You are on page 1of 14

International Journalfor the Semiotics of Law III/8 [1990]


The Colorado College


After Legendre, there is no human bone that does not also support
a dogma, no mouth through which the law does not speak, no kiss
that does not also enfeoff. The b o d y is a medieval compilation
w h i c h w e have inherited alongside the Corpus Juris and the
barbarian codes. It is a Roman institution hammered together with
Christian nails. From the llth to the 13th centuries it is assembled
and dissembled b y medieval lawyers, alongside the pages of the
legal text; it is compiled along with the political and juridical
concepts of the Justinian compilation, it accumulates a history
through the sedimentation of legal signs.
The b o d y remains a medieval space, which, like all medieval
space, is held in fee, that is to say, faithfully. We do not believe
the body, we believe in the body. To believe in the b o d y as a litur-
gical structure, in the Augustinian sense of structure as structura
caritatis, that is to say, a structure of political love, is a semiotic
labour: it is to believe in a b o d y that begins and ends in signs. To
believe in. What does this mean? It is to believe in a law that has
converted and fascinated biology, to believe in a law which accumu-
lates a b o d y as its servant and its scribe.
Ecrits juridiques du Moyen Age occidentaP comes to recover the
M i d d l e Ages as that period 2 which began the long w o r k of

1 Pierre Legendre, Ecrits juridiques du Moyen Age occidental (London:

Variorum Reprints, 1988).
2 In an interview with Peter Goodrich and Ronnie Warrington, Legendre
explains that "[t]he Middle Ages must be seen, not as the Middle Ages of a
linear history, but as the revolution of the Interpreter, whose role as the
founding moment of modern normative culture we have forgotten, but
whose effects are still felt today." It is in this period - - between the late llth

summoning the material world through the legal sign, of wedding

the body, any body, to a space of legal Reference.
We have no history of faith. No history which reconstructs the
long term, immobile or almost immobile structures of everyday life
on the basis of this emotion. No history of a faith that has worked
itself into our hair, our teeth, our fingernails, a faith through which
and across which the body feels itself and makes itself felt as law.
The body is and has always been a legal object. For Legendre,
the history of law is the history of the dogmatic reconstruction of
the body, of any body. 3 Not merely the body as a biological object--
an object mapped out and reconnoitred by a law that tells us that one
cannot be a brother of one's father or a father of one's mother - - but
the b o d y as an emotional ruin, that is to say, the body as an
emotional space hammered out across the duration of centuries, the
body as a text assembled and dissembled by legal writing, the body
as a deep structure of legal history.
There is no substance without fealty: no production, no repro-
duction. A history of the law is t h u s always and already a
g e n e a l o g y - a genealogy of creed, credit, credibility; the son, the
legal subject, is at the same time "... he who puts his faith in a
father and a creditor who waits for his due. "4 The Greek who would
pay back his debt with a cock becomes a Roman whose huge
gratefulness exceeds even his life: the fatherland accrues materia-
l i t y - through the name which does not die (dignitas non moritur),
and the image, imago, by w a y of which the noble Roman face
descends usuriously. But it is the glossatorial age which delivers u p
the infinite faith of a body totally inscribed by debt, the infinite

century and the mid 13th c e n t u r y - that "Western Europe ... laid the
foundations of its institutional and industrial habitat." See "The Lost
Temporality of Law: Interview with Pierre Legendre", Law and Critique I/1
(1990), 7.
3 For a more detailed analysis of the dogmatic function in Legendre's
magisterial Lemons, see "Law's Emotional Body: Images of the Body in the
work of Pierre Legendre", in P. Goodrich, Languages of Law: From the
Logics of Memory to Nomadic Masks (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson,
4 L Crime du caporal Lortie: Trait~ sur le P~re, Lemons VHI (Paris:
Fayard, 1989), 127.

faith of the jurist.

