12. UNWORKING DEATH IN “UNFORGIVEN”: LAW, ETHOS, VIOLENCE

Publication Date30 December 2004
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1016/S1059-4337(04)34012-3
Pages257-268
AuthorThomas L. Dumm
12. UNWORKING DEATH IN
“UNFORGIVEN”: LAW, ETHOS,
VIOLENCE
Thomas L. Dumm
If death is not the gateway to another life, and if it is not going to havethe contingent character
of brute fact, then one’s mortality is something that one has to project freely,as the product of
a resolute decision. Death is therefore something to be achieved; it is a Work.
Critchley (1997, p. 137).
May the days be aimless. Let the seasons drift. Do not advance the action according to a plan.
DeLillo (1985, p. 98).
LAW’S SHADOW
What may be another kinship of law and death? To suggest that death is a work
may allow us (I hope misleadingly) to suggest, by way of something more than
coincidence – but less than perfect parallel – that law is the very definition of
absolute limit. In this sense law would be death’sshadow, a shadow cast by the sun
of life as it shines on death, a sun toward which Giorgio Agamben seems to have
been moving in his recent writing. (1998) And yet, as if in presumptive rebuttal,
Michel Foucault convincingly suggested years before Agamben’s intervention,
in a meditation on Maurice Blanchot, that “The law is the shadow toward which
every gesture necessarily advances;it is itself the shadow of the advancing gesture”
(Foucault, 1987, p. 35). Every gesture directs our attention away from the sun’s
light and toward the cave of the everyday, where the fire may come, when it comes
and if it comes, from places otherwise.
An Aesthetics of Law and Culture: Texts,Images, Screens
Studies in Law, Politics, and Society,Volume 34, 257–268
© 2004 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN: 1059-4337/doi:10.1016/S1059-4337(04)34012-3
257

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT