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Law, Culture and the Humanities

‘It Won’t Always Be Wrong’: 6(3) 394–419

© The Author(s) 2010

Morality and Monsters in Legal Reprints and permission: sagepub.
DOI: 10.1177/1743872110374264
Rational Authority

Sheryl N. Hamilton
Canada Research Chair in Communication, Law and Governance, Carleton University

Neil Gerlach
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University

How to govern in the face of radical diversity and seemingly intractable conflict? A key question
after 9/11, it is also central to dark fantasy literature.The literary answer is a return to legal rational
authority, specifically bureaucracy. We examine the novel, Benighted (Kit Whitfield), where the
Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity must manage relations between
the dominant lycanthropes and the despised underclass of humans. Developing other attempts to
theorize the monster in relation to bureaucracy, we suggest that within the novel bureaucrats and
the bureau function as ‘‘hopeful monsters,’’ sites for the ongoing negotiation of morality.

Legal rational authority; monster; bureaucracy; dark fantasy; morality.

“‘… in answer to your question, I think I have to say, yes. By the standards of my profession,
by the standards of [my] Department … my behavior was professional …’”

“‘You really believe that it was fit behavior for a member of a government institution?’”

“… ‘DORLA’s an odd place, Mr. Franklin”

“Not that odd, Ms. Galley. I’ve noted numerous cases where DORLA operatives were successfully
sued. As I understand it, there are almost monthly demotions within your ranks. Please let’s not
pretend DORLA isn’t accountable …’”

Corresponding author:
Sheryl N. Hamilton, Department of Law, Carleton University, 1125Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario,
Canada K1S 5B6.

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Hamilton and Gerlach 395

“…. ‘That does make us look accountable, doesn’t it. … those demotions are part of the system.
People do get publicly punished here; it’s good for the government to make sure it happens. But
they’ll never overhaul us. That would be too close to backing us up. Moon night’s too insoluble
a problem, and we’re too good a scapegoat. It’s easier to punish us at intervals than to make us
properly accountable”

“… ‘Then God help the country, Ms. Galley, because DORLA is the most unethical, inconsistent,
and unprofessional institution I can imagine.”

A typical exchange of ‘‘pleasantries’’ between two lawyers, Adnan Franklin and Lola
Galley, following the ‘‘roughing up,’’ while in custody, of their mutual client. Not surpris-
ingly, one lawyer is on private retainer and the other is a public servant. Also predictably
after such an occurrence, the accountability of the public institution is at issue. What
makes the exchange more atypical, however, is that one of the lawyers is a lycanthrope, or
werewolf. The other has a birth defect known as anmorphism, that produces “nons” or
“barebacks”–humans who have the disability that they cannot “lune” with each full moon.
Adnan Franklin and Lola Galley live in a society imagined by dark fantasy writer Kit
Whitfield in her novel, Benighted, where 99.6 per cent of the population is lycanthropic
and the remaining 0.4 per cent of citizens is charged with the task of keeping social order
during “moon nights.” What has resulted is a highly stratified society where lycos are
dominant, and barebacks suffer continual bigotry and institutionalized prejudice.
While most lyco citizens respect state-mandated curfews and engage in voluntary
“lock-up” on moon nights, some do not. Whether for reasons of vagrancy, youthful
rebellion, or because they are “prowlers,” some lunes roam the city–a danger to property,
to other lunes, and to barebacks. Unable to temper their desires and hungers with reason,
they must be controlled in order to prevent social chaos. And it is the Department for
the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity, or DORLA, that is charged with that
unenviable task. DORLA’s operatives (all barebacks of course) take on “dog-catching”
duty, restraining and capturing rogue lunes so that they can be safely kept in state shelters
until dawn, whereupon they resume their lives in positions of authority. Lola, a legal
advisor with DORLA, recognizes the irony:

They lay down the rules that set us to guarding them from each other every month. We bleed or
die and have to treat them with tender caution because if we hurt them the least little bit when
they try to kill us, the next morning they’ll rise from their beds and sue. For this, they call us
names and pay us nothing and let it be known that they despise us.1

Yet as interesting as the dynamics of racism are within the 2006 novel, Benighted, the
story is as, interestingly and less predictably, read as a complex commentary on the place
of legal-rational governance in a post-9/11 world.
In this article, we read Benighted as a site of the contemporary popular representation
of legal rationality and bureaucracy, with particular emphasis on the moral possibilities
of the monster. This novel is not the only such cultural resource. As we discuss in greater

1. Kit Whitfield, Benighted (New York: Del Rey, 2006), pp. 50-1.

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396 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

detail below, there are a number of locations where law and bureaucracy have been
characterized as monstrous in recent years: popular culture, academic writing, manage-
ment trade literature, and the media. In each of these forms of narrative, bureaucracy and
law have been critiqued because they supposedly do not respond to the needs and desires
of late modern or postmodern citizens. They are inefficient, amoral, and even immoral,
more concerned with maintaining procedure than with producing just outcomes. The
resulting injustices and the organization’s unaccountable power render these bureaucra-
cies monstrous. And yet, we argue that dark fantasy writing requires us to think again
about the potential of the monster in forms of legal rational authority.
In recent years, dark fantasy has been an extremely popular and profitable genre
with bestselling novels and films such as Phillip Pullman’s ‘‘His Dark Materials’’ tril-
ogy, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series,
Dark City (1998), Sergei Lukyanenko’s trilogy Night Watch (2006), Day Watch (2007),
and Twilight Watch (2007), Underworld (2003), and even J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter
stories.2 Dark fantasy is a genre within the larger category of what we are calling the
literature of the fantastic. The literature of the fantastic is distinguished by self-coher-
ent narratives which, when set in our current reality, tell a story impossible in the world
as we know it, but when set in an other world or future world is possible in the terms
of that world.3 Generally, it is divided into three genres including science fiction, fan-
tasy, and horror. Science fiction draws upon the imaginative perspectives of modern
science, attempting to locate itself in the real universe and present fantastic develop-
ments explicable in terms of the scientific worldview. Fantasy is usually set in imagi-
nary worlds where the modern scientific worldview is substituted by magical and other
non-rational perspectives and forces and horror involves the appearance of a super-
natural force into the everyday world, which is horrific because it cannot be explained
in the rational terms of modern science. Dark fantasy typically combines elements of
both fantasy and horror.
Of all the genres of the literature of the fantastic, dark fantasy must necessarily, given
its premises, deal with questions of how to organize and regulate the social field within
a world in which humans co-exist with fantastical creatures such as vampires, were-
wolves, zombies, witches, wizards, and so on. These works combine the ever-looming
possibility of fantastical intergroup conflict, with the inherent weakness of the human

2. Philip Pullman’s series began with The Golden Compass (New York: Del Rey, 1997), which
was followed by The Subtle Knife (1998) and The Amber Spyglass (2001). The Golden Compass
was released as a film in 2007. Laurell K. Hamilton’s series featuring necromancer Anita
Blake, began in 1994 with Guilty Pleasures (New York: Ace) and has continued with 15 other
titles. See Hamilton’s website at: Kim Harrison’s witch-for-hire,
Rachel Morgan, began in 2004 with Dead Witch Walking (Toronto: HarperCollins Canada).
Also in the series are: The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (2005), Every Which Way but Dead
(2005), A Fistful of Charms (2006), For a Few Demons More (2007), The Outlaw Demon
Wails (2008). Sergei Lukyanenko’s series has been translated from Russian as The Night
Watch (Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2006), The Day Watch (2007), The Twilight Watch (2007)
and The Last Watch (2008). The first two books have been made into films. J.K. Rowling’s
fifth book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Vancouver:
Raincoast Books, 2004) focuses, in particular, on the Ministry of Magic.
3. John Clute and John Grant, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (London: Orbit, 1999) at viii.

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Hamilton and Gerlach 397

being, all set in a world and time that looks almost like our own. They thus enable the
examination of a central issue of late modernity: the potential for society to degenerate
into a Hobbesian state of nature, a literal feeding frenzy, if means are not found to
enforce social order and maintain the necessary boundaries that allow for peaceful co-
existence. These worlds are peopled by monsters; difference is literalized at a species
level, with resulting hostilities and power imbalances between groups. In this setting,
the question arises of how to maintain social order in such a radically pluralistic society?
Many of these narratives offer up bureaucratized social forms as the potential mecha-
nism to resolve these tensions, not unlike their political philosopher predecessors. They
do not, however, do so uncritically. Another set of questions must then be posed. When
everyone is a monster, can the legal-rational logic of bureaucracy and law produce moral
outcomes? Can those entrusted to enforce the law maintain a moral stance in the face of
the amoralizing effects of bureaucratic operation?
Benighted, more directly and complexly than much other dark fantasy, explicitly
interrogates issues of morality, legal rationality, bureaucracy, and monstrousness, forcing
us to complexify the ways we understand their interaction. This complexity is mobilized
specifically, we suggest, through the figure of the monster of and within the post 9/11
bureau. In order to read it as a monstrous bureaucracy narrative, we first situate the figure
of the monster as a theoretical construct with scholarship in the social sciences and
humanities. We then examine how legal studies and organization studies have each taken
up the monster as a way to interrogate the workings of the bureau. Finally, we consider
the novel, expanding upon and developing Paul du Gay’s interpretation of Haraway’s
“hopeful monster” as a means to take account of contradiction and paradox inherent in
our always tenuous social contract.4 In keeping with the position of the novel, we argue
that the post-9/11 bureaucracy is a complex social site, productive of an ethical ethos that
should neither be removed from its broader social context, nor easily dismissed.