In an essay on the ancient law of penitence - - "Aux sources de la
culture occidentale: L'ancien droit de la p ~ n i t e n c e " - - Legendre
exposes an emotional body constructed and reconstructed in the legal
space of the confessional. It is here, in the subjectivization and
privatization of the tribunal, that Legendre sites the preconstruction
of the unconscious, an unconscious prostrated by medieval texts.
"If the unconscious is in essence a jurist", suggests Legendre, "... the
study of juridical phenomena as such can become the royal road
giving access to the mythological supports of industrial repro-
duction" (XI 508). s In "Les Maitres de la Loi", Legendre reveals a
legal unconscious imprisoned within industrial reason like Aeolus
inside his goats-skin. The body is "enclosed before birth ex utero in
the writing of the law" (XI.517). Scorched or plowed: its field of
imperatives is the protocol of the lover: use me. The Romanists, the
canonists, the priests, the jurists, the actuaries, the scribes and the
penitents all succumb to the Law's longing for a tongue, for a mouth,
for m a n y mouths, for substance. They give it their flesh, they give it
the body of their Emperors, the mouth of their oracles, the voice of
their kings. They give it a heart bearing archives. The tenure of the
body instituted by law must be reconsidered on the basis of the deep
structures of fealty through which the body reverts to a medieval
space, a space held in fee, that is to say, faithfully. All the bodies
produced and reproduced by material civilization are metabolised in
a symbolic way, because for reproduction to complete itself the body
must die without disappearing. Dogma places lineage in the
unconscious; it realigns the body to a space of reference through
which and in fealty to which its blood can continue to circulate
through the image and the name. What is at stake in the image is
always blood. 6

5 Consider in this context the classical description of the role of the

common law judge as the itinerant royal representative who would go out
and 'find' the law embedded in the symbolism of custom and the imaginary
of a people. If, according to Lacan, the real exists in the distance between
the symbolic and the imaginary then that distance is the law.
6 Compare Exodus XXIV where the true image of god, and the law of the
covenant between god and Israel in which that image is established against
all other graven images and false gods, is ritually signed in sacrificial blood,
"the blood of the covenant": half the blood is sprinkled on the altar, half is

Images are instituted: they honor an imperative to produce and

reproduce the text of material life, so as to transmit, again and
again, the heritable sense of an origin. The history of the image is
the history of the conversion of the origin by law: one law on the
other: utrumque ius, Roman law, canon law. It is the history of
fealties such conversions imply. A history of the law would be in
other words nothing other than a history of faith, a history of faith
in the body itself, but also and at once a history of an absence of
faith in the body, a history of Christian repression of sensation in
the name of law.

Utrumque ius

How does the law accumulate a body? In "Le droit romain,

module et langage: De la signification de l' Utrumque Ius" Legendre
takes up the problematic of a canon law fascinated and converted by
Roman principles. The essay retraces the history of a law that
accumulates a body through and across the condensation of images
stolen from Roman law and hammered into a totemic body according
to the principle of "one law on the other". The utrumque is the
exemplary space of the dogmatic reconquista: conquered and
conquered again, the law is a space of imitation, of borrowing, of
assimilation, of appropriation, its body is a ruin re-constructed and
unified through dogmatic discourse and its principle of imitatio
imperil In the totemic body of the law can be seen the successive
inhabitation of the face of the father in the jowl of the son: the
Roman image is loved in the Christian text.
Fealty is everywhere you scratch hard enough: the Church
dismantles Rome, represses Rome, but also and thereby repeats
Rome. Thus Rome outlives Rome: in the descent of its images and its
instruments. It was Roman law that served as a model for a law that
would ultimately foil and disgrace the Roman law tradition. The
history of the utrumque ius is our history: we are the Romans who
have been fascinated and converted by our servants, by the
instruments themselves, the rules themselves. The texts have
become our totems. Every canonic image follows from the model

sprinkled on the people.


