Aesthetics of Law and Culture: Texts, Images, Screens

ISBN: 978-0-76231-151-4, eISBN: 978-1-84950-304-4

ISSN: 1059-4337

Publication date: 30 December 2004


If it has become possible in recent times to talk of a jurisprudence of Franz Kafka,1 it should be realised firstly that two things dear or indispensable to the writer will have long been disfigured in the study of law: desire and its assemblage. “For spiritual nourishment,” he writes of his legal education I have nothing but sawdust, which, to crown it all, has been chewed over already by thousands of mouths before me (Kafka, 1966, p. 94, as cited in Legendre, 1997, p. 101).Jurisprudence, after all, would be a very specialised field in which one must speak a very specialised and sober language; a particular form of expression inseparable from a particular investment of desire. But Kafka’s problem with legal studies, if it can be viewed as a problem of sawdust, would not be for example what else one can chew, but simply this: how else to put one’s mouth to use? In other words, how to invent a mode of expression as the only real way to desire, or alternatively how to desire as the only real way to express oneself. For this, one always finds a machine – literature, letters, childhood or animal machines perhaps, as Kafka discovers for himself. And of course the various juridical machines through which desire is assembled and organised according to strict formalisations of content and enunciation. Jurisprudence would still not have come close to laying its hands (or its mouth) upon this assemblage in which it, as a small or even marginal component, discovers its functionality: a legal assemblage of desire.


Mussawir, E. (2004), "5. THE TRIAL", Kenyon, A. and Rush, P. (Ed.) Aesthetics of Law and Culture: Texts, Images, Screens (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 34), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 111-131. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1059-4337(04)34005-6

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