I.  Monster Theory

Although, as Donna Haraway claims, “[m]onsters have always defined the limits of
community in Western imaginations,”5 increasingly as social complexity demands that
we take account of a world of mutable borders, recognize our hybrid subjectivity, and
consider non-redemptive politics, scholars in the social sciences and humanities have
returned to the figure of the monster.6 Arguably, this most recent phase of ‘‘monster

  4. Paul du Gay, “Colossal Immodesties and Hopeful Monsters: Pluralism and Organizational
Conduct,” Organization 1.1 (1994), pp. 125–48.
  5. Donna J. Haraway, “The Promise of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d
Others,” Cybersexualities: A Reader in Feminist Theory, Cyborgs and Cyberspace, Jenny
Wolmark, ed., Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999, pp. 314–66, 191.
  6. We recognize that the monster has a long pedigree in theorizing boundaries; however, we
suggest that from the 1980s onwards, we are in a new phase of this trend. For interesting
discussions of the monster as a boundary-figure see Elaine L. Graham, Representations of
the Post/Human: Monsters, Aliens and Others in Popular Culture (Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers
University Press, 2002), Edward Ingebretsen, At Stake: Monsters and the Rhetoric of Fear in
Public Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), Margrit Shildrick, Embodying

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398 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

theory’’ was inaugurated by Haraway’s archetypical cyborg,7 but has continued to mutate
since that time. Actor Network Theory (ANT), with its focus on breaking down the
binaries that we normally employ to delimit boundaries between people and the things
with which they interact, has been at the forefront of recent attempts to define monsters.8
Generally, ANT takes the approach that they are entities who disrupt boundaries by
inhabiting margins and peripheries. Monsters are beings, objects, and ideas that live on
the edges of law and bureaucracy, often hybrids of that which is included and that which
is excluded, the sacred and the profane. As such, they disrupt established categories for
organizing how people relate to one another.
John Law’s collection, A Sociology of Monsters, is a groundbreaking work in this
tradition.9 Law argues we are all monsters as he defines them–heterogeneous entities
that are products of the sociotechnical relation between humans and machines–but that
some monsters are so privileged that they do not appear to be monstrous. Therefore, a
sociology of monsters should investigate sources of privilege, as well as the pains of
stigmatization and marginalization. Jeffrey Cohen makes a similar argument in his intro-
duction to Monster Theory: Reading Culture, but suggests that the monster is not tied to
sociotechnical relations, but rather is a cultural product that lives on the borders of cul-
tural categories. “The monster is best understood as an embodiment of difference, a
breaker of category, and a resistant Other known only through process and movement,
never through dissection-table analysis.”10 Others working with ANT have a narrower
definition of monsters, characterizing them as strictly marginal and outcast–“the
embodiment of that which is exiled from the self.”11 The monstrous self, which is impure
and hybrid, is very different from the privileged self who occupies more traditional his-
tories of social, economic, and technological location.12

the Monster: Encounters with the Vulnerable Self (London: Sage, 2002), David Williams,
Deformed Discourse: The Function of the Monster in Mediaeval Thought and Literature
(Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996), Kirk J. Schneider, Hor-
ror and the Holy: Wisdom-teachings of the Monster (Chicago: Open Court, 1993), David
D. Gilmore, Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts, and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors (Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), Jane Caputi, Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth,
Power and Popular Culture (Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 2004), and Richard
Kearney, Strangers, Gods and Monsters (New York: Routledge, 2003).
  7. Donna Haraway, “Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology and Socialist Feminism in the
1980s,” Socialist Review 80 (1985), pp. 65–104.
  8. For an introduction to Actor Network Theory see John Law and John Hassard, eds., Actor
Network Theory and After (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999) and Bruno Latour, Reassembling the
Social: An Introduction to Actor Network Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
  9. John Law, ed., A Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination
(New York: Routledge, 1991).
10. Jeffrey J. Cohen, “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)” in Jeffrey J. Cohen, ed., Monster Theory:
Reading Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), pp. 3–25.
11. Susan Leigh Star, “Power, Technologies and the Phenomenology of Conventions: On Being
Allergic to Onions” in John Law, ed., A Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology
and Domination (New York: Routledge, 1991), p. 54.
12. Ibid.

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Hamilton and Gerlach 399

The monstrous is often also defined as that which is out of place. Mary Douglas, for
example, examines the concept of displacement as intimately related to pollution.13 Dirt
is natural and necessary in a garden, but it is a pollutant in the living room and must be
removed. Social organization produces itself through such exclusions; the concept of
‘‘dirt’’ presupposes organization since displacement requires boundaries. Objects, events,
and ideas are perceived as anomalous, monstrous, and impure to the extent to which they
violate boundaries around which social organization is constituted.14 Michel Foucault
takes a similar view of the monstrous, but focuses on the organization of knowledge as
the basis of its definition.15 He argues that it is a disruption of institutionalized knowing.
Each disciplinary field has an ability to determine true from false propositions based on
the banishment of other ways of knowing. The monstrous is that which lies beyond the
outer limits of legitimate knowledge, expelled by the normalizing judgments of a given
episteme.16 In other words, the monstrous is the banished Other of orderly knowing. It
must be refused and contained by a given organization of truth.
The gender of the monster has been a relevant element for many monster theorists;
however, it was Barbara Creed, building upon psychoanalytic theory in general and the
idea of Julia Kristeva, more specifically, who proferred the concept of the monstrous-
feminine to analyze the representation and abjection of women within horror film.17 She
focuses on the doubled identity of the woman/monster. The horror of the mother is found
in her holding of the powers of life and death, her simultaneous representation of discon-
tinuity and reproduction, and of the two-fold desire for differentiation from her and “to
return to the state of original oneness with the mother.”18 She argues that in addition to
the archaic mother, there are a number of archetypical monstrous-feminine figures: the
vampire, the witch, the monstrous womb, and the possessed woman. While encounters
with any of these women contains elements specific to that instanciation, all “bring about
a confrontation with the abject … in order, finally, to eject the abject and re-draw the
boundaries between the human and non-human.”19
There are other scholars, like Creed, who focus on the way that monstrousness produces
and reinforces social norms and hierarchies, although not only those which are gendered.
René Girard suggests that practices of victimization of individuals and groups engender a
sense of solidarity among those who are being persecuted or Othered.20 He conflates mon-
sters and scapegoats and argues that their ritual extermination serves the purpose of

13. Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger (London: Routledge, 1966).

14. Brian Bloomfield and Theo Vurdubakis, “The Outer Limits: Monsters, Actor Networks and
the Writing of Displacement,” Organization 6.4 (1999), pp. 625–47, 627.
15. Michel Foucault, “Orders of Discourse,” Social Science Information 10.2 (1971), pp. 7–30.
16. Ibid., at 16.
17. Barbara Creed, “Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection,” Screen,
1986: 45–70 and The Monstrous -Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis (New York:
Routledge, 1993).
18. Ibid., 1986 at 64.
19. Ibid. at 53.
20. René Girard, Violence and the Sacred (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1977) and The Scapegoat (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986).

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400 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

strengthening the dominant group and the social fabric.21 Mark Ingebretsen argues, on the
other hand, that scapegoats and monsters are not completely interchangeable, because “the
monster hints at an allure and desire for which scapegoating does not completely account.”22
Monsters, then, for our purposes, are hybrid, heterogeneous subjects, objects, and
knowledges that straddle the boundaries between organization and disorganization,
legality and illegality, human and technology, and threaten the closure of social order. Yet
at the same time that we fear the monster and seek to control it, we also are fascinated
with it and what it might mean. In other words, “the monster polices the boundaries of
the possible.”23
And yet there are different types of monster. Drawing upon fiction of the fantastic,
Brian Bloomfield and Theo Vurdubakis (1999) offer a useful three-part typology for nar-
rating the monstrous.24 First, they suggest that monstrosity functions as a distorted mir-
ror. In this form of narrative, the monstrous is essentially human with some attributes
lacking and others possessed to a greater extent than normal. It is the fantastical equiva-
lent of Edward Said’s Orientalism. For example, the title creature of the film Alien (1979)
is a mirror of the relentless and voracious forms of organization that have come to domi-
nate capitalist societies, just as the android-like humans of Philip K. Dick’s stories reflect
the legal-rational subjectivity of modernity.25 Second, monstrosity operates as subver-
sion. The monster represents a break in the natural order, characterizing that which lies
outside of dominant value systems. It inhabits the unsaid and unseen of culture–that
which has been silenced and made invisible. The beleaguered humans of both Logan’s
Run (1976) and the original Planet of the Apes film (1968), for example, represent this
sort of challenge to the social and epistemological order of their societies. Third, the
monster is undecidability. In this narrative frame, no resolution is offered. Events in the
narrative could be the result of aliens or the imaginings of a troubled mind, the work of
a vampire or simply a devious criminal. Many episodes of the television series The
X-Files revolve around this sort of ambiguity as both paranormal and scientific explana-
tions are provided for the monstrous phenomena under investigation. We suggest that the
cult film, Donny Darko (2001) is another good example of monster as undecidability.26
The novel Benighted is the first-person narrative of Lola Galley, a “non” living within
a society in which she belongs to a very small minority. At the level of embodiment, she
is monstrous, and in many ways is treated as such. However, in this world, the nons
perform the important function of policing lycos on moon nights and consequently have