itself, the model of a God who gives the law through the mouth of
the princeps: the final witness of a Law which descends from only
begettor to only begotten. The model of Roman law reflected back an
ideal image of a civil law tradition for the canonists.
By the 13th century, "the canonists had, finally, amalgamated,
so to speak, most of the representations of Roman law" (VIII.923).
Yet a sociology of the Utrumque Ius must have as its subject the mask
itself, the representation itself; it must P... yield to the succession of
appearances, collecting true or deformed images and seeing them for
what they are. All these doctrines in effect are often mirror plays;
the authors of the Middle Ages turn away from us and we are hardly
a r m e d to c o m p r e h e n d them" (VIII.921). But it is not enough to
wander among symbols, For Legendre the fundamental question is:
what are the two laws for each other? (VIII.921) Each law must be
read through its efforts to separate itself from the other, to define
itself against the other or to reflect itself in its image.
The canons imitate the laws, and then the laws must be m a d e to
imitate the canons. There is no simple reception of one law by the
other; there is a double dependance (ius ecclesiasticum mixtum) a
confusion, a confounding, a failure to link concepts borrowed from
Roman law with imperiai reality, a failure to distinguish between
the sources of the two laws, a failure, too, to domesticate and
integrate the Roman law without at the same time resenting it as an
adversary and an interruption. "The canonists were worried by the
dissidence of the Roman texts on innumerable points and topics
which did not all have an appropriately theological resonance"
(VIII.923). Could the Pope destroy the Roman law? Very possibly.
Still, it is impossible for the Roman system to destroy itself at the
interior, to dissolve its hold over the social imagination, as m y t h
and as dream. But mostly it is necessary to see in this obsessive
contact of the two laws "... irrefutable proof of the ambivalence of
the relations of imitation: Justinian's law must be at the same time
used and disqualified, it must be assimilated, but simultaneously
shown to be contradictory and therefore to be dominated" (VIII.923).
It is precisely in the medieval experience of a failed reconcili-
ation of the two laws that Legendre seeks a Law that mobilises
myth, a Law which descends at once both as a myth and as a system,
a Law from which the unconscious cannot be excluded. "The canon
law does not absorb the rules of Roman law, rather it continues and

extends itself (se prolonge) through them" (VIII.923). The canon law
tradition develops slowly, from myths and ideas of slower and
longer duration: imperial Majesty, written reason, God as legislator,
and the like. The emperor gives way to the pope, the oracular
mouth to the Christian mouth, to the mouth of Parliament, to the
mouth of the judge that declares the law, to the mouth of conscience;
each image is repressed for the sake of the next, but what remains is
the positive unconscious of a Law which continues to terrorise and
grace us, to carpenter our desires and our logic from within, so to
speak: "... the justificatory knowledge of law ... constitutes a
strategy, because politically the law mobilises beliefs. With regard
to the legal system we are not reasoning believers, but subjugated
believers, in the sense of the following orthography: of resonances.
We reverberate or echo legitimacy ..." (XI.508).

T h e Dogma of T h i n g s

Civilization m for Legendre the institution and territory of civil

law 7 m is propelled by memory, by repetition. Legendre identifies
the relations of fealty instituted across and through the descent of
industrial messages as structures of political love, structura
caritatis, redeeming the corporate body as a liturgical effect.
It is on the basis of structures of fealty already in place that the
imperial body harvests emotions: like 14th century Venice opening
her legs for the gold repetitions of the Adriatic. It is the function of
dogma to render the final destiny of the tribute inevitable
whereas its movement, like all genealogical movement, depends
precisely on a fortuitous event, on chance, on climate, or an acciden-
tal meeting.
The juridical mouth is the site of this accident ~ in so far as any
annunciation exceeds the occasion of its utterance, insofar as any
reinstatement of law is always and already an ek-stasis, a stepping

7 See P. Legendre, L'Empire de la v~rit~: Introduction aux espaces

dogmatiques industriels (Paris: Fayard, 1983), 171: "In the historical and
most disregarded meaning of this term, civilization is nothing other than the
empire of civil law". For further detail on this etymology, see L. Febvre, A
New Kind of History (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), ch.10 ("Civilisation:
evolution of a word and group of ideas'3.

