This week, I was told to think about the “violence of justification” – how we let go of valuing something for itself when we say why it must exist, where the thing is then reduced to a means to an end. It’s an apt thing to think about, especially as a law student, where law school is often experienced as a means to an end, rather than as a thing that can be lived in itself.
And it makes me wonder, why is it so? This is not to say every day of my first year has been filled with epiphany and wonder, but I have certainly not been enduring this like some torture I must get through to the prize of…a big paycheck? I feel almost guilty expressing how much I enjoy what I am learning, and how I even enjoy reading some of the cases (the volume of readings I have to get through is another story) because it’s like reading a tedious Victorian narrative of human failure and tragedy. But if I had to tell you where this is all going or why this is important in the grand scheme of my “life” – where many plans had been scrapped or rerouted completely – I wouldn’t know where to begin.
The notion of justification as violence also reminds me of Deleuze’s theory of close-ups in cinema – where close-ups are these moments of “pure affect” where the face escapes the linearity of plot and the contained nature of the character for just a few seconds. The moment of potential and indescribable feeling, before being resolved into the totality of a narrative.
That pure affect is how I feel about life at the moment – the unresolved, unbridled potentiality, before having to “choose” – justify – my life choice of going to law school. I don’t have to tell everyone why I’m here and where I’ll be going – just yet.
[the clip above is from a 1928 silent film "The Passion of Joan of Arc," possibly the best film for multiple close-ups, as well as a useful experiment in experiencing narrative and temporality]