Job, mask of sovereignty: sacrifice, transcendence, melancholy, responsibility

The Book of Job is a crystal. If each face hypothetically represents a different reading perspective, a virtual point of view to access the heart of the text, however, it is necessary to consider the existence of a phenomenon of birefringence, so much so that every monoexegetic perspective finds itself, if not to wrecked, at least taking on water from other perspectives. This evidently makes exegesis more fragile, more keen on fractures, without a stable one-dimensionality; on the other hand, even a conscious reading of its partiality can unexpectedly intercept the vision of the one who approaches from the opposite side of the crystal, thus telling more than what has been said. The key of interpretation chosen for this essay is the political one, or rather, due to refraction, the theological-political one. The reference to political theology necessarily links to the work of Carl Schmitt, the famous German jurist who, like few others in the twentieth century, probably by virtue of that strange mixture of analytical acumen and resentment that shapes only the greatest, helped to reformulate paradigms in the various fields involved (from bare political theory,1 to domestic law,2 to international law,3 always keeping an eye on the History of ideas4), traces for new conceptual paths. The other author, of course, is René Girard, who, unlike the first, has dealt extensively with the Book of Job in his book "Job: The Victim of his People".5 If the first is the arch that subtends, the second is a karst stream: in the middle, caught in a net of threatening looks, forced to a strabismus that binds it simultaneously to the sky and the abyss, stands the resistance of Job. According to the rich analysis of Carlo Galli,6 the categories of Schmitt’s juridical-political thought shape a two-faces Modern, thus attempting, through the genealogical approach, the impossible mediation between two poles: on the one hand the groundlessness of the origin as unavoidable exception that constantly exposes the system to an out-of-the-law, to a non-regulation, which calls for a necessary interpretation to get out of the mimetic undifferentiation of civil war (of which the state of nature is but a logical transposition) produced by the collapse of transcendence; on the other, the problem of representation forced to form the decision on the exceptional case. Only that choice produces the sovereign, that is to say that there is a very close co-implication between the authority performance and the origin (intended as ur-sprung, as "emergence") of the sovereign himself, of his being-subject: therefore a decision that always functions as a decision for representation (compulsion to a form, to the icon, to the person, to whom the magmatic Nothing of the crisis is brought back) and which must simultaneously assume responsibility for the order and at the same time for its negation. The implicit tragedy, the consubstantial fragility that pervades sovereignty in Schmitt’s thought, according to which "the decision parts here from the legal norm, and […] authority proves that to produce law it need not be based on law",7 is given this icastic description by Galli: «[speaking of the plane of transcendence produced by the sovereign decision] And for this creation of form and order the sovereign draws energy precisely from disorder, from the exception; nor is this abyssal action given once and for all, indeed the disorder and the exception remain, within the order, as potentialities that are always present".8 In the present essay this theoretical subtext will be held into consideration for its entire development; however, as it goes far beyond my abilities to produce an encompassing and at the same time seductive fresco of political philosophy and modern history, we will concentrate on the first chapters of the Book of Job, to find in his story the archetype of a fragile sovereignty, exposed to the abyss of the crisis and at the same time missing an authentically “other" transcendence, in the belief that it is possible to detect interesting recurrences and analogies, and trusting in those allusive potentialities that only an eternal text is able to disclose. Shakespeare’s Richard II,9 amidst the ocean of possible references, will serve as a bridge to reconnect the issue of sovereignty in Job to the rough and violent terrain from which the modern State sovereignty arises.

It is known that some important exegetes, for example Girard and Philippe Nemo,10 have not much taken into consideration the spurious chapters of the Book of Job but, so to speak, backwords. Girard, expecially, takes these chapters as pure mythical interpolations, textual traps that trap the power released by the main body of the text, that of the dialogues. Yet, by reworking Derrida’s dictation, we can bet on the fact that precisely those texts which, unwittingly, try to hide the traces, end up revealing themselves by retracing their steps.

Some suggestions in the first chapters perhaps cannot simply be considered as a mythical veil of the rising violence of a community necessarily aimed at a sacrificial expulsion. In the quiescent state of reflection of two sovereigns, where it actually seems that the divine authority is found in the faithful humility of the vicar Job in perfect and full imaginary correspondence, Satan slips in, certainly envious of this plenitude of two. The autos of divine authority, the "self" at the heart of sovereignty,11 is threatened by the accuser’s instigations: God seems to fall for the provocation out of pride. The test is aimed exclusively at God: the temptation, the gamble, is to fulfill the sovereign/of the sovereign legal obligation even when confronted with injustice and evil. Satan therefore tries provocatively to break through, to exceed the self-referentiality and circularity of the Law meant as horizontal juridical transcendence (a transcendence, therefore, which is able to neutralize the mimetic contagion that flares up in immanence).12 Satan shows the substance of the Law as a sacrificial mechanism; the original expelled one is "everyone" who is not Job, whose visible charis indicates him as the chosen one and at the same time is a magnet that polarizes by retaining community violence, as if the reflection between God and the "humble" Job became the measure of a self-reflection that suspends even the time of a community that, in this interval, is excluded, separated from the relationship with God. Does God proudly come to accept the challenging dialogue with Satan precisely because in these words it is possible to spot the trace of an out-of-Law, out-of-regulation relationship? Wouldn’t it therefore be possible to detect a ruthless but authentic masterful result in the gesture of Satan? Certainly ruthless, because from this moment the difficult parable of Job will begin, from being a ruler cloaked in charis to becoming a kydos disputed in a mythical slaughter game. Satan reveals the sacrificial mechanism that moves the duel over Job’s body (like the Kafkaesque machinery in the short story "In the penal colony"), reminding God that the true sovereign choice forces a decision that, from the inevitable exception of the crisis, proceeds beyond the self-referentiality of the system. This sovereign choice leads to a relational tension starting from the suspension that is inherent to it: among the rubble of the previous order, sovereignty potentially approaches the response to a call and, subdued to an unsustainable responsibility, looks at the excluded with anguished eyes, remaining faithful to the decision that cuts and parts "from the inside" the unity of juridical transcendence itself. The value of Satan’s provocation lies therefore in removing the divine sovereignty from a self-referential and absolute posture; the exception dissolves the ties of the Same, it overturns authority in an anarchic way by grafting the call of Others on the heart of the Same, so that from the juridical transcendence of the sacrificial system a window could open that moved by a different relational tension (perhaps, why not, this opening towards an "other" transcendence is what will gradually emerge as a law of nature, also conceived in its defensive and individualistic guises, but still open to an incorruptible transcendence).13