outside itselL s Dogma incarnates the law in the oracular m o u t h of

the emperor, and then also in the imperial b o d y of the Pope to
which tribute flows in the form of faith, fealty, faithfulness. T h e
industrial regime re-claims the imperial b o d y as its o w n through
and across the excitations of capital, the images of capital, these
alienations of capital: the romano-Christian body swells as meat, as
fruit, as bread: the moveable bodies of institutional life are not
representations; they do not "express" an inward or deep meaning;
they "... extend a libidinal surface". 9 The libidinal surfaces of the
world include the Law, which is not a sum of rules, not a collection of
s t a t u t e s , b u t a durable and heritable form of repetition within
which the unconscious makes itself felt as a deep structure, in all the
waiting rooms of sensation.
The legal object can only be created or destroyed in a symbolic
w a y , in effigy, in absentia, vicariously. But also and at once
ecstatically. It is in the metaphysical desire, the desire not for
bread, not for fish, but for an all powerful Other, the living voice of
the law, the voice of the oracle, for that " p o w e r which operates in-
the-name-of (au nom de), that is to say b y representation of the
unrepresentable" (XI.513), that the dogmatic function must be sought.
When the jurists of the latin movement had utilised the term of
vicarious (vicarius) to designate the titulary of an absolute power, the
emperor or the pope, and later on any monarch, they had naively
expressed a first truth of mythological essence: the emperor (or the
pope) is an alienated body, much like the slave, the vicarious servant of
Roman civil law, which manages (vices gerit) the goods of its master,
thanks to fictional formulations of ... extreme subtlety. (XL513)
It is Innocent III w h o compares himself at the Fourth Lateran
Council to Christ at the Last Supper. Innocent is the first pope to
call himself the Vicar of Christ, that is to say, not only successor to

8 See M. Heidegger, The Basic Problems of Phenomenology

(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 267: "The term 'ecstatic' has
nothing to do with ecstatic states of mind and the like. The common Greek
expression ekstatikon means stepping-outside-oneself. It is affiliated with
the term 'existence'. It is with this ecstatic character that we interpret
existence, which, viewed ontologicaUy, is the original unity of being-outside-
self that comes-toward-self, comes-back-to-self, and enpresents."
9 Alphonso Lingis, Libido: The French Existential Theories (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1985), 76.

Peter, but place holder or vice regent on earth for Christ himself. 1
The law is a place, with a mythical genealogy, a place d e p l o y e d
again and again to signify the descent of truth. Industrial life only
ever comes to know itself b y reference back to this absolute space
which knows, a sanguine space with an imperial figure at its center,
a theatre of truth which "... designates the logical place of a
discourse, a discourse which contains the oracle of power. "11
The divinity of the body which is alienated-for-power is a feigned
divinity, a theatrical staging, a sacred, that is to say, non-psychotic,
folly. As was very well understood by the glossators, this doctrine, which
has been well elaborated by Ernst Kantorowicz and Gaines Post, takes
us into the domain of fictions which figuratively represent the truth
[fictio, figura veritatis]. (XI.513-514)
The mouth of the law speaks "... a ready to wear (pr~t-d-porter)
fantasy, it operates b y the transmission of institutional speech in
the space of public law" (XI.527). It is in the ecstatic character of
the l a w that w e seek its destiny, in its ability to " m o b i l i s e
unconscious beliefs in relation to a discourse inspired b y the mystical
truth of the all powerful signifier..." (XI.520).
What can we learn from this fiction, from the perspective of a mark of
the dogmatic function for industrial culture? Very exactly this: we
belong to a culture in which the mystically alienated human body holds
the place of an absolute book. The State is issued from this image.
"Roman law puts inexorably into play what Bachofen has justly
designated as 'the triumph of Roman paternity'" (XI.518). It was for
d e c o r u m , for the honour and the dignity of their country (patria)
that Romans w o u l d die most readily: thus for Cicero dulce et

