Lippens, RLG (2019) Withdrawing (from) Waste, and the End of Law: Reflections on Don DeLillo’s Prophecies in Mao II (1991) and Underworld (1997). Social Semiotics, 29 (3). pp. 364-376. ISSN 1035-0330

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An often heard phrase these days is 'There is something about this chaotic 21st century of ours ...'. The phrase is usually uttered when the current US government administration has sent out yet another (self-)contradictory statement, or when it launches another direct attack on the law (e.g. international law) and its institutions (e.g. the ICC). In this contribution an attempt will be made to outline the contours of this 'something'. This 'something' is not just present in the realm where government administrations operate. It lies at the heart of a new form of life which has become predominant in recent decades in globalizing culture: the life of aspiring, radicalizing sovereigns. This 'something', then, could the called the end of Law. In an age of aspiring and radicalizing sovereigns the Law, indeed law in all its forms and shapes, has become not just an irrelevance, but a nuisance and embarrassment as well. One of the manifestations of this irreverent sovereign attitude is the growing inability to accept waste, that is, an inability to live with all that generates waste (i.e. Law), and an inability to live with all that is waste. Waste, i.e. the accumulation of spent potential, is not what the aspiring, radicalizing sovereign wants. The sovereign's desires are all about conserving all potential. Although this new form of life -i.e. sovereign life that has withdrawn (from) waste- has become manifest only very recently, i.e. well into the 21st century, it had, in a way, been predicted by the novelist Don DeLillo in his novels Mao II and Underworld. The themes and images in both novels -DeLillo's only novels published during the 1990s- will be at the core of this contribution.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Taylor & Francis at - Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lucifer, sovereignty, Don DeLillo, path dependency, entropy, the end of Law
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Criminology and Sociology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2019 11:27
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2020 01:30

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