It is certainly no coincidence that, once the mythical mantle is removed, the episode from which the Book of Job originates can be traced back to the moment of a dismissal, to the loss of a power that is respected and feared as much as it is ephemeral. Satan obstructs the circularity of the reflection between God and Job; an unbridgeable distance opens up between the two. This distance, meant as silence and exile, creates considerable consequences in the protagonist: 1. the evil inversion of that sacredness which made Job a sovereign idole to the community is now transposed into being outlawed, banished, exposed to a death that cannot be traced back. to the law;14 2. the fall from the health of an almost mystical body – because in the grace of God – to the pains of a body that begins to travel the desolate lands of history; 3. taking up the categorical scheme of Jean-Luc Marion,15 we can guess a correlation between the decline of idolatry and the recovery of distance: the distruction of the simulacrum of sovereignty in which Job was sealed can be read as a possible rectification of the transcendence diverted towards a different ethical straightness started with the vertical transcendence: the creatural solitude of the exhibited is the limit to which the Infinite tangentially approaches, capable of disrupting the Totality of the sacrificial system. Keeping oneself open to transcendence will be for Job the most sincere way to meet God, to recognize a Justice beyond the Law. The process, the siege, the disqualification of the sovereignty of Job become an exemplary model for all those major crises that watch the plateau of transcendence that provided the necessary legitimacy to resolve the conflicts between the parties fall into the abyss of exception. The ritual reference to the "ancient way of the guilty" by the "comforters" acquires its terrifying compulsion not only if we picture it within a previous tradition, rather, just as Job does, if we think of it as a trajectory towards posterity, a sign of any epochal forces which, in the midst of the disasters of new mimetic undifferentiation crises, mark the attempt to find a new fit, immunizing the fragile community and coordinating the mimetic flows that condition the "political".

At the origin of the disintegration of the medieval ordo we find, as a tragic example, king Richard II magnificently portrayed by Shakespeare and dissected in some admirable pages by Ernst Kantorowicz in "The King’s Two Bodies".16 Richard II is the tragedy that reveals, like few others, the disintegration of the image of the sovereign. In the image, precisely because of its virtual essence, in which presence and absence are no different, the eternal "corporation" and the mortal remains of the sovereign come together: "The king is “twin-born” not only with greatness but also with human nature”17. Shakespeare’s poetic intuition helped to abolish the monopoly that jurists and glossators held around the mystery of the sovereign’s"twinning", restoring the theme in the eternal form of a character and a story that acquire the prestige of an archetype around the origin of the Modern. The sovereign parable of Richard II, his personal detour along the ancient road, is a road marked by the “split", an alienation that reflects those mimetic thrusts that always harm the heart of real identity (in Shakespeare, then, the theme is more than a simple recurrence) and which, by extension, come to infect the epochal idea of ​​subjectivity (specific of a time) – of the sovereign authority as a metaphor (see cit. Schmitt, AND)18 –. "The duplications, all one, and all simultaneously active, in Richard are those potentially present in the King, the Fool, and the God. […] Those three prototypes of “twin-birth" intersect and overlap and interfere with each other continuously».19 This coexistence of multiple figures, this unsustainable and perverse synthesis, then combined with bright sentences pronounced by Richard himself («Thus play I in one person many people»20) certainly refer to Hobbes, to the immortal image embedded onto the baroque frontispiece, both for the configuration of the multitude into a population in the image of the sovereign,21 as for the strange alchemical process given off by the leviathan evocation of the Commonwealth (the Leviathan is at the same time mortal god, great animal, great man and automaton).22

As if the first piece of the Quadrilogy were, in itself, a fractal, not only of the entire cycle, but which, through progressive estrangement and dialectical reunification, figured as synecdoche of the entire process from which political modernity originates. The arc that describes the crash to the ground of sovereignty by divine right is captured in all its moments: the royal unity does not seem threatened by the split when Richard, returning victorious from Ireland, enhances himself in the glorification of his royal condition. "What he expounds is, in fact, the indelible character of the king’s body politic, god-like or angel-like",23 precisely because "The breath of worldly man cannot depose | The deputy elected by the Lord"(III. Ii. 54).24 But from a young age Richard has actually always had to defend the sovereign corporation from the assaults of those social forces, of those indirect powers, which claim rights by kicking off shreds of a royalty divine as much as exposed: be they the peasants led by John Ball committed to subverting the law by referring to an "other" law, or the Lords Appellant involved in more earthly logic of power. Forgiveness and repression, solomonic wisdom and ferocious intransigence, do nothing but polarize the mimetic tensions even more, transforming the signs of divine grace into signs of the victim. When Henry V, once the process of delegitimization of the divine royalty is complete, will come to confess that the king is "subject to the breath of every fool", the eternal repetition of the royalty’s sacrificial cycle is once again celebrated in its fulfillment and at the same time in its new beginning. The proud attitudes permeated with sacral liturgy, the desire to find outside of himself the evidence of the divine essence of his authority combined with the radical submission of even the most influential and prestigious subjects, already exposes an intrinsic fragility, a disconnection no longer repairable between body and transcendence, between "potestas" and "auctoritas". In the "autos" of the sovereign subjectivity, through the space of decompression between the body and the transcendence, crawl the look, the speech, the pressing desire of an alterity which, tragically, one turns to for recognition.

Back to Job: if in the first chapter it is by external actions that the sovereign is exposed (the classic mythological plagues that strike without there being a "real" responsible), with chapter 2, following an ascending climax, violence penetrates into the flesh, as if Job were separated and exposed to himself. If Job denied God, if he were no longer rooted into his suspension, hanging on to his own exile, he would simply be replaced in the ritual cycle of the change of sovereignty. By standing, instead, in the exposed condition of being-other-to-himself, that is, suffering but accepting the presence of others in the heart of the Same (referring to Levinas25), Job would remain open to otherness, to the absolute Other. Whenever sovereignty is questioned, subjectivity is simultaneously affected: if the change is ritual, mechanical, repeated, the sovereign subject also loses the historicity of the One, that which only a creatural ego can attest; this change is intended as final, self-conclusive, a solution to the vulnerability that constitutes the subject as passive-receptive. The mythical-ritual sovereignty therefore functions as a technical device, subservient to the mechanism of violence that can purify itself only through more violence: what ends up being hidden is the relational munus which in the community should be vastly shared but which at the same time carries the cum trauma from which the order tries to immunize itself .26