10 Gerhardt Ladner, "The Life of the Mind Around 1200", in Images and
Ideas in the Middle Ages H (Roma: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1983),
11 Legendre comments further on this point that "... science, in this
context, designates the logical place of a discourse, a discourse which
contains the oracle of power; a text of the Theodosian code revived in the
Justinian compiliation and in this title, for a long time glossed on the part of
the Bolognese Renaissance in the 12th century, is set a remarkable
expression for identifying this uncommon discourse: digna vox maiestate;
translated literally: the dignified voice of majesty" (XI. 510).

decorum est pro patria mori. 12

It is through and across the image and the name that the law
accrues its materiality: Severian, Bishop of Gabala and bitter
opponent of St. John Chrysostom at Constantinople, asks us to "...
consider how many officials there are through out the whole world,
and since an emperor cannot be present to all persons, it is necessary
to set up the statue of the Emperor in law courts, marketplaces,
public assemblies and t h e a t e r s - in every place, in fact, in which an
official acts, the imperial effigy must be present, so that the
Emperor may thus confirm what takes place, for the Emperor is only
a human being and he cannot be everywhere. "13 The social imagi-
nation is always and already a dogmatic space, a space founded on
the Roman distinction between private and public law, a space of
Rome as watched over by Law and as represented in its images.
The dogmatic function of the image is carried on the back of
Roman law and works itself into the patristic nervature of the
Christian prototypes. Mapped out and reconnoitred through the
Latin concepts of decus, decor, decet (dignity, decorum, honour), the
canonic image was pinned down to a principle of identity authorized
by St. Basil, and repeated again and again, as the dogmatic function
of the iconophilic text: the image refers to prototypes: honosqui eis
exhibetur, refertur ad prototypa. The images of the Christian world
are forms of fealty, forms of faith in an originary reference, in the
originary writ of the Incarnation, the dogma that God himself had
assumed human nature and could be reproduced i n his humanity:
great, strong father, sweet, sweet mother: Pantokrator, Glyko-
philusa, 14come and look.
We honour our tributaries in the form of reference. At the same
time, the captains of industry seem ignorant of their historically
assigned task to take up the image of the emperor, to install it in the

12 See Peter Goodrich, "Pro Lectione Pictura Est: Images of the Legal Body
in the work of Pierre Legendre," in R. Kevelson, ed. Semiotics and Law III
(New York: Plenum Press, 1990), 3-5.
13 Kenneth M. Setton, Christian Attitude Towards the Emperor in the
Fourth Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 1941), 196.
14 See Gerhart B. Ladner, "The Byzantine Iconoclastic Controversy," in
Images and Ideas in the Middle Ages: Selected Studies in History and Art I
(Roma: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1983), 66.

market places and on the street 15, to inherit the Caesaro-papal

awning of a power along with the cash register and the broom. The
organ of power is already there: the function must come from the
Other m for the child the Other is represented by the father, for
the captain of industry, the Other is a Symbolic father, that is to
say, a place formerly occupied by the author of the Law, Monsieur
Capital, Madame profit.
It is always on the basis of deep structures already in place, that
power floats, that a living writing spills over the boundaries of the
text and founds the liturgy of everyday life as this spillover effect,
screening the essential homelessness (Umheimlichkeit)of the law
by way of a reference back which retains, again and again, the sense
of a founding. If, indeed, the texts transmit themselves (XI.531), all
discourse is legal discourse. We can only speak the law.

The world of things is reproduced ignorantly, as is the world of

bodies. Hence the makers of things are also and at once the makers
of dogma: industry reproduces the measures of the body alongside
and through its manufactured things: the measures themselves
institute a b o d y of specific hungers, a body of habits, a body of
quantifiable desires for instituted things: a tin, a loaf, a slice. The
portions themselves are preconstructions of the body which only ever
comes to know itself in love or in desire against the dogma of the
But things are not so simple: things themselves are never so, they
are always and already living institutes of the law. The moveable
bodies of market space are object-messages through which the
corporation communicates its love for the subject and the free and
mobile mouth is attached to a corporation t h r o u g h - once a g a i n -
the image and the name. Legendre looks to the history of law for
the "mythological source of normativity in the Occident":
The problematic opened here by a history of law can be stated in the
following way: what is the mechanism by which the love of the object-