21. See the discussion in Kearney, Supra, note 6 at 37 and Marc Neocleous, The Monstrous and
the Dead: Burke, Marx, Fascism (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2005), at 42.
22. Ingebretsen, Supra, note 6 at 67.
23. Supra, note 10 at 12.
24. Supra, note 14.
25. Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (New York: Del Rey, 1996), The
Simulacra (New York: Vintage, 2002), The Penultimate Truth (New York: Vintage, 2004).
26. Bloomfield and Vurdubakis’ third classification coheres with a trend in the literature of the
fantastic labeled as “the weird.” Dating back to pulp fiction tales of H.P. Lovecraft, Clark
Ashton Smith and other fantasists of the first decades of the 20th century, it carries on today
in a new trend provocatively called “the new weird” by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, eds., The
New Weird (San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2008).

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Hamilton and Gerlach 401

considerable, albeit sporadically accessible, power. They inhabit a central position within
the legal order and produce a paradox: a despised minority has power over a prejudiced
majority. This is monstrousness as subversion–the presence of nons in a position of
power is a constant irritant to lycos and subverts their sense of the natural order of things.
The novel’s tensions emerge from this paradox. For the reader, another form of subver-
sion occurs. Lola is, like the readers of the novel, a non-lycanthrope. However, she is
monstrous within that society and the reader experiences that monstrousness and the
prejudices it wreaks upon her. In this way, the novel is a successful evocation of the
experience of belonging to a minority victimized by prejudice.
While there is much to explore in the novel around themes of prejudice, its emotional
impacts, and its effects on subjectivity, we are focusing on another level of monstrousness,
that related to representations of legal rationality. At this level, Benighted employs mon-
strousness as a distorted mirror to examine questions of morality within rule of law and its
offspring, bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is a law-based form of administration premised on the
idea that administrative decision-making should be subject to rules which are enforced by
a hierarchical system of overview that allows for legal recourse in situations where the
rules have not been followed. Bureaucracy adheres to, and gains legitimacy from legal-
rational authority, as opposed to either traditional or charismatic authority.27 It seems a
laudable basis for the governance of social institutions, but has always been subject to criti-
cism and ridicule. This is particularly the case in late modernity where the idea of ‘‘post-
bureaucracy’’ has taken hold of the managerial imagination and organizations of all types
claim to be in a process of de-bureaucratizing through downsizing, flattening hierarchies,
becoming more customer focused, and encouraging more entrepreneurial initiative from
employees.28 There are a number of critiques leveled at legal-rational organization, but one
of the most sustained and damning is the claim that it fosters amorality and even immoral-
ity in the name of efficiency and the achievement of organizational goals.

II.  Fictional Monsters in Law and Organization

The critique of bureaucracy as immoral or monstrous appears not only in management
discourse, but also, as we have noted, in popular culture, where representations of
bureaucracies focus on the more intense and dynamic consequences of legal-rational
organization in terms of sex, violence, emotion, power struggle, the personal conse-
quences of success and failure, and disorganization.29 Of all the genres of the fantastic,
science fiction, in particular, has been recognized as a rich site by a growing number of
legal and organization scholars concerned with late-modern legal rational authority.

27. For a discussion of the three types of authority see Max Weber, “The Three types of Legiti-
mate Rule” in Amitai Etzioni, ed. Complex Organizations: A Sociological Reader (New York:
Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1961), pp. 4–14.
28. See, for example, Charles Heckscher and Anne Donnellon, eds., The Post-Bureaucratic
Organization: New Perspectives on Organizational Change (London: Sage, 1994).
29. John Hassard and Ruth Holliday, “Introduction” in John Hassard and Ruth Holliday, eds.
Organization–Representation: Work and Organizations in Popular Culture (London: Sage,
1998), pp. 1–15: 1.

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402 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

Recently, Law, Culture and the Humanities published a special issue on “Galactic
Jurisprudence”30 while the journal Organization in 1999 published a special issue on
science fiction.31 There have been other works, particularly in organization studies, that
deal with science fiction themes as they relate to narratives of organization.32
We suggest four key themes emerge from this literature that, in varying ways, deal
with issues of the monstrous. Much of the commentary on science fiction in organization
and legal studies focuses on questions of our relationship to science and technology, often
representing it in dystopic terms. As Kieran Tranter and Bronwyn Statham point out in
their discussion of the film Star Trek: Nemesis, the monster in question is the clone and
the reaction of characters to clones parallels the hysteria that often accompanies policy
decision-making around cloning.33 The film offers a circumscribed critique of the genetic
determinism that underlies this fear and the authors argue that it is the hysteria that should
be the object of fear, not clones themselves. Bloomfield makes similar claims about the
prospects of artificial intelligence as represented in Stanley Kubrik’s 2001 A Space
Odyssey.34 The computer HAL in the film has become a cultural icon of the monstrous
consequences of technological development and its impacts on social organization.
More directly relevant to our own inquiry, a second and related theme in the litera-
ture explores the ambiguity of science fictional representations in terms of scientific

30. See Volume 3(3), 2007.

31. See Volume 6(4), 1999.
32. See Brian Bloomfield, “Narrating the Future of Intelligent Machines: The Role of Science
Fiction in Technological Anticipation” in Barbara Czarniawska and Pasquale Gagliardi,
eds., Narratives We Organize By (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company,
2003), pp. 193–212, J. Martin Corbett, “Sublime Technologies and Future Organization
in Science Fiction Film, 1970–95” in John Hassard and Ruth Holliday, eds., Organization–
Representation: Work and Organizations in Popular Culture (London: Sage, 1998),
pp. 247–58, Neil Gerlach and Sheryl N. Hamilton, “Telling the Future, Managing the Pres-
ent: Business Management Writing as SF,” Science Fiction Studies 27.3 (2000), pp. 461–77,
David Metz, “From Lancelot to Count Zero. Tracking Knights, Cyber-punks and Nerds in
Identity Narratives of Freelancers in the IT-Field” in Barbara Czarniawska and Pasquale
Gagliardi, eds., Narratives We Organize By (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Com-
pany, 2003), pp. 173–91, Martin Parker and Robert Cooper, “Cyborganisation: Cinema as
Nervous System” in John Hassard and Ruth Holliday, eds., Organization–Representation:
Work and Organizations in Popular Culture (London: Sage, 1998), pp. 201–28, Warren
Smith, “Computers and Representation: Organization in the Virtual World” in John Hassard
and Ruth Holliday, eds., Organization– Representation: Work and Organizations in Popular
Culture (London: Sage, 1998), pp. 229–45. Other fiction genres that have received some
attention include detective fiction (Gerardo Patriotta, “Detective Stories and the Narrative
Structure of Organizing: Towards an Understanding of Organization as Texts,” in Barbara
Czarniawska and Pasquale Gagliardi, eds., Narratives We Organize By (Amsterdam: John
Benjamins Publishing Company, 2003), pp. 149–70; Jerome H. Delameter and Ruth Prigozy,
eds., The Detective in American Fiction, Film, and Television (Westport, CT: Greenwood
Press, 1998)). These are products of a turn toward cultural studies and narrative analysis
in organizational and legal studies.
33. Kieran Tranter and Bronwyn Statham, “Echo and Mirror: Clone Hysteria, Genetic Determin-
ism and Star Trek Nemesis,” Law, Culture and the Humanities 3(3) (2007), pp. 361–80.
34. Bloomfield, supra, note 32.