On the other hand, when the change of sovereignty leaves the wound exposed, when an obscure resistance, almost strange insomnia, disturbs the sleep of the conscience of the "righteous", the sovereign subject can find himself suspended in a deeply distressing condition, stuck in a time with no future horizon, abandoned at a risky threshold. To survive, the subject will be forced to remain steadfast in his own difference, he will have to inhabit the interval and block with his sole presence, with his face and his voice, the perfect closure of the system. The anguished suspension, as the emotional tone of the state of exception, imposes an above/ ultra-legal decision, a word that can dismantle the procedure: a break that must not, however, go along with the dictates of mythical violence, but instead speak of the "other" violence, capable of overturning violence itself from within. A violence with no control and anarchic, as a trace of a Me placed on the accusative which approaches the wound hosting the weapon that caused it and which, remaining vigilant in the Absence of regulation induced by the crisis, transforms the decision into responsibility, offering to the neighbor, by self-subtraction and letting-the other-be, the very possibility of relationship. Resisting the siege of the Others, enduring this possession that empties him of himself, Job hinders the snap action of the sacrificial trap. His drama therefore has the merit of bringing to light the relational nature of the "political", it forces the community in turmoil and the "comforters" to account for the causal relationship that exists between the creation of a unitary identity (also of the political community) and exclusion of the scandal, therefore imposes to look at the link even in the division.27

King Richard was therefore totally enraptured by the idea of ​​divine royalty, so much so that the eternal corporation finally transforms itself, read from a lacanian point of view, into an imaginary trap, a narcissistic fixation that acts on the one by capturing and sacrificing the subject on the altar of the ideal, and on the other hand proudly shields itself in an indefinite defense of his own royal Name, however renouncing a lucid strategy in the management of political relations.28 He is so sure of the eternal royal virtue and of his own dignity that he expects even the heavenly hosts to form a front willing to submit to him: "For every man that Bolingbroke hath press’d …, | God for his Richard hath in heavenly pay | A glorious angel".29 When pride, too human, turns to royal transcendence and its attributes as a symbolic support and not as a sublime task to submit to, it means that majesty has already become weak, broken, restless.

All this furious unleashing of mimetic passions, which will lead to the totemic meal of both the mystical body and the natural body of the sovereign, can only originate from the ban on the troublesome rival double: Hentry Bolingbroke. Linked by a scandalous double mediation, between the two sovereignty becomes the symbol of an eternal prestige that acquires a value proportional to the distance at which the mimetic rival is kept. As it often happens, the narcissistic daze that deceives you with its fallacious light and that feeds on object concreteness, and much more on the desire caught in the gaze of others, turns into an authentic terror in front of that other who scandalizes me with his sole presence. To inflict exile on the archenemy is to completely ignore the disrupting power of the ghost that can re-emerge at any moment, it is to imagine to be able to suture the essential lacerations of one’s self simply by obscuring that otherness that forces me to remember them, feeding the illusion of a super-empowerment of the Sovereign Person .30

In Shakespeare, the ruler is always haunted by ghosts that misalign the normal course of time and actions, throwing the royal authority into doubt, indecision, trauma, lack, madness. The subtle body of the ghost of the other will in fact silently infiltrate between the natural body and the mystical body of royalty, forever preventing them from joining. Shakespeare’s genius focuses on the moment in which the theurgic sovereign image is forever torn apart: in the origin of the Modern, exception and representation are definitively disjoint but together condemned to a dramatic co-implication (this is the trait, the mark of Cain, which Schmitt recognizes as an imprint of the Modern: an original disconnection that can be resolved, although never completely overcome, only by complex symbols, rich in folds and mysteries, such as the Hobbes’ Leviathan, which, according to the interpretation of the german jurist, must not only be recognized as a paradigm of "decisionism" – completing Bodin – but also as an authentic fulfillment of the Reform31)).

«The Universal called “Kingship” begins to disintegrate; its transcendental "Reality," its objective truth and god-like existence, so brilliant shortly before, pales into a nothing, a nomen».32 The institution itself thus becomes evanescent, mere flatus vocis, a pun. With shocking genealogical insight, Shakespeare shows that the "gemination" between the natural body and the mystical body, as a useful device to perpetuate the monarchy by divine right, can be subverted and thrown into the shapeless chaos of the crisis whenever the twinning is revealed in its violent essence: after all, every structure is always pushed back towards that tension between mimetic doubles (by extension, in a theological-political interpretation, between community and sovereign) aimed at expelling, for at least a slight fragment of history, its own violence against the more fragile and exposed one, realizing a transcendence that can synthesize the body of the excluded and the saving aura of peace finally achieved. The science of sovereignty is therefore always polemology (or stasiology33 according to the interesting formula with which Schmitt, interpreting Gregory of Nazianzo, reinterprets the Trinitarian relationship but also, more generally, every tension towards a single order that holds back, precisely because, as he affirms the Nazianzen in one of his theological orations "One is always uprising against himself"). To deconstruct politics as a sacrificial "text" it is necessary to be more orthodox than Schmitt in remaining faithful to the "political" as a formal criterion of the relationship, as a practice of facing and seeing each other, without the temptation to make of the other a substantial discourse, ontological, universal.34

Clouded by the balsamic vapors of divine royalty as by the deathly stench of the increasingly threatened natural body, emblematically, Richard embodies sovereignty as a condition suspended on the state of exception in the form of a surrender to being-present-to-himself , a desire for oblivion that leads to mirroring reactions, played by an internal mediation, the more furious the more the ghost shows itself as a disturbing non-dead, insuperable scandal: «I had forgot myself, am i not king? | Awake thou coward majesty! Thou sleepest, | Is not the king’s name twenty thousand names? | Arm, arm, my name! A puny subject strikes | At thy great glory."35 (III.ii.83).

Rhetorically, we could ask ourselves when it has ever happened that the literary tradition represented the sovereign figure, portrayed in its crudest creaturaliness, as a figure fully aligned with itself, or rather suspended, alienated, indecisive, excessive, tyrannical, passive. On the contrary, it often happens to find all the ambivalences in a single filthy tragic or grotesque mask. In this sense, the teaching of Job seems to me to be as crucial as it is underestimated.

In chapter 3 we find some particularly interesting aspects that suggest fertile analogies with the moment of transition between the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries, between Mannerism and Baroque,36 before the secularization process began to take shape as a hermeneutic key of modernity.