15 "Images of the Emperors were displayed the length and breadth of the
Empire in almost every place where it was proper to put them. Their setting,
however, had to be one worthy of them. A law of 394 A.D. for example,
orders that pictures apparently advertisements of actors, charioteers and
the like should be removed from public porticoes and other places in which
(imperial) images are wont to be consecrated." See Setton, supra n.14.

message (objet-messager) 16 in the western juridical tradition is put in

place and why is it that it has produced the essential doctrine of
industrial management, according to which a text is not an object of
love but a simple transmitter of information? It is probable that in this
transition we would find one of the great misunderstandings of inter-
cultural communication ... I will limit myself to some elementary
remarks, emphasising the mythological source of normativity in the
Occident. The starting point is the formula inscribed in the Digest: viva
vox iuris. (XI.513)
T h e things of the m a r k e t p l a c e are m u l t i p l i e d a n d d e p l o y e d as
f o r m s o f a t t a c h m e n t to the institution 17, "the purpose of [which] is to
reproduce [itself], it is the first of [its] functions" (XI.525). In o t h e r
words, the institution m u s t accumulate a b o d y , m a n y bodies, in o r d e r
to survive; it d o e s this b y just such proliferation of object-messages,
w h i c h take the f o r m of industrial p r o d u c t s in material civilization.
T h e r e is no substance w i t h o u t fealty;, n o b o d y w i t h o u t faith.

16 In L'Empire de la w~ritd,supra n.7, at 119, the term message-messagers

is coined with a similar impetus. In botli cases the literal translation of the
second term would be messenger or carrier, whereas the translation given
here plays upon the figurative sense of messager as forerunner or herald, as
harbinger or fate.
17 It is interesting to note here that the Japanese model of international
direct foreign investment seems to be based on just such a mythological
function of the thing, on investment itself as the vehicle for establishing
relationships of interdependence which bind the investing and host country
inseparably. Kiyoshi Kojima's work, Direct Foreign Investment, is
especially clear on the tutorial role of Japan as the investing-instituting
country as well as on the dLfferences between Japanese-type direct foreign
investment and Western-type foreign investment. He writes: "Until
neighbouring countries reach an economic level equal to Japan's and we
create interdependent relationships so close that they become inseparable.
Japan can never achieve international political and economic stability. We
might well take as one of our objectives the building of the Western Pacific
economic region into something resembling the European Community. I
believe that Japan should promote a network of intra-industry
specialisation, particularly with neighbouring countries of the Western
Pacific region in all the sectors of natural resources, agriculture, light
industry, intermediate products of the heavy and chemical industries and
the machinery industries and should raise the level of their economies and
build up relationships of interdependence that will be inseparable"
(emphasis mine). Kiyoshi Kojima, Direct Foreign Investment: A Japanese
Model of Multinational Business Operations (London: Croom Helm, 1978),

The b o d y is a reality of the longue dur~e, because faith is a

reality of the Iongue dur~e. There is no b o d y outside the law, no
hair, no tooth, no fingernail; no possibility of life beyond a certain
ratio of consanguinity, a certain closure of blood, a certain horror of
the Same: the body is instituted through its emotions. The history
of law comes to map out and reconnoitre the history, the lineage of
these emotions: Roman law contracts the b o d y from across the
distance of centuries because it is the positive unconscious of
institutional life m and institutional life is the dogmatic answer to
the e s c h a t a - the last things.

