[-empyre-] Vor dem Gesetz/Before the Law, hoveringly

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Wed Nov 19 09:57:19 EST 2014

[encryption 3, as promised; from Rustom Bharucha "Terror and Performance"]


towards justice 

(paraphrased, from the last chapter, on 'performing non-violence in the age of terror')

 If there is one particularly disheartening leitmotif that underlies the expositions of terror here, it is the sobering and banal fact that justice never seems to materialize
for the victims of terror, whether they are targets of terrorism, communal riots, genocides, torture or detention. Almost consistently, the perpetrators of terror (and counter-terror)
facilitate a distortion and evasion of justice. In India, most of the worst perpetrators of communal violence and genocide are not just free; in positions of power, they almost mock
any attempt to bring them to trial or to acknowledge their crimes. In my reading of this intolerable situation, there can be no truth and reconciliation for the world at large if the
existing legal systems at national and international levels are not adequately mobilized to redress this omnipotence of injustice....

        Rather than engaging a vast/complex subject such as the philosophy of justice  [cf. Levinas, Derrida, Agamben, as also cited  at length by Monika] or the performance of the law, I am now more concerned with the grassroots efforts
by activists to engage with the protocols of the law even as the law tends to perpetuate injustice through its endless postponements of trials...

             Then Bharucha says, if justice is a form of waiting (postponement), it could be argued that terror is always, already, imminent, in the near future.


Having read some of the striking posts today, by Andreas, Simon, Murat, Reinhold, William, Leandro, Fereshteh  and Monika,  I cannot help feeling that the law or the notion of justice, as well as what Monika has refered to as terror's suspension of all rights, "perpetuated/perpetual exception from any rules", needs to be spoken about here -- I had asked Pia at the end of the first week, what were the human rights she was monitoring on behalf of NGOs? how are human rights spoken and regarded in occupying/occupied space?  what is a monitor?  public space that is (if I understand Monika implicitly) to be polluted by sound-voice of lament?   Reinhold asks Pier, what catharsis ? (and I did watch Pier's documentary film "Say I'm a Jew" today  - http://vimeo.com/47087841 --  shaken up without knowing yet why by the laughter I hear as well as the silent smiles of these many faces.   Pier says:  "Emmanuel Lévinas refines (Buber's philosophy of) interaction by stating that the meeting with any face implies a distinct responsibility."

Now we can reflect on Andreas's story of the jasmine garden where he was last week (East Jerusalem), having spoken on both sides of a wall. how does on address spatial justice from two or many sides? 

I read somwhere Michael Sfard, lawyer and  Open Society Fellow, is completing a book that examines the last four decades of human rights litigation in Israel on issues related to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, studying the dilemma facing human rights defenders who challenge abuses using the abusing country’s own legal institutions.  I tracked a website where he posted news on his efforts to help drive litigation against terror, and found numerous feedback comments full of abuse, hate, but also defense of his activism.  

Thus I wonder tonight, about the powerlessness of poetry, the ecstasy of the camera work -- having just glanced at Judith Butler's comments on "camera work" as instrument of waging war, as a "material instrument" (in her "Frames of War: When is Life Grievable?", 2010) -- and the distinction between lament and litigation. Is not lament also a form of litigation, but is justice necessarily impossible, and thus also to be lamented? 

Johannes Birringer

More information about the empyre mailing list