forces that seize us so as to be worthy of the active forces that inflame our capacity to affirm the world.
Is this simply a pedagogy of sorrow? A dramatic way of stating, “We should learn from our mistakes?” No, at least, from what I can figure out, I don’t think so. The mistake is not an error, a disruption in what we think should have happened, but part of the infrastructure of our selves. I am a sum total of my mistakes. A sum total of everything I have done wrong. This is not a moral question, however.
The moral question would be to ask how these ‘wrongs’ contravened the ‘rights’, and what am I going to do about it. It is a reactionary science organised around deciphering the past, to find out finally — once and for all — who did what to who when and for what purpose. Justice can then be served on a transcendental plate.
If one is not aware of how the reactive forces of mistakes seize one’s soul then there is a desparate and somewhat paranoid pursuit to legislate the future without ever having questioned whether one is worthy or not. Expel the wrongs and somehow that leaves what is right? It leaves nothing but an exhausted anger.
The ethical question would be to ask how do my mistakes, and those other mistakes within which am implicated, feed who I am now and are explicated through me. Am I worthy of my mistakes?
I live with my mistakes, they are not in the past, but in the present. Although the outcome of a mistake is bad, the mistake itself, what I have dissolved into the surface of my body, is not bad. It gives me a strength of will; an enigmatic, almost impossible strength that is incalculable. My mistakes are an infrastructure for an always partial perspective on the complex interplay of events I help shape and through which I am shaped. Mistakes are a positive, an ontological resource, for a perspective on the good.
Another way of phrasing Deleuze’s famous line above is to ask, how to take care of the events that allow the good of life to circulate? (All other events are frankly irrelevant.) From the infrastructural perspective of the reactive forces of mistakes, to be worthy of the events within which we are implicated and through which the world is explicated; events of love and friendship, of work opportunities and fun nights out, of the hustling bustle of preoccupation and the silent moments in the day when the cosmos seems to breathe through you.