Deleuze is therefore right to see desire as essential to human reality, though he misjudges desire’s purpose. Our loves are both greater and smaller than Deleuze thought. They are greater than he imagined, because they are ultimately directed not horizontally but vertically. As Thomas Aquinas argued, the desire proper to man is “altogether infinite,” because reason itself is ordered to the infinite. In Deleuze, the infinity of desire can only be a restless insatiability, the endlessness of eternal return, which he embraces with Nietzschean determination. But if, instead, our desire has a transcendent orientation, then its infinity aligns with the infinity of its divine end.
The vertical horizon of our longing underscores that our desires are also smaller than Deleuze believed. Instead of the Promethean project of creation ex nihilo, we are called to accept our status as creatures. This demands reorienting our loves toward the divine, and away from “gods of one’s own.” This reorientation does not—cannot—require that we reject all creaturely goods. As Thomas puts it, “of all things there is one goodness, and yet many goodnesses.” All good things deserve our love, but in the proper manner, ordered to the One Good.
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