Within the dialogic chapters a prime trait of the figure of Job emerges: melancholy. Melancholy as the emotive tonality of the sovereign becomes that form of expectation that reveals a certain disposition to anguish, to a closure on one-self which however unveil an unsustainable receptivity to otherness as an event. This state, as elusive as it is all-encompassing, is brutally singular and therefore not attributable to answers according to a universal code: no signifying discourse is effective precisely because insignificance dominates unchallenged, that is, being thrown in front of the dismissal of any foundation. Because of this unsustainable condition the decision to reconstitute sovereignty as a form of subjectivity becomes urgent. Job scandalizes with his melancholy: he scandalizes his neighbor, who is forced to bring the exception back to a normalizing device (be it a clinical diagnosis or the Law).The sincerity of the melancholic catches the other in the act because it reveals to him the possibility (why not, he shows him without dictating) of remaining open, in front of himself but also of the Evil. By avoiding the norm, the melancholic acts like the mystic, who denies his body in order to deny the norm that has captured him: destabilizing the norm, the mere presence could reveal an "other" truth.

If in the second part of the chapter, in an oppositional logic that dominates the entire corpus of the dialogues, the perspective becomes more explicitly sacrificial, the red thread is suggested by a certain sudden awareness that melancholy turns out to be a stumbling block (to be seen in his whole double-sense of an element that causes the expiatory vise to snap but at the same time a presence that freezes and leaves us speechless) of the sacrificial device. In fact, Job sees himself as part of a group of "few", a tradition of few expelled for the good of the community. The sacrificial device wants to dull the opening of the melancholic condition that reveals the full and neutral positivity of the Law, that is, it reveals how the Law seeks to expel the exception and the decision from the scenario of sovereignty. The suspension of the melancholic is then impressed as a mark of sacredness. The dangerous exposure to which this sovereign solitude leads, however, opens up to the temptation of dissolution in the neutral, in death, in the eternal rest that the community "unconsciously" offers him. «Did I not tolerate, did I not be silent? Did I not keep calm? Yet the wrath [of God] found me»:37 these verses prove that exposure to threat is totally independent of impiety. Job faces his condition, scandalizing with his bare life, resilient in front of senseless and excessive Evil; right when only silence and listening, according to a distinct tradition that goes back from Lévinas to some pages of Sein und Zeit, would be the answer, the suffocating chatter of the "comforters" explodes, so much so that, in retrospect, in the silent and distant wait that followed their journey we finally recognize only a simple prophylactic expedient.

«But who can keep from speaking?» :38 the spontaneity to which Elifaz refers at the beginning of chapter 4 is the obtuse functionality, the empty automatism of the "government" technique. The accusation that is implicitly raised against Job proceeds substantially according to this scheme: you, Job, were the first to exploit the technical arsenal available to the sovereign to guarantee care and protection to the suffering neighbor (a way, moreover, to place him at a distance and to silence the accusation without vindication of which his face is proof, with all its scandalous burden) and now that your friends do the same to you, you complain and are afflicted with deep anguish? Eliphaz is really subtle in turning the accusation into a question: would Job not have the right to be the bearer of melancholic sincerity as he was not previously seen as impious, since in fact, as the sacrificial prescription states, only the impious are struck, while, at the at the same time, you, Job, were an official of the consoling norm. You must therefore accept to be brought back into a sort of juridical positivism, in the previously codified transcendence around which your life was articulated, renouncing to be an exception. On the opposite side, that of "sovereign melancholy", anarchic and destabilizing passivity, Job begins to understand that "tyrant" is only a mythical word: tyrant is that name that does not allow us to see the sovereign as a victim of the mimetic channeling of violence (the mythical anticipation of his nefarious transfiguration). The tyrant matter lets us bring another fundamental foothold in the network of allusions that the Book of Job allows to unravel. Walter Benjamin, with The German Baroque Drama,39 masterfully encodes the sovereign figure creaturaliness in his transition from tyrant to martyr first, to then transhuman as a puppet. These three images become constellations for a juridical-aesthetic history of modern sovereignty, and are particularly interesting for us to the extent that, on the one hand, they strongly determine the outlaw as the essence of tyranny, combined with the martyrological drama as its direct consequence, revealing, however, retrospectively, almost as a watermark, that Job’s is a drama and not a tragedy; on the other hand, making the juridical subtext contained in the Old Testament resonate with greater force. «The sovereign is the representative of history. He holds the course of history in his hands like a sceptre. This view is by no means peculiar to the dramatist. It is based on certain constitutional notions. A new concept of sovereignty emerged in the seventeenth century from a final discussion of the juridcal doctrines of the middle ages. The old exemplary problem of tyrannicide became the local point in this debate”.40 The issue, in short, revolved around the right to resist and the legitimacy of the "sovereign" act (coming from any indirect power) to undermine the usurper who had become a tyrant from the throne, however appealing to the law of nature as an indipendent external referent and thus exposing it to the most risky manipulation.

The Church should have healed the enormous fracture caused by the monarchomach theory (obviously the result of a long path that from being theological has increasingly shifted towards political and virulent). "The attitude of the Church had not lost its relevance; for in this century of religious conflict the clergy clung firmly to a doctrine which armed them against hostile princes. Protestantism rejected the teocratic claims of this doctrine"41 – towards a fulfillment that we, following Alessandro Biral beyond Schmitt,42 recognize in its full tragic complexity in the lemma that Jesus is the Christ which seals the structure of the Leviathan and at the same time tears it from the inside: in any case, the indirect powers had once again defeated the concept of the absolute intangibility of the sovereign. Drawing heavily from the Schmitt of Political Theology and Dictatorship, Benjamin continues: «This extreme doctrine of princely power had its origins in the counter-reformation, and was more intelligent and more profound than its modern version. Whereas the modern concept of sovereignty amounts to a supreme executive power on the part of the prince, the baroque concept emerges from a discussion of the state of emergency, and makes it the most important function of the prince to advert this. The ruler designated from the outset as the holder of dictatorial power if war, revolt and other catastrophes should lead to a state of emergency […]. The theological-juridical mode of thought, which is so characteristic of this century, is an espressione of the retarding effect of the over-strained transcendental impulse, which underlies all the provocatively worldly accents of the baroque. For as an antithesis to the historical ideal of restoration it is haunted by the idea of catastrophe. And it is in response to this antithesis that the theory of the state of emergency is devised».43 In my opinion, Job prefigures the modern destiny of sovereignty, because its resistance, him steady listening to transcendence, expands the permanence of the openness, exposing the earth and the sky to non-calculable dangers: its sublime resilience that disregards the prescriptions and avoids any immanent compensation promised by the guardians of juridical transcendence, opens the doors to a strange eschatology, to the messianic risk of a "State beyond the State" (to use a Levinassian term, reshaped in the various forms of the in-coming in many occasions by Derrida44), a State capable of transforming the semantics of the lexicon of sovereignty by subverting itself and re-opening, perhaps, to another form of political community, an impossible inclusion that anticipates by suspending the law.

