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Studies in Law, Politics and Society

ISBN: 978-0-76231-109-5, eISBN: 978-1-84950-272-6

Publication date: 1 July 2004


Map of this detour: This is one of a series of detours compelled by consideration of inheritance law as an aspect of cultural transmission. 1 This course draws attention to three problematic time forms (temporalities) through which the “self” and its relations with history are often written and read. These implicit time forms are all too common and all too easily go unrecognized. Each involves the illusion of some kind of exalted and immediate convergence between the self (the subject) and an object of exaggerated importance to this self (the world, the universe, the metaphysical or artistic beyond, the origin, etc.). Three figures are explored here: that of Hercules in Hegel’s Aesthetics, and those of Adrian and Breisacher in Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus. Each of these invites attention to a different temporality through which an exalted convergence may be imagined: the first involves a fantasy of immediate belonging to the whole of history, the second, that of escape forward from history (toward a self-created “ultimate” object), and the third, that of return to fullness in origin (before history). This detour also suggests ways of reading history (including “reading for mana through glances,” which will be explained) that protect against the problems just described. The detour closes considering implications of all of the above for U.S. inheritance law. The tutor text for this last leg is François Mauriac’s Le noeud de vipères.


Jenkins, J. (2004), "DETOUR ABOUT THE VIPERS’ NEST", Studies in Law, Politics and Society (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 33), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 25-62.



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