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Hamilton and Gerlach 403

knowledge and its ability to provide an effective means of understanding human nature
and the world around us. As a rational knowledge form, it may be ineffective in address-
ing the dialectic between rationality and non-rationality in human nature. Sage Leslie-
McCarthy explores Isaac Asimov’s robot stories to argue that they challenge current
notions of justice based on the formalistic application of law.35 In a diverse society, rep-
resented in the stories by the presence of both human and artificial intelligences, law
cannot be premised on a notion of nominal equality because the society represented in
the stories is basically a slave society. Instead, anticipating a posthuman future, the law
must be based on a notion of the fundamental kinship of intelligent beings. Law must be
read interpretively, not literally. It is not static, but is a many-layered, evolving entity that
cannot be contained within precise definitions. As societies become more complex, so
too must the law.
In organization studies, such concerns center on the idea of management ‘‘science.’’
Also drawing upon Asimov’s work–his Foundation series–Nelson Phillips and Stelios
Zyglidopolous make an argument about the limits of management science within a plu-
ral society.36 In the novels, Asimov portrays a future society premised on ‘‘psychohis-
tory’’– a synthesis of psychology, history, sociology, and other disciplines that together
render the human future transparent and predictable. This is the holy grail of manage-
ment science, but inevitably problems arise in the novels from observer effect, scale
differences, unpredictable innovations, and the development of mutations among the
human species.
A third important theme in the study of science fiction, law and organization includes
a fear of the movement toward ever greater technical rationalization and management
authority in organizations and a corresponding fear of a loss of rationality in law. J. Gould
analyzes the film Alien as a contest between two superorganisms that are both victors in
the evolutionary struggle–the alien creature and the multinational corporation attempting
to capture it.37 The human characters are simply components of the rampant corporation
that dominates their lives. Similarly, in law, Peter J. Hutchings reads the film Blade
Runner through a post 9/11 lens to ask what sort of legal rationality is at work in a society
in which a central power is busy taming other worlds, where the Other (replicants) is
restricted to offworld zones, and where people (Blade Runners) are hired to execute them
if they wander into the central zone, i.e. crossing the boundary.38 He argues that ulti-
mately, the theory of right represented in Blade Runner is the right of the outlaw because
right is subjected to power in which state law undoes and exceeds its own foundations.
Here it is the state that becomes a monster. In a related way, Jason Bainbridge examines
the postmodern superhero in comics and finds that this figure exists in opposition to

35. Sage Leslie-McCarthy, “Asimov’s Posthuman Pharisees: The Letter of the Law Versus the
Spirit of the Law in Isaac Asimov’s Robot Novels,” Law, Culture and the Humanities 3(3)
(2007), 398–415.
36. Nelson Phillips and Stelios Zyglidopoulos, “Learning From Foundation: Asimov’s Psycho-
history and the Limits of Organization Theory,” Organization 6.4 (1999), pp. 591–608.
37. J. Gould, “The Destruction of the Social by the Organic in Alien,” Science Fiction Studies 7.3
38. Peter J. Hutchings, “From Offworld Colonies to Migration Zones: Blade Runner and the
Fractured Subject of Jurisprudence,” Law, Culture and the Humanities 3(3) (2007), 381–97.

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404 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

legal-rationality and is legitimated by supplementing the failures of the law.39 Superheroes

reflect the tension between a modern adherence to the rule of law and a pre- or post-
modern notion of transcendent justice.
Finally, a fourth important theme in the treatment of fiction within both legal and
organizational analyses is the question of morality. Many of the articles cited above
deal with this theme implicitly. Hutchings is exploring the morality of a state turning
away from its own legal principles. Leslie-McCarthy analyzes the moral implications
of maintaining highly restrictive borders around legal definitions of who has legal
rights within an increasingly complex and diverse society. Nidhi Srinivas explores
morality expressly by arguing that Philip K. Dick’s work takes on the theme of what he
termed “androidization” versus moral agency.40 Androidization refers to a situation in
which an individual is reduced to a manipulable instrument, focused on goals chosen by
others, with a corresponding moral indifference to the outcomes. This stands in opposi-
tion to the duty to maintain one’s moral agency as Zygmunt Bauman, Hannah Arendt,
and others have argued (and as we will discuss below).41
Thus, generally in legal and organization studies–the two academic fields most con-
cerned with the problematic of late-modern bureaucracy–we see important themes of
bureaucracy as monster, the political challenges of pluralism, the limits of an inflexible
legal regime, and the loss of morality seemingly inherent to bureaucratization. Yet at the
same time, there is a latent lament in much of this literature for ‘‘better law’’ assuming
that this is both desirable and possible. The diversity represented still falls on a continuum
measured by reason and the monster works as a negative construct, rather than a source
of alternative conceptualization, as the theorists of the monster call for.
Interestingly, despite the fact it is one of the world’s major literary growth sectors
and its stories have been made into commercially and critically successful films, dark
fantasy has received little attention from scholars of law and organization.42 Dark fan-
tasy has been defined in different ways as a synonym for gothic fantasy43 and as an
emotional reaction, a sense of creeping horror, provoked by literature.44 More usefully,
John Clute and John Grant distinguish it by the way in which its settings are often a
combination of our known world and a fantastical world of horror, and also by its

39. Jason Bainbridge, ‘“This is The Authority. This Planet is Under Our Protection’ – An Exege-
sis of Superheroes’ Interrogations of Law,” Law, Culture and the Humanities 3(3) (2007),
40. Nidhi Srinivas, “Managers as Androids: Reading Moral Agency in Philip Dick,” Organiza-
tion 6.4 (1999), pp. 609–24.
41. For example, see Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
(New York: Penguin, 1994).
42. Dieter Riemenschneider, “Global Fantasy – Glocal Imagination,” Journal of Postcolonial
Writing 41.1 (2005), pp.14–25, at 14. Literary studies has neglected the study of fantasy writing
or has addressed it simply in terms of postcolonial studies, generally regarding it as the incur-
sion of precolonial mythical consciousness forcing its way into the realist storytelling mode.
43. Gary K. Wolfe, Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy (Westport, CT: Greenwood
Press, 1986).
44. Chris Morgan, ed., Dark Fantasies (London: Time Warner Books UK, 1989).

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Hamilton and Gerlach 405

refusal to conclude on a hopeful transcendent note.45 It is this combination of necessary

boundary play, of colliding worlds, and of a non-transcendental narrative which makes
dark fantasy literature a particularly rich source for the consideration of the bureau-
cratic form. Often dark fantasy literalizes a master figure that has come to characterize
law and bureaucracy in recent years–the figure of the monster–and yet issues of who
is or is not a monster are not necessarily mediated through science and technology, as
it often is in science fiction. Recognizing that social actors are often mutually mon-
strous to one another and that the social fabric is always fragile, makes dark fantasy
less prone to moralize. Instead, it offers, we suggest, the potential for Donna Haraway’s
“hopeful monster.”
Haraway, building upon her earlier work on cyborgs and the potential of speculative
fiction, argues for a monstrous politics, a non-transcendent politics of pluralism. She
asserts that what we are calling the literature of the fantastic is a site in and through
which we can analyze the “promise of monsters.”

Science fiction is generically concerned with the interpenetration of boundaries between

problematic selves and unexpected others and with the exploration of possible worlds in a
context structured by transnational technoscience. The emerging social subjects called
‘‘inappropriate/d others’’ inhabit such worlds. SF–science fiction, speculative futures, science
fantasy, speculative fiction–is an especially apt sign under which to conduct an inquiry into the
artifactual as a reproductive technology that might issue in something other than the sacred
image of the same, something inappropriate, unfitting, and so, maybe, inappropriated.46

Borrowing from Haraway, Paul du Gay, writing in the field of organization studies and
contrary to other bureaucracy critics, suggests that such monsters may exist within the
boundaries of legitimate organization and law. He diagnoses two kinds of monsters.
Immodest monsters, who inhabit the centers of society and who desire a coherent, stable,
unified identity are engaged, he argues, in a “colossally immodest ambition rooted in the
silencing of other voices.”47 He rejects this monstrous search for a centred identity at all
costs in favor of a second type of monstrousness–hybridity, impurity, discordance, and
overlaps–which he terms “hopeful monsters”.48 In this sense, he argues, we are all mon-
sters in the sense of being heterogeneous collages, the products of several interlocking
histories and cultures that can never be permanently unified. Within a pluralistic society,
different realms of life must be governed by different values in order to minimize the
inevitable conflicts that arise within a heterogeneous, diverse society. It is in the hopeful
monster, we suggest, that the possibilities for ethical bureaucracy exist and despite its
bleak narrative, we argue that Whitfield’s novel demonstrates how its protagonist Lola
negotiates the tensions and complexities of being a hopeful monster, and suggests that
bureaucracy itself can be simultaneously monstrous and hopeful.

45. Supra, note 3 at 249.

46. Supra, note 5 at 301.
47. Supra, note 4 at 126.
48. Ibid.

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406 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

III.  A Bureaucracy of Monsters and Monstrous Bureaucracy:

Considering Benighted
The world of Benighted is parallel to our own in most ways, including its modern pro-
cesses of social control. In a passage that parallels Foucault’s opening to Discipline and
Punish, Lola reflects upon the history of attempts to control luning.49 In medieval and
early modern times, those who were caught luning were accused of witchcraft and suf-
fered corporal punishment in the form of torture and burning at the stake: “… witches
were declaring their wicked deeds on every rack in the continent. It was a legalistic
process, the witch hunt, there were degrees of torment imposed in regular sequence and
forms of confession to be gone through, and it worked with an efficiency that seemed
like divine justice.”50 However, over time, a more reasoned approach took over and the
Catholic Church began to recruit nons as an order of guards empowered to enforce
curfews, inspect people’s lockups, bear witness at trials, and generally provide a regular
application of consistent laws. The result was a rationalization and bureaucratization of
the treatment of lunes as the Age of Reason approached. As in Foucault’s world, how-
ever, the problem remains of how to manage those who cannot or will not submit to
disciplinary power–the ones who cannot be entirely tamed. The answer–offered both by
the modern state and Whitfield–is the use of reasonable force according to a set of laws
and bureaucratic rules.
The bureau is the organizational form which has emerged to address the administra-
tive needs of the modern nation state governed by rational-legal authority and Max
Weber is its foremost analyst.51 Contrary to some of the popular characterizations of his
ideas, Weber was not completely critical of bureaucracy. Indeed, he suggested it was the
best way to create efficient, flexible, and competent regulation under the rule of law. To
accomplish this, however, the bureau is ideally characterized by a series of specific
First, bureaux should reflect the continuous organization of official functions and be
bound by rules, both procedural and substantive. In other words, we expect the Passport
Office to be open five days a week for a fixed number of hours each day and to operate
in a predictable way, not on the whims of the individual employees or managers. Second,
bureaux are defined by task specialization and bureaucrats have legally defined powers
to carry out those tasks. Further, the authority that officials hold over citizens is limited:
taxation officers can audit or fine taxpayers, but they cannot take away their driver’s
licenses. Third, the organization of the bureau is hierarchical, following principles of
super- and sub-ordination. Each lower office is under the control of a higher one. This
structure also includes an appeal of grievances from lower to higher offices. Fourth,
officials have technical training that qualifies them to be part of the administrative staff,
usually certified by public examination. Fifth, in the ideal bureau, there is a separation of

49. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage, 1979).
50. Supra, note 1, at 27.
51. Max Weber, A Theory of Social and Economic Organization (New York: Free Press, 1964);
see also Weber, supra note 19, and Max Weber, Economy and Society (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1978).