«The religious man of the Baroque clings so tightly to the world because of the feeling that he is being driven along to a cataract with it. The baroque knows no eschatology, and for that very reason it possesses no mechanism by which all earthly things are gathered in together and exalted before being consigned to their end. The hereafter is emptied of everything which contains the slightest breath of this world, and from it the baroque extracts a profusion of things which customarily escape the grassa of artisti formulation and, at its high point, brings them violently into the light of day, in order to clear an ultimate heaven, enabling it, as a vacuum, one day to destroy the world with catastrophic violence».45 The emptied afterlife, the crash of divine royalty and of the link between law and transcendence, becomes the prime background of the martyrological drama. The tragic suspension to which the sovereign is exposed derives from a withdrawing transcendence, which is re-veiled in the very moment in which the sovereign is lacerated by the wounds of history, as if there were an impossible correspondence between bruise, cut of the decision and gash on a transcendence which, however, offers itself not for appropriation but only to the gaze of one who, in pain, imitates this same withdrawal.

It is certainly not surprising that Schmitt, in the attempt to translate the entire theological-juridical-political thought of Hobbes into an icon, finally manages to chisel a crystal, whose upper side is latched onto the aforementioned lemma That Jesus is the Christ, but that, in reality, is completely open to transcendence and, indeed, we could even say that the lattice of the crystal holds together due to this very breakthrough. It is not possible here to delve into the complexity of the so-called "crystal system" devised by Schmitt, analyzing every lattice point and the axial relationships between them. In reality, the entire discourse developed in this essay rests on the idea that there is no theory of sovereignty without the discrete points that form the aforementioned crystal: oboedentia et protectio; potestas directa, not indirecta; auctoritas, non veritas, facit legem; quis interpretabitur?; Veritas: Jesus Christus; where the part linked to the first point is closed and configures the so-called system of needs (and therefore we can already see the double bond involving the sovereign person and the author in the pact of legal obligation: if the passions that configure the ius naturalis within the natural state could penetrate and infect the community body, the legal obligation sealed with the pact would immediately be void46), while the upper part, we were saying, is open to transcendence, to the tension towards a lex naturalis unattainable in the representative form with which we wrote the genetic code of the State. This structure becomes a fundamental iconographic model for the interpretation of any phenomenon or sovereignty myth, because it accounts for the infinite derailments provoked by sovereign figures, linking in a single glance all the elements that Girard would appoint to the sacral aspect of the monarchy (in reality, of all sovereignty): mimetic crisis, banned as a form of preparation for the community immunization, sovereign decision, a right welded to the law in the name of sovereign violence (the formula force-of-law47) and transcendence on the run which, by not covering the man in perennial purple, and thus igniting the drama of martyrdom, throws the world into a new crisis.

Back to the tyrant-martyr binomial, Balthasar Gracián, with his ambiguous prose rich in chiaroscuro as a Mannerist painting, wrote that the role of the prince was connected to framework and hyperbole: that is, kings are never judged by average; they are put either among the all good or among the all bad. «For the "very bad" there was the drama of the tyrant, and there was fear; for the "very good" there was the martyr-drama and pity […] In the Baroque the tyrant and the martyr are but the two faces of the monarch. They are the necessarily extreme incarnations of the princely essence. As far as the tyrant is concerned, this is clear enough. The theory of sovereignty which takes as its example the special case in which dictatorial powers are unfolded, positively demands the completion of the image of the sovereign, as tyrant».48 The royal symbols become a second skin, they are consubstantial with the executive act which becomes the resolving element of sovereignty. The sacredness, the out-of-Law that assumes the crown and scepter entirely upon himself, becomes the vault around which the arches of the double mediation stretch: the regard and admiration for the royal purple seems to almost grow with the abjection of the sovereign. “The Latin juvenilia of Gryphius, the Herodian epics, show clearly what fascinated these people: the seventeenth-century ruler, the summit of creation [we always remember the monstrous synthesis of Hobbes’ Leviathan], erupting into madness like a volcano and destroying himself and his entire court. […] The spirit of the drama of princes manifests itself clearly in that the features of the martyr-drama are interwoven in this typlical version of the end of the Jewish king […]: he falls victim to the disproportion between the unlimited hierachical dignity, with which he is divinely invested and the humble estate of his humanity».49

The reduction of the distance between royal dignity and creatural finitude brings the proliferation of scandals and ghosts, it not only crumbles the ability to fulfill the absolute character of sovereign power by sinking into the trauma of indecision,50 but also undermines the other great paradigm of the medieval theological-political system: the perpetual trait of the sovereign mystical body as a political institution, thoroughly investigated by the studies of Kantorowicz (a perpetual trait that immediately seemed an essential aspect also for Bodin, specifically in the paragraph in which the process of reconversion of the mystical into the technical was started). Once the sovereign effigy is stripped of any form of transcendence, what is left? The weak sovereign body, exposed, naked, in an atmosphere of absolute suspension; history becomes a painful exile, while the political community, furrowed by violent and threatening passions, is dominated by a hyper-mimetic civil anarchy and automatically stretched to extremes; the Truth becomes a tool to absolve or dissolve the other and not a trace that recedes to let the "political" be as a relationship (recognizing ourselves inhabited by a division that expropriates us of "one’s own" and binds us to the other even in the confrontation ). The martyrological dramas deal, therefore, with the body of the sovereign: "they are not so much concerned with the deeds of the hero as with suffering, and frequently not so much with spiritual torments as with the agony of the physical adversity which befalls him».51 From the transcendence debt to which the sovereign is condamned originates the long-lasting hystorical-political process that sees in the creation of the State mechanism the only possible instrument to grant full protection to the individual, and finds in Hobbes the highest paradigm. The sacred ambivalence that cloak the king’s body floods the whole mankind: the choice, which is fundamental to form the State, now performs the ritual cut onto the king’s body and the community’s as well. To become State the community must sacrifice itself, it must give up the cum that causes to be exposed to the relation with the other; in order to protect him, the State makes the individual sacred, separated, exposed but also “freed" from the contact with the other. Giorgio Agamben sees very clearly the epochal urgency for a change in the paradigm the opens to modern sovereignty: «It all happens as if the highest power – which […] is always founded on the isolation of an expendable, murderable one – implied, for a peculiar simmetry, its assumption on the very person who holds it. And if for the devotee who survived his own vow this sacred life is liberated by missing death, for the king it is death that reveals the exceedance that seems as such inherent to supreme power, like if this was ultimately nothing but the ability to build oneself and the others as expendable and murderable».52

