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The Magic of Court Rooms: The Science of Experiment

Amanda Knox and Magical Transformations of Law

It has been noted by some that in the history of Science there are great dues to be paid to the instrumentalism of magic itself. Far from being opposed to science, magic with its ritualizations and isolations of practices, its heavy dose of the instrumentalization of forces beyond the human, was more a proto-science. This is found from the Hellenistic Age and its daimonology all the way to Newton’s devoted alchemical experiments and theorization. Part of the backbone of this understanding is the realization that the private space filtering of effects (the laboratory of both the magus and the scientist) is key to both producing literal truths, but also to cloister subjective powers such that “magic” happens. The Amanda Knox case seems to show us as well that courts are like laboratories too. These are isolated environments where specifically defined differences are selected out such as to produce a kind of extra-court, transcendent product…justice. But just as well these magical operations, these operations of selection and hermeticism, can tend to produce fantastic magic of the unexpected kind. Especially in cases which bear the currents of strong social shift, the “laboratory” effect actually can work to condense and focus these sub-realities so to conjure something more. It seems that these are not the failings of courtrooms, so much as the effect that comes with truth-procedures themselves.