November 9, 2014

Attached here is a paper drafted with the intention of publishing it in Laurent de Sutter’s forthcoming Zizek & Law collection.  It is called “On nomoeroticism: Affect checkpoints and the authority of the law.”  I withdrew it from that book, and have decided not to publish it.  It offered me a platform to think about some problems of deep importance to me, like the nature of legal authority, which I now envision as a kind of modelization thanks to this experiment.  It also allowed me to explore and test the limits of some of the concepts introduced in my book on Bruno Latour, such as “affect checkpoints,” a notion that plays a key role in the elaboration of the force of law as a continuous route of occasions that the book offers.  I don’t regret taking up the offer to contribute a chapter, and I apologize for my poor manners in pulling it.

I withdrew the paper for personal reasons.  I decided not to place it in print elsewhere because conceptually I am over it, and as a para-academic, no one is counting how many pages I have filled annually.  There are some advantages to being an outsider.

Here is the beginning of the introduction…

Love of law is an ancient discipline, but its antiquity should not distract from its persistence. Our law consists no longer in the secret doctrines of pagan pontiffs or the institutional experimentation of nameless Republican jurisconsults, nor of the rigorous dialectical science of the celebrated classical jurists, Ulpian, Papinian, and the rest. Yet it is the wager of psychoanalysis that jurisprudence, its sister in cautelary casuistry, in the science of the passion for the case, is ruined if these echoes drown in the whir of the modern administrative machine. Something of their force is preserved in the artifacts through which history unfolds, in the images and texts that render us knowable to ourselves despite having long preceded us. Their myths and rites live on, subdued, repressed, transformed, in our own legal practices and techniques, in the ways we participate in the constitution of the forms of authority that govern us. Psychoanalytic jurists remind us of our institutional inheritance.

Slavoj Žižek places law – both juridical and moral – at a crucial conjunction in his expansive theory of ideology. Precisely, this point is the intersection of the subject’s attachment to the symbolic order and the objective authority which it wields over her. His interrogation of legality thus follows these two distinct axes. His well-known dichotomy of licit, public law and its illicit, obscene, nocturnal supplement tracks the authority axis, while his theorization of fantasy and interpellation, and importantly cinema, that ‘phenomenology of the Lacanian spirit’, tracks the attachment axis. Together, they propose a distinctive solution to the problem of the love of law, of attachment to power.


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