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Hamilton and Gerlach 407

members of the administrative staff and ownership of the means of production. The tools
of work are provided to employees and are not their personal property to be used for
personal purposes. Finally, all acts, decisions and rules are recorded in writing by
officials for both future reference purposes and for use as evidence in complaints.
The outcome of these ideal attributes is decisions that are objective and procedurally
focused, treating citizens equally regardless of their position within society, relying for
legitimacy upon expert knowledge, and never arbitrary or motivated by personal reasons.
The official, then, is one who accepts the hierarchy of the bureau, strictly adheres to
procedure, distances herself from her personal moral beliefs and attributes, and commits
to the goals and objectives of the office. The office becomes a vocation. The impersonality
of both decision-making and maker is an improvement, Weber posits, over the previous
system of patronage and personal favouritism.
The Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity operates
according to a number of the maxims of the ideal bureaucracy, working to operationalize
rational-legal authority. All citizens born anmorphic are conscripted into DORLA because
of the scope and unrelenting nature of the challenge to social order. As Lola notes,
“There’s a choice of what you can do within it, but no question, ever, of not working for
them. It’s too big a job, and being non-lyco is too rare a birth defect ….”52 At various
points, Lola describes her work as a “profession” and a “vocation.” She received two
years of legal training to prepare her for her work, and while her legal education is not
as extensive as that of lyco lawyers, her education was supplemented with classes in
administration, animal training, and marksmanship.53 Lola’s work practices are governed
by rules and procedures. When apprehending lunes on moon nights, DORLA catchers
are to use their collar first, with their tranquilizer guns as a last resort. They also carry
guns with silver bullets, but are not supposed to use them at all. They are subject to sanction
in the event that they do not follow these procedures and these processes are tied directly
to the appearance of accountability and fairness. Lola tells readers, “[e]very disciplinary
board meeting somebody gets punished, just to show people like Franklin we’re answer-
able, some of the time.”54 At DORLA, this is called “getting strawed,” a reference to
In addition to its internal procedures and regulations, DORLA, given the nature of its
work, is governed by laws as well. “They’re old, our laws, they’ve bent and twisted
under the weight of history, and nobody but us studies them much.”56 We see the indi-
vidual hierarchy within the organization in that Lola is a senior catcher and has a trainee,
Marty. As well, she regularly reports to her boss, Hugo, a fair man, but one who shows
absolutely no emotion in the disposition of his job–Weber’s ideal official. We later meet
Hugo’s superiors as well when they must intervene in a case. Finally, Lola is part of a
regime of report-writing and faces the difficulty of translating her experiences of being
attacked by a pack, almost having her throat ripped out by a lune citizen in wolf form,

52. Supra, note 1, at 9.

53. Supra, note 1, at 26.
54. Supra, note 1, at 71.
55. Ibid.
56. Supra, note 1, at 25.

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408 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

and her trainee panicking and shooting a lune in the leg with a silver bullet in order to
save his own life, into the bureaucratic, impersonal language of her workplace.
Yet, while placing a bureaucratic organization at the center of the novel, the narrative
neither blithely recuperates, nor simply condemns, bureaucracy. Rather, it makes visible,
we suggest, the complexities of bureaucratic ethics within certain types of bureaucracy.
When two DORLA employees, friends of Lola’s, are shot with silver bullets, and she
must find their killers, we learn more about how DORLA actually operates and Lola
experiences an ongoing ethical crisis as she negotiates the boundaries of her work, her
position in society, and her own conscience. Lola’s bureaucratic demeanor is inadequate
to the tasks that she faces.
Of course it is not only bureaucrats themselves who question the functioning and role
of bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is an easy target. For at least the last thirty years, we have
been experiencing what Herbert Kaufman called the “raging pandemic of anti-bureaucratic
sentiment” stemming from frustrated citizens and government inquiries, neoliberal man-
agement gurus, and humanist academics.57 And yet Whitfield’s novel does not sugar coat
the bureau’s limitations– drawing out Franklin’s concerns stated in the opening quotation
that DORLA is inconsistent and unprofessional, and contemplating what many critics,
from the political right and left, have argued: that the bureaucratic form itself, is unethical,
is monstrous.
There are a number of critiques of bureaucracy that have emerged over the past few
decades. Robert Parker outlines the popular criticism as consisting of two images of the
bureaucrat: “one has this creature endlessly drafting diabolical regulations, ‘cunningly
contriving new controls over the private citizen’ while extending its own malign influ-
ence. The other has bureaucrats positioned as idle loafers ….”58 Not unrelated to popular
perceptions, the most consistent attack on bureaucracy has come from management writ-
ers who, since the late 1970s, have advocated a post-bureaucratic shift in the management
of organizations in all sectors.59 This critique corresponded to the rise of neo-liberalism in
the political sphere and shares many of its assumptions about deregulation and individual
responsibilization. From the post-bureaucratic perspective, bureaucracies are bloated hier-
archies more focused on their internal processes than on meeting the needs of clients,
customers, and citizens. Consequently, they become uncompetitive and inefficient. Their
chains of command and adherence to rules render them unable to ‘‘learn’’ from changing
conditions in their environments and they are, therefore, unable to adapt to the constant
and rapid market and political changes that characterize late modernity. In order to be
more effective, these writers advocate that organizations flatten their hierarchies, open
themselves up to customer influence, and re-engineer their labor processes to allow
employees to exercise initiative, energy, independence, self-reliance, and a willingness to
take risks–the opposite of how management gurus view the character of the bureaucrat. It

57. Herbert Kaufman, “Fear of Bureaucracy: A Raging Pandemic?” Public Administration Review
41.1 (1981), pp. 1–9, at 1.
58. Robert Parker, The Administrative Vocation (Sydney: Hale and Iremonger, 1993), pp. 53–4.
59. See, for example, William Ouchi, Theory Z (New York: Avon, 1982), Thomas Peters and
Robert Waterman, In Search of Excellence (New York: Warner, 1984), and Richard Tanner
Pascale and Anthony Athos, The Art of Japanese Management (New York: Warner, 1982).

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Hamilton and Gerlach 409

is not only organizational structures and tasks that must change, but also the identity and
subjectivity of the employee.60
A third critique, most pertinent to our analysis, characterizes bureaucracies as inher-
ently unethical because they separate reason and instrumental rationality from emotion,
pleasure, and other dispositions that produce a whole moral individual. Consequently,
bureaucrats become soulless occupants of an iron cage of rationality.61 Benighted plays
with all three criticisms of bureaucracy to some extent, but its primary concern is the
ethical critique. At the level of bureaucratic subjectivity, the novel is a contemplation of
the ethical considerations of bureaucrats operating in a highly problematic context.
Indeed, when we see that DORLA “takes care of its own,” that it operates as a world
unto itself, that lyco citizens can disappear into its underground cells for weeks at a time,
subjected to physical abuse to secure information or confessions, and that officials seem
to regularly engage in a form of reverse racist revenge on lyco prisoners, it is difficult
not to be sympathetic to Zygmunt Bauman’s claim that bureaucracy functions as a
“moral sleeping pill.”62
Bauman suggests that bureaucracy, in distancing human subjects from each other,
serves to dehumanize the objects of bureaucratic operation. Those objects can then be
expressed in purely technical, ethically neutral terms.63 In Modernity and the Holocaust,
Bauman argues that one of the functions of bureaucratic organization in modern society
is to constrict people’s moral nature.64 Consequently, the Holocaust was not an aberration,
but rather a culmination of the guiding spirit of our civilization and its priorities. Normal,
civilized people, who worked in bureaucratic organizations and enforced the law, paved
the way for the Holocaust while sitting at their desks.
This outcome could occur, according to Bauman, because of the form of subjectivity
that bureaucracy imposes on people. For Bauman, bureaucrats, unlike Lola, are not
reflective and are not interested in debating the goals of the organization; instead, they
narrowly focus on the task at hand. They accept that the significance of the job is not
related to the person who carries it out, but rather to the importance that others place on
it. They see the world as a set of problems that are soluble in a rational and scientific
way. They despise unpredictability, spontaneity, and chance. They refrain from personal
opinion and accept the truth statements of the organization.65
The result of this devotion to organizational goals and truths is an instrumentalization
of morality in relation to organizational goals and a disregard for the moral substance of

60. Tom Peters, Liberation Management: Necessary Disorganization for the Nanosecond Nineties
(New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1994), Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice
of the Learning Organization (New York: Doubleday, 1994), and Michael Hammer and James
Champy, Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution (New York:
HarperBusiness, 1993) are classic examples of the post-bureaucratic discourse.
61. Paul du Gay, In Praise of Bureaucracy: Weber, Organization, Ethics (London: Sage, 2000),
pp. 3–4.
62. Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust (Oxford: Polity Press, 1989), p. 26.
63. Ibid, at 102.
64. Ibid.
65. Ibid., at 90.

