"For Gene Rosaschi(1937-2004)
of Yerington, Nevada,
my eighth grade Geography teacher
at Community School, Tehran, Iran
He taught me
that remembering how others live,
knowing the proper names they give
to places, people and things,
and being observant about how we live
are basic skills for any life well lived.”
"In this sense the system literally feeds into itself, picking up the stray disturbed subjects it produces and integrating their maladies into its circuits of production. Thepharmakon of neoliberal capitalism is true to its definition as a cure and a poison, vacillating between the production and medicalization of pathology and its profitable treatment, all while preserving a labor force that is exhausted and psychically overtaxed by consumption and precarious forms of labor. This results in a further deferral of the system’s own collapse, by literally deferring the collapse of the bodies of subjects that are overexerted by the system itself.”
There is a damaging and self-defeating assumption that theory is necessarily the elite language of the socially and culturally privileged. It is said that the place of the academic critic is inevitably within the Eurocentric archives of an imperialist or neo-colonial West. The Olympian realms of what is mistakenly labelled ‘pure theory’ are assumed to be eternally insulated from the historical exigencies and tragedies of the wretched of the earth. Must we always polarize in order to polemicize?Homi Bhabha
“Being-a-king is an effect of the network of social relations between a “king” and his “subjects”; but - and here is the fetishistic misrecognition- to the participants of this social bond, the relationship appears necessarily in an inverse form: They think they are subjects giving the king royal treatment because the king is already in himself, outside the relationship to this subjects, a king; as if the determination of “being-a-king” were a “natural” property of the person of the king.”`Zizek’s fusion of Marx and Lacan
Both the counterfeit and the dollar rely on a fundamental mis-recognition of the locus of value: in this sense, the counterfeit is more authentic than the dollar.
That is to say:
A madman who believes himself a king is no more mad than a king who believes himself to be a king.
Which means that recognition is always-already mis-recognition. That is, in believing something to be a bounded and sovereign object (or subject/will) one is fundamentally attributing to a singular point what is infact a web of (social) relations.
The demand for recognition, incessantly embodied in the state’s fascination with authentication (of identity in the form of IDs or of the commodity-form and abstraction of labor value in the serial numbers on dollar bills to stick with my two main examples), is nothing more than a desire for sovereign agency.
There is a danger though, for while we are capable of refusing to recognize the sovereignty of the state, that same state can always use overwhelming force. The ultimate choice that is proffered by the sovereign (during the state of emergency) is between death or recognition.
A madman who believes himself a king is no more mad than a king who believes himself to be a king.Lacan
BEFORE THE LAW stands a doorkeeper on guard. To this doorkeeper there comes a man from the country and prays for admittance to the Law. But the doorkeeper says that he cannot grant admittance at the moment. The man thinks it over and then asks if he will be allowed in later. “It is possible,” says the doorkeeper, “but not at the moment.” Since the gate stands open, as usual, and the doorkeeper steps to one side, the man stoops to peer through the gateway into the interior. Observing that, the doorkeeper laughs and says: “If you are so drawn to it, just try to go in despite my veto. But take note: I am powerful. And I am only the least of the doorkeepers. From hall to hall there is one doorkeeper after another, each more powerful than the last. The third doorkeeper is already so terrible that even I cannot bear to look at him.” These are difficulties the man from the country has not expected; the Law, he thinks, should surely be accessible at all times and to everyone, but as he now takes a closer look at the doorkeeper in his fur coat, with his big sharp nose and long, thin, black Tartar beard, he decides that it is better to wait until he gets permission to enter. The doorkeeper gives him a stool and lets him sit down at one side of the door. There he sits for days and years. He makes many attempts to be admitted, and wearies the doorkeeper by his importunity. The doorkeeper frequently has little interviews with him, asking him questions about his home and many other things, but the questions are put indifferently, as great lords put them, and always finish with the statement that he cannot be let in yet. The man, who has furnished himself with many things for his journey, sacrifices all he has, however valuable, to bribe the doorkeeper. The doorkeeper accepts everything, but always with the remark: “I am only taking it to keep you from thinking you have omitted anything.” During these many years the man fixes his attention almost continuously on the doorkeeper. He forgets the other doorkeepers, and this first one seems to him the sole obstacle preventing access to the Law. He curses his bad luck, in his early years boldly and loudly; later, as he grows old, he only grumbles to himself. He becomes childish, and since in his yearlong contemplation of the doorkeeper he has come to know even the fleas in his fur collar, he begs the fleas as well to help him and to change the doorkeeper’s mind. At length his eyesight begins to fail, and he does not know whether the world is really darker or whether his eyes are only deceiving him. Yet in his darkness, he is now aware of a radiance that streams inextinguishably from the gateway of the Law. Now he has not very long to live. Before he dies, all his experiences in these long years gather themselves in his head to one point, a question he has not yet asked the doorkeeper. He waves him nearer, since he can no longer raise his stiffening body. The doorkeeper has to bend low towards him, for the difference in height between them has altered much to the man’s disadvantage. “What do you want to know now?” asks the doorkeeper; “you are insatiable.” “Everyone strives to reach the Law,” says the man, “so how does it happen that for all these many years no one but myself has ever begged for admittance?” The doorkeeper recognizes that the man has reached his end, and to let his failing senses catch the words, roars in his ear: “No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it.”
Except for I guess that I reject the whole notion that there could be any outside to law, that normative orders are all around us and infact are constitutive of us. But I guess that the dis-identification of the Law with the State is still a pretty (a) move.
Admittedly, attempts have been made to set certain limits on purely ‘logical’ grounds. One of our leading jurists explained on one occasion, when he was declaring himself against the exclusion of Socialists from university posts, that even he could at least not accept an ‘anarchist’ as a teacher of law, since an anarchist would deny the validity of laws as such; and he clearly thought this argument conclusive. I am of exactly the opposite opinion. An anarchist can certainly be a good legal scholar. And if he is, then it may be precisely that Archimedean point, as it were, outside the conventions and assumptions which seem to us so self-evident, at which his objective convictions (if they are genuine) place him, which equips him to recognise, in the axioms of conventional legal theory, certain fundamental problems which escape the notice of those who take them all too easily for granted. For the most radical doubt is the father of knowledge.Max Weber
My dream of being an anarchist legal scholar is not in vain!