God withdraws, the emperor withdraws, Christ withdraws, the

King w i t h d r a w s ... the Bear, too, withdraws. But penitence
remains; it is through and across this historical envelope of canon
l a w is that the b o d y is contracted, t h r o u g h and across the
privatization of speech, the seclusion of the sinner, and the slow
decay of public penitence that the living body is repressed, repeated
and instituted as a deep structure, an enduring and heritable
structure whose emotional boundaries can only be studied and
mapped out over the long term (longue dur~e).
The emotions of everyday life are nothing other than dogmas
which have grown skins, forms of bondage to a nomadic law which
attaches itself to the body like its camel's parasite. It is precisely
because the law does not have a body that it speaks to us 19 in the
repetitions, the glosses of everyday life. It is not only, as Braudel
says, that every plant of civilization creates a state of bondage, 2
but that every state of bondage creates a plant, an organ, a body.
And still we have no history of waiting and watching corn grow.
It is to the law as a deep structure that we must look to recover

18 "Penitence, in the broader sense, embedded in the tradition of Ancient

Law, recovers not only the procedures of confession (public or private
penitence as the case may be), but the entirety of disciplinary rules thereby
defined by the canon law. In other words. Penitence constitutes a general
envelope, a mould of the canonistic system" (X.581).
19 "Although the Law lacks a body, it speaks. The dramatic and imaginary
role of fiction is that of acting as if this body existed" (XI.521).
20 F. Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century I: The
Structures of Everyday Life: the Limits of the Possible (New York: Harper &
Row, 1981), 188.

the sense of this bondage. It is to the structure of Law as structura

caritatas that we must look to understand the forms of attachment
that civilization reproduces alongside its vegetation a n d its
Portosans. It is to the law as a deep structure that we must look to
understand the inner body; like 16th century Italy we have still to
drain our swamps.
To talk of unconscious structures is not merely to talk about the
invisible history of tenderness and capital, it is to talk about the
structures of everyday life, it is to talk about the things themselves
as living institutes of the law, the repetitions of our wash-lines, the
"again and again" of our geometries, the endless ending of Europe or
of God; it is to talk about the face itself as the mask of the law. It is
to talk about the absolute Text without a subject (XI.508): the text as
the hyletic surface of history, a surface into which we inscribe,
again a n d again, the imaginary b o d y of an imaginary Other 21
without which we could not dwell within our own voluptuosity, or
see our own faces.

It is not obvious that Legendre is a brother of the A n n a l e s 22

h o r d e ; it is moreso that he is an exile a m o n g exiles. That his
commensality with the Annales group lies in the brute fact of his

21 ,,...a knowledge which has to be understood as the place which knows ...
one which we understand perfectly, because we are also savages, meat
carvers of the imaginary body of an imaginary Other" (XL510).
22 "Les Maitres de la Loi: ~tude sur la fonction dogmatique en r~gime
industriel," was originally published in Annales. Economies. Soci~t~s.
Civilisations, the journal founded by Lucien Febvre and Marc Bloch in 1929
and directed since 1956 by Fernand Braudel. The Annales historians are
devoted to honouring Hermes, "... a messenger god: mediator between gods
and men; god of communication with the dead and of access to the earth's
underground mineral wealth; god of eloquence and conversation and
inventor of the flute and lyre, thus of rational and aesthetic communication
alike; inventor of laws and letters and especially of insignia denoting
property; god of ambassadors, merchants, shepherds, wanderers and
thieves; god of exchange and of the redistribution of goods; guardian of
routes, creeks, passes, gates, public places, palestras, and frontiers;
mediator god between collectivities and individuals"m Stoian Traian
Stoianovich, French Historical Method: The Annales Paradigm (Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1976, 61). All these structures are the possible
objects of history m of a "history of all possible histories" w as practiced by
the Annales school.

hunger for the reality that outlives or outlasts another; or in the

conspiratorial jugglery that brings together psychoanalysis,
anthropology, philology, economics, sociology and natural science to
try to piece together the (Roman) law as a human experience among
h u m a n experiences in what Febvre termed une histoire ~ part
enti~re; or in the obsessive but happy search for a logic of adhesion
that operates at the level of the mystic, the mantic, the mystagogic
but is stored in the coils of one's entrails.
It is not at the extreme limits of that life which will be over soon
but in its daily litanies, its ready-to-wear fantasies and its ready-
to-speak fictions, in the laws which are forgotten because they are
always and already there, that fealty is to be found.