Law in the Flesh: Tracing Legitimation's Origin to 'The Act of Killing'
No Foundations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Law and Justice, No. 11, June 2014
23 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2020
Date Written: March 21, 2014
The founding moment of political and legal investiture haunts the baroque and neo-baroque mind, from Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet' to Joshua Oppenheimer’s highly unsettling film, 'The Act of Killing' (2012). In the former, Hamlet finds the resources to act in the face of injustice; in so doing he precipitates a transformative political event that renews the rightful basis for state legitimacy. In 'The Act of Killing', by contrast, restless stasis remains unaltered from beginning to end. It is a state of affairs well suited to contemporary neo-baroque conditions – a time of distracted paralysis, when the availability of the cultural and psychological resources needed to go beyond terror and its purgatorial aftermath remains uncertain.
The exploration of post-secular possibilities requires new experiential sources, new interpretive and critical methods, and new interdisciplinary alliances. Phenomenology, psycho-theology, political theology, and visual jurisprudence are just some of the emerging categories (or perhaps re-emergent fields) that present themselves to us for further consideration.
Keywords: phenomenology, political theology, flesh, liberal theory, visual jurisprudence, investiture, legitimation, terror, emergency, enchantment, post-secular, the act of killing, eros, love, natural law, state of exception, fidelity to law
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