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410 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

the goals themselves. For Bauman, morality within bureaucracies is not about self-respect,
integrity, empathy, autonomy, conscience, or individual responsibility, but instead self-
sacrifice, obedience, duty, discipline, and docility.66 In other words, bureaucratic moral
‘‘virtues’’ de-emphasize the moral quality of an act and emphasize the technique of the act.
The question for the bureaucrat is not whether the act is morally appropriate, but whether
it is in conformity with specific rules laid down by organizational authorities. Being
moral in this context means being obedient and rule-abiding. Bureaucrats become Philip
K. Dick’s androids.
In his Postmodern Ethics, Bauman provides both a further critique of bureaucratic
morality and an alternative to it. He suggests that the “technocratic” morality of manage-
rial ideology alienates us from our moral nature by providing a rule-governed ethics that
manipulates the individual moral impulse.67 This ideology teaches us that morality does
not come from the inside, but is a matter of collective rationality. An action cannot be
moral if it is not based on a collective moral rule. Morality is a process of conforming
oneself to the rules laid down by moral experts within one’s community, namely those
of higher rank within the organization. The reason why individual morality must be
discouraged within bureaucracies is because the individual moral impulse is a source of
autonomous behavior and poses the potential for subversion of authority; therefore, it is
not very welcome in organizations.68
To neutralize the moral nature of its members, bureaucracies employ three strategies.
The first is the denial of proximity. Since proximity is the space of intimacy and morality,
those who are affected by bureaucratic operation can become faces gazing back at one
and prompting a moral impulse. Conversely, proximity can also be a space of hatred
and immorality.69 The organization operates to create a distance between itself and
those who are the objects of its actions. Law is the most common technique for produc-
ing this distancing; those negatively affected by the organization may resort to the law
or rules, but as long as organizational members have followed the rules, they are not
morally responsible, even if they are found legally responsible. One must appeal to the
law, not to conscience. In addition to law and rules, moral distancing is accomplished
by an appeal to complexity. What the organization does is so complicated and involves
such an intricate chain of actors, individual members are only a small part of the action
and cannot be wholly responsible.
The second strategy of managing the moral impulse is “effacement of face.”70 This
involves denying the other the status of moral subject who can demand a moral response.
The other is not worthy of moral consideration because he or she is not a moral person.
The result is a dehumanization of that category of person. Bauman’s example is the treat-
ment of Jews and others during the Holocaust where slander and propaganda constructed
these people as amoral objects of contempt.71 Finally, the third strategy of moral control

66. Ibid., at 160.

67. Zygmunt Bauman, Postmodern Ethics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), p. 124.
68. Ibid., at 125.
69. Ibid., at 83.
70. Ibid., at 127.
71. Issues of face and its effacement and their relationship to morality are a significant trope
within the novel and could ground an essay in their own right, particularly situated in relation

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Hamilton and Gerlach 411

is “reduction to traits.”72 The object of action is disassembled into traits that bear no
moral quality. For example, customers are not whole persons, but a set of specific,
statistically determined traits not worthy of moral consideration–a collection of needs
and demands.
Through these three strategies, organizations create a social space in which rational
calculation, rather than non-rational moral impulse, determines action.73 These strategies,
combined with processes of command and coercion, liberate employees from moral
considerations. Informing someone that they must abide by the rules or face disciplinary
action incapacitates that person’s moral instinct and makes it predictable, directing it in a
way assumed to be in the interests of the organization as a whole.
Certainly, there are characters in Benighted who fit Bauman’s description of bureau-
cratic subjectivity. Lola’s boss, Hugo, is someone who follows the bureaucratic ethos in
a way that seems distant and morally detached. Lola describes him by stating, “I meet
his eyes, gaze to expressionless gaze. He was right all along. If you stay dead on the
surface, you don’t get pitied, you don’t get pried into, nobody presumes on you with
their judgments. A blank face gives you privacy.”74 However, Lola herself, and many
of her workmates, are far from emotionless drones formalistically applying laws and
bureaucratic rules. For example, she has an alcoholic client, Jerry, a repeat offender, who
has been charged once again with loitering. However, rather than simply applying the
law to imprison him, she looks for a way to help him to avoid prosecution and receive
rehabilitation. While talking to a less-experienced social worker about Jerry, she says:

What we want is an exhausted [judge] who can’t be bothered to follow through with the law.
It’s one of those laws that a lot of us would ignore if we could. I mean, not every case, there’s
a lot of people cause us a lot of trouble loitering, but the screw-ups like Jerry … the law isn’t
going to help at all. It’s just a rule we’ve got to do something with if someone breaks it. … We
just need a judge who can’t face following through with the whole business.75

Lola’s reaction to Jerry paints a picture of a bureaucratic functionary who does not
exactly fit the image painted by Bauman. She will not simply apply “technocratic
morality” to a situation, but is quite capable of moral autonomy while carrying out her
professional duties, in a way that does not challenge the authority of the institution and
its management.
Given Lola’s law enforcement duties, she is unable to completely distance herself
from the prowlers and other lunes who are the objects of her work. She is subject to the
moral imperatives that proximity demands of her. These imperatives can take the form of
pity, a desire to help, or anger and hatred. When Marty, Lola’s trainee, is injured by a
prowler named Seligmann, Lola strikes Seligmann several times during an interrogation,
fueled by his taunting and unrepentant attitude. A lifetime of taunting at the hands of lyco

to the work of Emmanuel Levinas. We were only able to deal with them to some extent in this
piece given our other objectives.
72. Supra, note 67 at 127.
73. Ibid.
74. Supra, note 1, at 436.
75. Supra, note 1, at 110.

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412 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

bullies wells up inside of her and she compromises her professional ethics, the bureau-
cratic rules, and the law by beating him. However, despite her attempts to reduce him to
a set of traits in her mind, she is unable to do so, showing that she is still capable of
autonomous moral consciousness. She is unable to efface his face, however much she
despises it.

Seligmann looks at me again. My hand is raised, and I can’t hit him. I can’t. I have to do
something with my hand, so I place it on his head to turn his face toward me. My fingers twitch
at the texture of his greasy hair. I can feel the heat of his scalp through it. All I can see is a
human being that I’m hurting.76

Lola is remarkable in this sense. Despite growing up as a member of a despised minority,

living a life of abuse and discrimination, and working in a traumatizing environment
punctuated by terrifying violence, she does not give in to her damaged psyche to act in a
purely unethical way. She lives within the space between law and morality as defined by
Georgio Agamben in his study of how we remember Auschwitz.77 Agamben questions
the use of law in addressing the extreme situation of Auschwitz because a legal ruling,
such as that of the Nuremberg Trials, creates the sense that the problem has been over-
come. However, he argues, the problem is so enormous that it places the very idea of law
into question and confuses law with morality and ethics.
Auschwitz shows that we have a problem distinguishing between law and morality in
our society and when considering the moral wrongness of such an event, people tend to
think in terms of responsibility and guilt. These are legal categories, not ethical ones;
ethics is about how to live a happy life and does not recognize guilt or responsibility as
categories. The ethical duty in an extreme situation such as the one Lola faces is to retain
one’s humanity and to attempt to survive with dignity and respect. This may be impos-
sible in a concentration camp, as either guard or inmate, but perhaps it is possible in the
bureaucracy, contrary to Bauman’s view. This is Lola’s difficult struggle.
Lola’s fellow interrogator, Nate, has no such difficulty. He is able to distance himself
from the object of his work, proceeding to beat Seligmann further and feeling frustrated
and annoyed that it is not intimidating the victim. For him, Seligmann is just another
undistinguished prowler with no specific face. The technology of the act of interrogation
takes precedence over its moral quality. His actions fall within the collective norms of his
work group, which may not entirely match the bureaucratic rules. This seems particularly
true of law enforcement organizations as demonstrated by Lola’s former trainer, Bride,
who reminds Lola, “You can’t trust them [prowlers] an inch, Lo, you know that. Balls to
what the law says.”78
Bride is referring to the Kendall Statute, which makes it illegal for citizens to resist
detainment more than would be expected of a reasonable person who is luning–a mon-
strous twist on the standard of the ‘‘reasonable man’’ instantly rendering the monster
reasonable and the official monstrous. Lola notes, “[i]t’s one of the vaguest laws on the

76. Supra, note 1, at 97.

77. Georgio Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive (New York: Zone
Books, 2002).
78. Supra, note 1, at 77.