It now seems almost useless to refer the martyrological drama to the Passion of Christ and the Cross: yet it is essential to demonstrate how much Hobbes’ lemma That Jesus is the Christ goes far beyond the argument of including the State into a christian theological-political tradition; it should rather be considered a trace both of a constitutive secret and of an impossible task that is also constant listening to an older and more prophetic voice: sovereignty and State, to be, must discard and renounce being power, they must retreat kenotically to let the differences be and at the same time make them pliant by holding back the conflict; sovereignty as the magisterium of an unsustainable responsibility that lives in the exception recognizing that anarchic is first of all the presence of the other who asks to come into a relationship and be hosted or fought. "The King suffered in the name of mankind, so, in the eyes of the writers of the baroque, does royalty in general."53 Sovereignty therefore says that true power lies in the kenosis, in the ability to suffer, in a waiver of annihilation according to sacrificial paradigms: true sovereignty is the overturn of sacrifice, opening to and not creation of the transcendence. It is certainly no coincidence that even in Schmitt’s thought, in what we could perhaps improperly define his eschatology of history, we find the figure of the martyr. If the earthly paradise of fully deployed technology aims to bring any glimmer of transcendence into immanence, perfectly coinciding with the pauline picture of the advent of the Antichrist (captivating event, the transcendence of the Other and the other would leave the world without any drama), there the Kathekon rises as figure of political theology in the age of immanence to defend and reaffirm transcendence. The martyr, on the other hand, penetrates Schmitt’s thought through Kierkegaard’s, becoming, so to speak, the face of every authentic kathekonic sovereignty. Thus the Dane: "In fact the tyrants (as emperors, kings, popes, Jesuits, generals, diplomats) have so far been able to rule and govern the world in the crucial moment, but since the fourth estate [the mass, the democratic people who in Tocqueville is so overwhelmed by sad passions] has come to the scene […] it will be clear that only the martyr is able to rule the world in the crucial moment […] since the fourth estate has appeared on the scene it will be clear that even when the crisis is over, it will no longer be possible to govern worldly".54 Faced with the absolutist claim of mimetic polarizations that shake society, the martyr stands, witnessing the divine’s otherness from any worldly order: it is the divinization of immanence that unleashes the worst historical violence. The martyr, as a witness to the faith in transcendence, shows and does not demonstrate, reveals in the backlight the worldliness of the world, restoring it to its own secularity. Its theological-political significance therefore lies in the separating contrast between eternity and time, sacrifice and oppression, thus at least expressing a direction to human exile in history.

Also in Richard II it is possible to catch numerous traces of the martyrological drama. We have seen that, by trying to forget the "political" as a constitutive relationship of the sovereign person, that is, banning Bolingbroke for the unsustainable mimetic charge he carries, Richard tries to raise the extreme defense of his idea of royalty, in a process where the two bodies of the king get progressively confused and which, at the same time, evokes the violence of the civil war. In an almost schizophrenic55 way, faced with the emergence of an enormous double that throws the untouchable royal corporation into the fray of historical violence, King Richard is on the one hand forced to honor and defend the royal dignity from the siege but on the other he yields before the epochal downgrading of the mystical body to a natural body and attempts escape strategies to avoid the inevitable pain. «This state of half-reality, of royal oblivion and slumber in which Richard would like to lock himself, adumbrates the royal “ Fool” of Flint Castle»56 as a form of ironic rejection of the harsh reality of martyrdom: everywhere signs of the splitting emerge and immediately new abrasions appear on the eternal body of the community, while the king hides away in dark, moaning and melancholic solitude. The Fool is also an image of the split but has a precise use in the fatal strategy of escape in the royal imagination: imagining Richard’s identity as a celebration or a Sabbath, the invitation for the Fool to appear would serve to dilute the discomfort generated from the extremely unwanted guest who has always inhabited the depth of the sovereign ego: Bolingbroke as a mimetic double. The Fool, therefore, would be that familiar face, or, as for Richard II, that part to play, that role to impersonate, which would help the king along his via crucis, digging a sort of moat full of irony, puns and tricks to pretend to be sovereign still while enemies pounce on the crown like ravenous wolves. The torment of sovereign kenosis must be hidden at all cost, for the sovereign identity revealed is traumatic; considering Lévinas’ philosophical gesture as political, it is the Me icon placed in the accusative. «It is as though it has dawned upon Richard that his vicariate of the God Christ might imply also a vicariate of the man Jesus, and that he, the royal "deputy elected by the Lord," might have to follow his divine Master also in his human humiliation and take the cross.»57

So, in the manifestation of the Cross as a secret form of sovereignty, in the impossibility of breaking through that simulacrum of transcendence which is the royal purple as an attempt to implant an earthly eternity, Richard is brutally forced to see the kenotic nature of the person and of the sovereign decision: the ironic escape first and the non-finding oneself in the Passion then, or rather the attempt to use the analogy that unites every humiliated king for the sacrificial inversion performed by Christ, are the reactions that, psychologically and politically, will finally expose him without appeal, marked by the final victim signs. Through melancholy, of course, the natural body of the king also comes forward, nailed to his mortal and earthly condition. "Not only does the king’s manhood prevail over the godhead of the Crown, and mortality over immortality; but, worse than that, kingship itself seems to have changed its essence. Instead of being unaffected “by Nonage or Old Age and other natural Defects and Imbecilities", kingship itself comes to mean Death, and nothing but Death. And the long procession of tortured kings passing in review before Richard’s eyes is proof of that change».58 The poetic images that Shakespeare begins to use turn more and more languid and terrifying; the lesions that afflict Richard’s imagination are much like those that ruin Job’s body. In the kings ghostly procession that passes through the mind of the English sovereign that now lacks any comfort, we recognize the chant of the "ancient way of the victim": «For God’s sake let us sit upon the ground, | and tell sad stories of the death of kings – | How some have been deposed, some slaain in war, | some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed, | some poisoned by their wives, some sleeping killed; | Keeps Death his court, and there the antic sits, | Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp, | allowing him a breath, a little scene, | to monarchize, be feared, and kill with looks, | infusing him with self and vain conceit, | as if the flesh which walls about our life, | Were brass impregnable: and humoured thus, | comes at the last, and with a little pin | bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!»59

Kantorowicz’s sacrificial intuition is crystal clear: «The king that "never dies" here has been replaced by the king that always dies and suffers death more cruelly than other mortals.».60

