Law attempts to govern life & death through the appropriation of images that give a fantasy of control over death. The functioning of the thanatopolitical state is underpinned by a perceived control over death & its representation. This means of controlling death is challenged when someone wishes to die in an untimely fashion. Death may be timely when the state engages in the officially sanctioned killing of the death penalty but not when the individual assumes such a power to decide. When an individual goes before the law to obtain a right to die, instead of confronting death, legal institutions evade the issue & instead talk about life, & its sacred & inviolable nature. Yet, in the same move, many exceptions to this sacred quality of life are carved out. One can see an example of this phenomenon in the area of Supreme Court decision making on physician-assisted suicide. In Washington v. Glucksberg, the applicants had died by the time of the Supreme Court's decision. Where did they go? Were they ever really there for the law? The Supreme Court decision attempts to recompose the notion of identic wholeness in the face of bodies associated with death & decay. It is, in other words, an attempt to arrest the process of death by composing a narrative that valorizes life. The case becomes a narrative about the threat to life or, more precisely, a threat to a particular way of life. In other words, the state's interest in preserving life becomes the interest in preserving the life of the state. The state must live on. The question then moves from being one of whether the individual applicant in a case concerning physician-assisted suicide should live or die to one that asks should we the court live or die? 32 References. Adapted from the source document.
In the past, culture was a kind of vital consciousness that constantly rejuvenated and revivified everyday reality. Now it is largely a mechanism of distraction and entertainment. Notes on the Death of Culture is an examination and indictment of this transformation - penned by none other than the Nobel winner Mario Vargas Llosa, who is not only one of our finest novelists but one of the keenest social critics at work today. Taking his cues from T. S. Eliot - whose treatise Notes Towards the Definition of Culture is a touchstone precisely because the culture Eliot aimed to describe has since vanished - Vargas Llosa traces a decline whose ill effects have only just begun to be felt. He mourns, in particular, the figure of the intellectual: for most of the twentieth century, men and women of letters drove political, aesthetic, and moral conversations; today they have all but disappeared from public debate. But Vargas Llosa stubbornly refuses to fade into the background. He is not content to merely sign a petition; he will not bite his tongue. A necessary provocateur, here vividly translated by John King, provides an impassioned and essential critique of our time and culture.