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Hamilton and Gerlach 413

books.”79 DORLA catchers, knowing the risks they face, encourage each other to sub-
Kendall. “Sub-Kendalling means tranking a fighter, then pleading the Kendall Statute
whether it was life or death or not. Word against word, yours against the lyco who is
waking up with a trank hangover. It’s a pretty fine distinction. If you stop to read the rule
book, you aren’t around to plead the law next morning.”80 In such a context, then we see
that the rules become flexible. Although it is not entirely within the spirit of the Kendall
Statute, sub-Kendalling has become a working norm in DORLA–a part of its organiza-
tional culture and informal ethical code. This code is an attempt to find a balance between
personal survival and following the laws that produce some sort of order–the same ethical
dilemma faced by everyone on a day-to-day basis.
Lola’s character poses a challenge to Bauman’s claims, showing a more complex, and
more realistic portrayal of the sorts of dilemmas faced by people working in bureaucratic
organizations. At a theoretical level, du Gay also challenges Bauman’s claims, arguing
that they are based on a misinterpretation of Weber.81 He points out that

in this reading then, Weber’s central theme is assumed to be the increasing instrumental
rationalization of all spheres of human conduct, the crucial role played by bureaucracy in this,
and the ethical and emotional disfigurements this produces … Similarly, bureaucrats are
rendered inhuman through their representation as specialists without soul and ‘‘automata of the

Du Gay argues, instead, that upon a closer reading, Weber does not treat the “impersonal,
expert, procedural and hierarchical character of bureaucratic reason and action as unethi-
cal or morally bankrupt.”83 Instead, it comprises an ethos–a set of purposes and ideals
within a code of conduct and a means of conducting oneself within a particular life-order.
In other words, the bureau, as with other social domains, must be morally and ethically
assessed in its own right and not according to some universal standard. Weber believed
that “modern, highly differentiated societies are comprised of many discrete ethical
domains and these neither represent different versions of a single homogeneous good nor
fall into any natural hierarchy.”84 He goes on to suggest that we inhabit different orders
of life, that each is subject to different laws, and that the different value systems of the
world are in inevitable conflict with each other.85 The office produces the bureaucrat with
a vocation, a commitment to participation in a distinct sphere of life which provides the
individual with “a distinctive ethical bearing and mode of conduct.”86
What are the moral attributes of the bureaucratic ethos? Du Gay suggests that the very
attributes that Bauman views as amoral define the bureaucrat as a moral figure.

79. Supra, note 1, at 76.

80. Supra, note 1, at 77.
81. Supra, note 61, at 4.
82. Ibid.
83. Ibid.
84. Ibid., at 4–5.
85. Max Weber, “Science as a Vocation” in Peter Lassman, Irving Velody, and Herminio Martins,
eds., Max Weber’s ‘Science as a Vocation’ (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989), p. 22.
86. Weber in du Gay, Supra, note 61, at 75.

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414 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

Continuing to draw upon Weber, du Gay refuses to accept that there is a unified moral
personality that underpins human action. Different spheres of existence or life orders
within modern society do not constitute the anomic fragments of a lost totality. There are
many discrete ethical domains, not fragments of a single homogeneous good. Within a
bureaucracy, attributes such as strict adherence to procedure, acceptance of hierarchical
sub- and superordination, denial of personal moral enthusiasms, commitment to the
purposes of the office, are all ethical and moral practices in that domain. They lead to
administrative decision-making that is not arbitrary, nor motivated by personal aims.87
Within a liberal democracy, the dedication of bureaucrats to the rules and procedures of
the organization allow for administration that is relatively free of corruption.
Yet if we accept du Gay’s (and Weber’s) argument that bureaucracy is not necessarily
unethical in its very nature, but rather that it is monstrous–constituting its own distinct
realm of ethical practice, according to its own norms and values, and producing its own
forms of ethical subjectivity, it nonetheless remains difficult to reconcile this with
practices such as DORLA’s systematized torture of accused citizens. At one point in the
novel, after mulling over the ways in which she has crossed her own moral lines, Lola
locates herself in historical continuity with the agents of the Inquisition.

I’ve been lying. If I ever said “they” about the Inquisitors, I was lying. The word I needed was
“we.” Because we were part of it, down to the last man. We change our names, we change our
methods, but this is my history. Four hundred years ago, I would have been a hooded Inquisitor,
and I can think of nothing that excuses me now.88

Lola is not accepting the moral relativity of her institution and the norms that have devel-
oped within it. For her, there are some universal ethical standards that cannot be obscured
by bureaucratic procedures, rules, and laws. The ‘‘us versus them’’ ethos of DORLA
would seemingly then be unable to ground an ethical institution. One explanation that
preserves the bureau as a site not, by definition, antithetical to ethics, is that DORLA is
a corrupt bureaucracy.
Indeed, Lola considers that very possibility, eventually describing her vocation as “a
vast network of cripples taking criminals and ordinary citizens by the heels, of prisons and
interrogations and acres and acres of paperwork obscuring what we do.”89 Bauman would
agree. And yet, it is not quite so simple; the monster is hopeful because Lola doesn’t stop
there. She continues: “[a]nd we tried to save people too, we didn’t want killers laying
waste around us, and that was real, unarguable, even to an atheist, and it’s still around us.
How can we be so corrupt, and still try to fight the wickedness of the world?”90
Here we see the dilemma that the novel takes on: the conduct of the bureau in “a state
of exception” to borrow from Agamben. In his 2005 book, State of Exception, he argues
that in times of crisis, a government may begin to exceed the legal bounds within which

87. Ibid., at 5.
88. Supra, note 1, at 423.
89. Supra, note 1, at 424–5.
90. Supra, note 1, at 425.

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Hamilton and Gerlach 415

its power normally operates.91 Citizenship and individual rights are normally dimin-
ished in this situation. For Agamben, Nazi Germany exhibited an extreme end point of
the state of exception, initiating a “civil war” allowing for the elimination of political
rivals and entire categories of citizens who could not be fitted into the political system.92
A state of exception allows a government to operate outside of the law and this situation
can be prolonged indefinitely as certain categories of citizens continue to have their civil
rights revoked, often in the name of security. Agamben and others have characterized
the current American regime as operating in a state of exception since 9/11, removing
the legal status of POW from captured Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, for example.
Agamben warned against a generalization of the state of exception in the United States
through new institutions such as Homeland Security which combines the Secret Service,
Border Patrol, Immigration, Customs, and eighteen other law enforcement and emergency
response agencies into one massive security system, and provisions such as the USA
Patriot Act which allow the President discretionary power to declare martial law and
other emergency powers as well as enhanced surveillance powers over citizens’ private
communications.93 He cautions that there is an increasing tendency of governments,
not only in the United States, to “rule by decree”–through executive directives, secrecy,
and public relations campaigns, rather than through the more cumbersome system of
parliaments and courts.94
The situation in Benighted is different in origin, but also produces a crisis situation
that is ripe for a state of exception. The moral flexibility of the bureaucracy as hopeful
monster does not sit well in a time of crisis when people are looking for unambiguous
answers and order. Society faces an intractable problem in luning, a natural and regularly
recurring breakdown of reason, legal norms, social control, and civil order. Luning
elevates the stakes to the risk of a fall into the state of nature governed by passions and
‘‘nature’’ rather than reason and law. The old laws for dealing with moon nights are
inadequate and DORLA, a powerful security organization designed to deal with the
problem, seems outdated and is not working very well. Contributing to this, DORLA is
staffed by a despised minority that receives little public sympathy or support. By the
end of the novel, Lola learns that there is a government conspiracy in place to produce
more nons in order to ensure that the security apparatus stays strong–a secret plot that
would not receive public support, but is deemed necessary, somewhat ironically, by a
ruling elite (of Lunes). Lola breaks solidarity with her persecuted group finding the
project abhorrent in its reproduction of a despised subclass, a status she would wish on
no child. These factors form the shifting political context within which the bureaucratic
apparatus of DORLA must function, always alongside the contradiction that although
they are charged with preserving order and saving lives and property, DORLA officers
are a despised caste.

91. Georgio Agamben, State of Exception (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
92. Ibid., at 2.
93. Georgio Agamben, “Non au tatouage biopolitique,” Le Monde, January 4, 2004, www.lemonde.
94. Supra, note 91, at 17.