By the time Richard retires to Flint Castle, there is now only the fiction of royalty. Richard tries to defend the semblance of the dignitas that still cloaks him but finds an answer only in an immanence infested with enemies and traitors: the bridge with the vertical transcendence, with the ultimate seat of legitimacy, is completely gone; all that is left is the simulacrum of this lost transcendence, a horizontal and idolatrous transcendence that binds the desire for recognition to the most scandalous obstacle. We are therefore almost moved when "he snorts at Northumberland who has omitted the vassal’s and subject’s customary genuflection before his liege lord and the deputy of God":61 «We are amazed, and thus long have we stood | to watch the fearful bending of thy knee, | because we thought ourself thy lawful king: | And if we be, how dare thy joints forget | to pay their awful duty to our presence?».62 But even the Name of royalty is now completely caught by this psalm of decay: drama of abjection and comedy of abjection become a single text to be played with every possible virtuosity in order to try to levitate above the pain that becomes the absolute sovereign, and above the urgency of an extreme decision on the civil war randomly unleashing: «I’ll give my jewels for a set of beads: | my gourgeous palace for a hermitage: | my gay apparel for an almsman’s gown: | my figured goblets for a dish of wood: | my sceptre for a palmer’s walking-staff: | my subjects for a pair of carved saints, | and my large kingdom for a little grave, | a little grave, an obscure grave».63 The novel’s essence in Shakespeare’s writing would be detectable even only by the evolution of the figure of the Fool in his works: the action always proceeds from the double to unity, meaning a split unity proceeds towards a unity rebuilt from the exterior of the other. In Richard II, as we have seen, the Fool always represents the sovereign’s internal split, his being two-in-one, obviously reflecting not only the double body of royalty, but also the sugar-coated vision of the mimetic obstacle. Desperate to avoid being "won" by a renovated force-of-law that dominates the last remnants of the "mystical foundation of authority", King Richard "plays now the roles of both: fool of his royal self and food of kingship".64 If on the one hand this separation from the sacrificial grip that wants him to be identical to himself allows him to play all the way, facing Bolingbroke’s boldness (who kneels before him and who will follow a strategy that is as legal and territorial as possible to justify his violent seizure of power in front of a dismembered national body), "the comedy of his unstable and uncertain royalty" («Fair cousin, you debase your princely knee, | to make the base earth proud with kissing it… | Up, cousin, up – your heart is up, i know, | thus high (touching his own head) at least, although you knee be low»65); on the other hand, he also knows that the laughter that welcomes the actions of a Fool are nothing but the faint face of violence, there being the same persecutory polarization («I talk but idly, and you laugh at me»66). So, the temporary relief of the Fool pretence does not break the melancholy circle that has been created around sovereignty; moreover, in the sacramental atmosphere in which the ceremony of the shattering of the unitary and transcendent image of the sovereign by divine right is consummated, playing Fool as an attempt to escape from the image will end up deforming Richard even more into a catalyst trickster, facilitating the transition of the plot towards its martyrological heart and making the royalty crash to the ground more thunderous. It is in Westminster, however, that the ultimate step is taken to illuminate the fall of Richard’s sovereignty in a martyrological key. Bishop Carlisle tries one last time to evoke the celestial image of royalty but, in his words, we already find a backlit germ of a secularization that eradicates legitimacy from any exact location, and makes a utopia of it and an instrument of indirect powers: «What subject can give sentence on his king? | And who sits here that is not Richard’s subject?… | And shall the figure of God’s majesty, | his captain, steward, deputy-elect, | anointed, crowned, planted many years, | be judged by subject and inferior breath, | and he himself not present? O, forfend it, God, | That in a Christian climate souls refined | should show so heinous, black, obscene a deed!».67With this extreme attempt to restore the majesty of the vicarius Dei, an entire program of Christological analogies is prepared, and it leads to a finale as revealing and dizzying as it is confusing and contradictory. While it is prophesied that the violence of the civil war will transform the soil of England into Golgotha, Richard thus addresses the hostile assembly: «Did they not sometimes cry "all hail" to me? | So Judas did to Christ: But He, in twelve, | Found truth in all, but one: I in twelve thousand, none».68 Thus begins the spoliation of the royal body, a long and degrading rite of "deroyalization", a reverse ceremony in which the order of the coronation is manifestly inverted. The fact that the officiant of this phantasmagoric rite of passage is the sovereign himself proves that the moment holds a very dangerous contagious potential, in which violence, force and law blend; inhabiting the threshold between sacer and sanctus Richard desecrates himself, renouncing his political body and the perpetuity of the royal symbols, stripping himself before the out-Law, dignitaries of a legitimacy that has been able to overturn royalty from below. «Now mark me how I will undo myself: | I give this heavy weight from off my head, | and this unwieldly scepter from my hand, | The pride of kingly sway from out my heart; | With mine own tears I wash away my balm, | With mine own breath release all duteous oaths: | all pomp and majesty do i foreswear […]».69 However, Richard embraces the Cross not as a symbol of sovereign kenosis, a devout and courageous passivity that does not recede in front of the evil, but rather to discover an "otherwise" of the "political", a repositioning starting from that other who is violent for he is dominated and invisible. The Cross becomes for Richard sort of a last trick, a way to retreat into himself and find a difference that gives him majesty in the separation from the presence of others. The Cross, therefore, is for Richard the opposite of endless responsibility; it rather resembles a lascivious and suffering abandonment, in the remote hope that violence will not offend that very timid glimmer of sovereignty, jealously guarded "in foro interno" but now once and for all imaginary. The illusory screen, of course, will break in the confrontation with the mimetic rival: "For of a sudden Richard realizes that he, when facing his Lancastrian Pilate, is not at all like Christ, but that he himself, Richard, has his place among the Pilates and Judases, because he is no less a traitor than the others, or is even worse than they are: he is a traitor to his own immortal body politic and to kingship such as it had been to his day".70 The Cross is always, somehow, revelation, insofar as the walls of the sovereign ego are demolished by an apocalypse that is the face of the other, which, always unpromted, challenges the individual to reply; and even if Richard’s reaction is not that of the first-born Karamazov, at least, by breaking the sovereign imago as a narcissistic protection, he will still be able to find greater freedom in pain and imprisonment. «Mine eyes are full of tears, i cannot see […] | but they can see a sort of traitors here. | Nay, if i turn mine eyes upon myself, | I find myself a traitor with the rest: | for i have given here my soul’s consent | t’undeck the pompous body of a king […]»71

