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

NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13/14 #81

23 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2014 Last revised: 2 Sep 2015

Date Written: March 21, 2014

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Sherwin, Richard Kenneth, Law in the Flesh: Tracing Legitimation's Origin to 'The Act of Killing' (March 21, 2014). No Foundations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Law and Justice, No. 11, June 2014; NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13/14 #81. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2484906

Richard Kenneth Sherwin (Contact Author)

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States

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