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416 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

Lola notes the difficult position in which this ongoing state of exception places the
bureau and the untenability of the bureaucrat’s vocation: “[b]ut I guess it’s all come
through now, more paperwork, more examinations, more promises to the public that we
are their servants. If they tear our flesh from our bones, we won’t presume to bleed on
them.”95 In this way, Benighted’s consideration of bureaucracy suggests that Bauman’s
view is too quick to moralize, overlooks the benefits of rational-legal authority, and is
ultimately ahistorical. On the other hand, du Gay demonstrates his own ahistoricism in
positing the bureaucratic form as an ethos of relatively unchanging values that necessarily
contribute to democracy. Benighted suggests, we argue, that the bureau, at least in a state
of exception, faces challenges and contradictions that require of its agents a continual
negotiation of the bureaucratic ethos. This negotiation should not be easily written off
as bureaucratic corruption because it does not involve a complete abandonment of the
values of the bureau, of the rules guiding behavior, or of the practices of the vocation.
Lola, as hopeful monster, demonstrates throughout the novel that she is unwilling to
abandon the rules altogether. This is apparent in her attempts to help the repeat loiterer
Jerry by following formal procedures but in such a way that it will produce a just outcome
for him. When Jerry’s social worker asks why Lola does not simply ignore the rules, she
replies, “… you don’t get to come in here and question my career.”96 Thus we see that
Lola’s professional identity, her work, DORLA’s legitimacy, turn on adhering to rules,
even when the rules do not entirely make sense. Much of the tension in the novel is generated
by Lola trying to come to terms with her own sense of herself as a good DORLA operative
and a good person, and yet bending and breaking certain rules. She knows, however, if
she abandons the rules altogether, she will be lost.
This seems a very real prospect towards the end of the novel when the medical plot is
revealed and it is apparent that both Seligmann and Dr. Parkinson are murderers. Lola
decides to take matters into her own hands. She goes to the location where she knows that
Seligmann is being hidden by Parkinson and shoots Seligmann in the leg with a silver
bullet. She has shattered her bureaucratic demeanor and abandoned the rules. However, it
is not so simple. Lola does this very self-consciously. She refuses to hide behind the
bureau, freely admitting that she did not shoot him in self-defence, even though others
within both DORLA and her personal life offer her that easy moral out. Further, she does
not engage in that act of violence without significant self-reflection. We see her praying
for an hour, in tears, trying to convince herself (ultimately unsuccessfully), that she is
seeking justice and not merely revenge.
Readers again fear, in the denouement of the novel when she draws a gun on Dr.
Parkinson, that she has gone completely rogue; we worry that Lola’s own personal expe-
rience with a miscarriage has caused her to abandon her objective and impersonal
bureaucratic persona. However, we learn, with Parkinson, that the gun is not loaded and
Lola is merely trying to make sense of Parkinson’s motivations. She leaves his office
saying, “Now you know … That’s how it feels on the other side.”97 Just for a moment,
Parkinson is forced by Lola to inhabit the monstrous. Unlike when Lola beats or shoots

95. Supra, note 1, at 178.

96. Supra, note 1, at 110.
  97. Supra, note 1, at 499.

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Hamilton and Gerlach 417

Seligmann, in this scene, we are relieved rather than horrified. Lola vindicates herself as
a moral agent, perhaps doubly so, because it is a monstrous but not immoral act.
The bureaucracy itself, DORLA, ensures the conviction of Seligmann and he receives
a life sentence. Lola is assured by her superiors that Parkinson will be “dealt with” but
that she will never know how. This is a partial but incomplete response in Lola’s view,
but reflects the hybrid role played by DORLA, both implicated within the project to
ensure the continuation of anmorphism (and hence of the continuity of the organization
itself), and needing to respond to Parkinson’s violent criminal behavior.
Therefore, the result of abandoning some of the attributes that define the ideal
bureaucracy is not necessarily corruption, if we define corruption as the substitution of
the continued existence of the bureaucratic organization for its original larger purpose
or the substitution of individual personal motivations for bureaucratic objectives. Lola
and her DORLA colleagues keep the larger goals in mind, but are forced to change the
tactics by which they work towards those goals. The rules are not completely tossed
out, but are, rather, adapted in an ongoing struggle. This struggle is reflected in Lola’s
shame and angst in coming to terms with her implication in DORLA’s methods, but her
ongoing sense that their work is necessary.
Near the end of the novel, she and her doctor, Dr. Parkinson, argue about a world with-
out nons and hence without DORLA. Parkinson says, “[i]magine the chaos if anmorphic
individuals suddenly stopped being born.”98 Lola imagines it: “… DORLA would die off
in a generation. Aging catchers against younger and younger lunes, until a new society
took over.”99 And the novel suggests it would be a society characterized by the urge to
prowl, present within each of us. Because Lola recognizes: “[w]e all of us have our own
impulse to prowl. A prowler is the insects in your mind, the whispering demon that makes
your own little wishes gigantic and imperative, worth hurting for.”100 In other words,
we are all monsters. DORLA–bureaucracy–however imperfect, however monstrous in
Bauman’s terms, is the form of social organization that emerged historically specifically
to counter our propensity to prowl. Benighted offers a nuanced contemplation of the
difficult choices beleaguered bureaucrats must make as they attempt to adapt existing
rules and laws to a highly changeable, crisis-prone and dangerous context, suggesting a
possibility for hybrid identity, for embracing the complexities of diversity, and openings
for an ethical ethos neither completely contingent nor simply universal.

IV.  Conclusion
Benighted participates in a trend in dark fantasy literature of taking on the social and
cultural issues posed by late modern neo-liberal and neo-conservative governance.
Embracing, as it does a monstrous epistemology, the novel suggests that contrary to
critics and supporters alike, ethics in bureaucracy is a lived practice, complete with
tensions, contradictions and untenable paradoxes. A mobile figure of boundary-breach,
resistance, and hybridity, the monster (as both bureau and bureaucrat) remains hopeful,

  98. Supra, note 1, at 449.

  99. Supra, note 1, at 449.
100. Supra, note 1, at 296.

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418 Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(3)

perhaps even necessary, in the face of radical diversity and reflexivity towards transcen-
dental narratives. Certainly it is a figure that calls us to a more complicated assessment
of ethics, an assessment unaided by universal abstraction or naïve celebration.
In Whitfield’s world, we find an organization created to manage an intractable social
problem, but which is now running into the limitations created by its rules and by the rule
of law. While DORLA may be a rationalized form of management, it is less and less
effective in a climate of greater individuality, diverse ethical codes, and less respect for
governmental authority. As Lola and her co-workers seek to navigate this problematic
environment, a complex picture of bureaucratic subjectivity emerges. DORLA employees
are not authoritarian, Soviet-style bureaucrats intimidating citizens into obedience with
the threat of state power, nor are they free-wheeling, post-bureaucratic entrepreneurs
seeking to enhance their own place in the organization by making their own rules. They
are committed to the mission of the organization and personally identify with it–in large
part because they are anmorphic (non-lycanthropic). In order to get things done, DORLA
operatives sometimes fail to follow some of the important rules, but in general, they try
to follow the spirit of the rules and laws out of a sense of the chaos and arbitrary power
that would otherwise result. While the people they deal with are sometimes distanced,
faceless objects to them, DORLA employees are capable of self-reflection and individual
moral impulse toward these others, as Lola demonstrates. Contrary to Dick’s representa-
tion of bureaucrats as androids, Whitfield represents them as more complex beings who
attempt to employ bureaucratic rules to maintain a semblance of fairness even while
facing situations where those rules do not work well. It is in this struggle that they emerge
as, not subjects who are ethical as a state of being, but rather as ethical subjects, namely
subjects actively participating in the negotiation of an ethical ethos.
While the bureaucratic subjectivity of DORLA is complex, so is the situation of the
bureaucracy itself. Its members face the constant challenge of keeping the organization
functioning despite political and public hostility, opposition, and prejudice. Despite its
outsider status, however, some of those who work for the organization are aware that,
despite the types of claims made by du Gay and other theorists, a bureaucracy cannot
stand as an isolated moral universe apart from other social institutions. To do so leads to
an ethical exceptionalism that causes administrators to think their personal choices are
always for the broader social good and therefore, moral and ethical. The result can be
declaration of a state of exception by isolated elites, allowing them to bypass traditional
legal and democratic norms. In this way, Benighted and other contemporary dark fantasy
literature can be read as an engagement with the issues raised by the difficulties of
administering post-9/11 society.
After all of the violence, after learning that DORLA is involved in what Lola views as
an even more insidious plot to produce more nons, after her vocation seems a hollow
consolation for the actual practices of the organization, Lola remains with DORLA.
While not recuperated, the novel does force us to consider that bureaucracy in a state of
exception is a realm for the ongoing negotiation, rather than abandonment of, bureau-
cratic ethics. DORLA itself, repudiates and disciplines, but does not deny, the need for
Parkinson and his project. It, like Lola, is a hopeful monster. Du Gay argues, “[i]f we
are to survive in the environment we have made for ourselves, a world of difference,
incommensurability and antagonism, without resort to violent conflict then the ethical

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Hamilton and Gerlach 419

and political resources provided by the bureau are far from irrelevant or redundant.”101
Lola agrees: “I shall sort through them, I shall do it by the book, put my fellow citizens
gently into one tray or another, let their lives slip in and out of my hands and tidy them
back into the system. It will be simple, easy and it won’t always be wrong.”102

The authors would like to thank Susan Sheane and Emily Truman, both doctoral candidates at
Carleton University, for their invaluable research assistance.

101. Supra, note 4, at 141.

102. Supra, note 1, at 480.

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