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Songs without Music

Songs without Music: Aesthetic Dimensions of Law and Justice

Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: 1
Pages: 316
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  • Book Info
    Songs without Music
    Book Description:

    In this pathbreaking and provocative analysis of the aesthetics of law, the historian, legal theorist, and musician Desmond Manderson argues that by treating a text, legal or otherwise, as if it were merely a sequence of logical propositions, readers miss its formal and symbolic meanings. Creatively using music as a model, he demonstrates that law is not a sterile, rational structure, but a cultural form to be valued and enhanced through rhetoric and metaphors, form, images, and symbols. To further develop this argument, the book is divided into chapters, each of which is based on a different musical form. Law, for Manderson, should strive for neither coherence nor integrity. Rather, it is imperfectly realized, constantly reinterpreted, and always in flux.Songs without Musicis written in an original, engaging, and often humorous style, and exhibits a deep knowledge of both law and music. It successfully traverses several disciplines and builds an original and persuasive argument for a legal aesthetic. The book will appeal to a broad readership in law, political theory, literary criticism, and cultural studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92221-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    • Prelude: Senses and Symbols in Aesthetic Experience
      (pp. 3-24)

      Introduction 1: A Musical Voyage. A little piece of music, the manuscript of which is reproduced above, might even now be heard as it flies through deep space aboard the Voyager spacecraft. It has been sent on a mission in search of other worlds, our frail hurtling embassy to the unknown.¹ A gesture to the galaxy, the regular pattern of sounds which these written signs denote has been chosen to represent something ineffable but eternal about our planet, about a species which happens to inhabit it, about a way in which that species expresses itself, about an aspect of its...

    • Fugue: A Prospectus for the Aesthetic Dimension
      (pp. 25-49)

      For every prelude there is a fugue; for every simple theme, a complex and polyphonic development awaits.¹ If the prelude represents the leisurely unfolding of an idea, the fugue expresses a fervent layering of thought. A musician from the Netherlands once said to me that he thought a fugue was just a malfunctioning canon. Somewhat defensively, I replied that a fugue was no more a kind of malfunctioning canon than the Dutch are a species of malfunctioning Germans. In fact, the fugue is one of the most elaborate and enduring forms of counterpoint. It begins with great simplicity—a single...

    • Motet: Statutes and Music—An Aesthetic Methodology
      (pp. 50-90)

      Look at the monumental change that has been wrought between theMagna Cartaand the prodigious legislation of the Tudors. In language, form, and style, these laws seem almost unrelated: the former as impenetrable and limited in scope as the latter are arrogant of their power and authority. Yet one grew with the utmost gradualness from the other. Listen to the miraculous changes that have been rung between the two-partorganaand plainsongs of the thirteenth century and the prodigious motets of Thomas Tallis, up to forty vocal lines in mazy coalition. Here, too, there has been so much formal...


    • Requiem: Green Death—Aesthetic Interpretations and Influences in the Death Penalty
      (pp. 93-129)

      Mozart′s Requiem begins as it means to go on: solemn, sparse, expressive of the hollowness of spirit which follows the death of a loved one.¹ There is nothing lush about mourning here. Instead, there is an empty, shattered sound: a muffled organ, staccato violins barely touching their strings, and a hushed tune, the thin voice of the oboes and the dark tones of basset horns cutting the air. The excruciating beauty of a Mass for the dead is its combination of peace and failure, hope and resignation. But in Mozart, irony adds complexity to its meaning for us. A Requiem...

    • Variations on a Theme: Metaphors of the Boundary and the Boundaries of Metaphor
      (pp. 130-154)

      What musical form expresses the idea of meaning through resemblance? What is the musical form of metaphor? It is surely the theme and variations.¹ Life itself is a theme with perpetual variations, twisting ribbons of DNA giving birth to the myriad forms of living matter around us. Repeated everywhere on a scale as vast as the galaxies and as small as an amoeba, the variation form derives from the tumult of nature and, in return, gives it voice. Perhaps because of this organic character, it is a form which has proved of unsurpassed resilience throughout the history of music.² From...


    • Quartet for the End of Time: Legal Theory Against the Law
      (pp. 157-189)

      Olivier Messiaen′s contemplation of the ″end of time″ has an apocalyptic quality which stems not only from the millenarianism that has influenced it—the day of judgment and the Book of Revelation—but from the human conditions of its creation. Written amidst the ravages of war and the moral and physical desolation of Europe, in the very heart of darkness, in the very depths of winter, Messiaen′s music is steeped in despair. In the snows of 1941, the world looked as if time itself had come to a stop, as if the Thousand Year Reich was eternal, and as if...

    • Quodlibet: Just Aesthetics and the Aesthetics of Justice
      (pp. 190-202)

      Music is not just noise: it has rhythm, harmony, tone, and so forth. But an important difference between the two is form, which is always a system for the channeling and control of power.¹ Noise without form is a weapon.² This is why the relationship of form to content, and the speaking of each through the other, has been such an integral aspect of theseSongs without Music. Formally, I have attempted to communicate my understanding of the meaning of law, the forces which influence it, and the nature of interpretation precisely through the structures I have developed and the...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 203-264)
  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 265-298)
  9. Index
    (pp. 299-303)