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Tag Archives: magic

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.

The Banality of Badiou…


Splintering Bone Ashes puts it this way,

Whilst his ontological position has a certain minimalist elegance about it, everything he builds atop it is little more than a ridiculous hyper-structure of nonsense piled upon nonsense, an unsteady philosophical folly whose absurd (yet po-faced) architecture has only been exacerbated by (what I have read thus far of) Logics of Worlds.

And Naught Thought collects the pieces of a disaffected sense of betrayal (a betrayal that isn’t even dramatic enough to be betrayal).

For me it was never the case that I was enchanted with Badiou, only savoring his study of Paul, often just seeing him as something of a One-ups-man of his much more influential and preceding, Deleuze. Who is going to inherit the shared crown of the Dioskouroi, Derrida and Deleuze, so as to enthrall today’s students, and convince them that real philosophy is being done somewhere, now? Continental Philosophy’s need for a frontman.

Yet really it comes back down to this “mimimalist elegance”. The austerity would be austere if it were only intense. If things are to be abstracted, honed, rarified, condensed, they must vibrate, burn in all their mimimal character. Instead it all comes off as a sketch in a student’s notebook, some essential diagram dreamed up, and then written on without end. It is like Plotinus without the Vision. It is a mathematical analogy taken too literally, nicely clever, so as to self-convince. Its like seeing a magician who fails at magic, the transformative performance of that which magic is, and turning illusion into mere trick, someone who forgot the Prestige. After you make the world disappear, you have to bring it back.

[Spoiler: Do not watch if you haven’t seen the film, The Prestige]