At the end of the ordeal, the revelation is sharp, painful and final. The scene of the mirror, apical and extreme moment of the martyrological drama, summarizes with a single powerful image the collapse of the sovereign person and the collapse of transcendence. The bare face that appears in the mirror speaks with a different sincerity: the royal purple, the celestial semblance, was nothing more than the enchanted fruit of mimetic desire, the haunted product of that polarization which, in mutual support for one another in times of peace, makes sovereign subjectivity autarchic. But the trick works only to the extent that there is immediate synchrony in the recognition mechanism; the wind of the civil war carries the doubt of a false legitimacy, always caught up in the same circle of recognition and mimetic scandal, a circle at first ghostly but made of arches that underlie the harsh presence of another realness, not erasable and not ascribable to a norm. The harsh reality of the "political" must be assumed with all the realism of which the king is capable. Bolingbroke, just like Satan in the prologue of the Book of Job, is the immovable obstacle that forces sovereignty to strip first and then look at itself; the civil war tells of the impossibility for the sovereignty to retreat into itself, forcing it to look at the body of the nation in a totally different way. The violence of the civil war, the most senseless and excessive political evil, therefore guards an unexpected masterful effect: the ability to rescind sovereignty from its most intimate and secret responsibility, to show the meaning of the Cross in front of the mystery of Iniquity. Either escape or responsibility: tertium non datur.

For poor melancholic Richard, however, the result of this revelation is like an ocean overflowing its own banks: in the overwhelming poverty of his face «Richard "melts himself away,’’ and together with his self also the image of kingship […] The physical face which the mirror reflects, no longer is one with Richard’s inner experience, his outer appearance, no longer identical with inner man […] “was this the face | that every day under his household roof | did keep ten thousand men? | Was this the face | that, like the sun, did make beholders wink? | Was this the face, that faced so many follies, | and was at last outfaced by Bolingbroke?"»72 – «When finally, at the "brittle glory" of his face, Richard dashes the mirror to the ground, there shatters not only Richard’s past and present, but every aspect of a super-world […]. The features as reflected by the looking-glass betray that he is stripped of every possibility of a second or super-body— of the pompous body politic of king, of the God-likeness of the Lord’sdeputy elect, of the follies of the fool, and even of the most human griefs residing in inner man».73 The suicidal drive that destroys the "mirror stage" of medieval (now pre-modern) sovereignty is a profound testament to a conceptual genealogy of sovereignty as a metapolitical and meta-historical question: the legitimacy of transcendence is no longer guaranteed nor can be owned in any way, sovereignty is not given by divine right but assumed through an epochal decision able to embrace the presence of the other even in the exceptional burst of violence and able to fix, at least temporarily, the "political" as the central relationship of the institution hence avoiding any millenarian temptation as an eschatological seal. Of the celestial corporation, remains only the abandoned carcass of the natural body on which the vultures glide: «BOLINGBROKE Go, some of you, convey him to the Tower. | RICHARD O, good! Convey? Conveyors are you all, | that rise thus nimbly ny a true king’s fall».74

The fragility of juridical-political transcendence has always been tied to threats and conspiracies, fragments of the hidden link that holds violence and the Law at once: offer your body to these obscene marks, read them to remain faithful to an "other" transcendence , whose secret lies beyond the mirror, is exactly that threshold that separates Richard from Job. The latter’s patience while he faces the technical-sacrificial apparatus, in fact, aside from failures and temptations, his unbreakable desire to appear at the trial with and before God, still prove75 an alternative form of criticism of the power of the Law and make sovereignty a real allegory of the messianic expectation.

  1. In Schmitt’s vast bibliography we must consider at least Political theology. Four chapters on the concept of sovereignty (1922), translated by G. Schwab, The MIT Press, Cambridge, and London, 1985, The concept of the political (1932), translated by G. Schwab, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2007, and On the Three Types of Juristic Thought (1934), translated by J. W. Benders, Praeger, Westport, 2004. Also significant is Carl Schmitt, Die Diktatur (1921), Duncker & Humblot GmbH, Berlin 2015. ↩︎

  2. Of great importance are Legality and Legitimacy (1932), translated by J. Seitzer and J. P. McCormick, Duke University Press, Durham 2004 and Das Problem der Legalität in Die neue Ordnung. Zeitschrift für Religion, Kultur, Gesellschaft, IV, n. 3, Walberberg 1950, pp. 270-2752; Carl Schmitt, Constitutional Theory (1928), translated by J. Seitzer, Due University Press, Durham, 2008; Der Hüter der Verfassung (1931), partially translated in The Guardian of the Constitution. Hans Kelsen and Carl Schmitt on the Limits of Constitutional Law, edited by L. Vinx, Cambridge University Press, 2015. ↩︎

  3. It is essential to see Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of Jus Publicum Europaeum (1950), translated by G. L. Ulmen, Telos Press Publishing, New York 2003; many interesting notes can also be found in the many essays included in Carl Schmitt, L’unità del mondo e altri saggi, Antonio Pellicani editore, 1994; see also Carl Schmitt, Großraum: Arbeiten Aus Den Jahren 1916-1969, edited by G. Maschke, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1995. ↩︎

  4. An important reference for this essay are Der Staat als Mechanismus bei Hobbes und Descartes, in Dem Gedächtnis an René Descartes, edited by C. A. Emge, Verlag fur Staatswissenschaften und Geschichte, Berlin 1937; The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes (1938), translated by G. Schwab and E. Hilfstein, Praeger, Westport 1996; Dreihundert Jahre Leviathan (1951), in Staat, Großraum, Nomos, op.cit., all underlining how fundamental the work of such philosopher is for the development of the german jurist path: see Carl Schmitt, Scritti su Thomas Hobbes, Giuffrè editore, 1986. Also important to see: Roman Catholicism and Political Form (1923), translated by G. L. Ulmen, Praeger, Westport 1996; Carl Schmitt, Political Theology II: The Myth of the Closure of any Political Theology (1970), translated by M. Hoelzl, G. Ward, Polity, Cambridge 2008; Carl Schmitt, The age of neutralisations and depoliticisations (1932), in The Concept of The Political, Op. cit., pp 80-97. ↩︎

  5. René Girard, Job The Victim of His People (1985), Eng. trans. Yvonne Freccero, Stanford University Press, 1987. ↩︎

  6. Out of the vast number of authors and works about Schmitt’s thought, for this essay I chose to utilize in particularly the monumental monography by Carlo Galli, Genealogia della politica – Carl Schmitt e la crisi del pensiero politico moderno, Il Mulino, 2010; I also want to mention other woks which have been a great support for my studies on Carl Schmitt: Michele Nicoletti, Trascendenza e potere. La teologia politica di Carl Schmitt, Morcelliana, 1990; Claudio Bonvecchio, Decisionismo. La dottrina politica di Carl Schmitt, Unicopli, 1985; Emanuele Castrucci, La forma e la decisione. Studi critici, Giuffrè editore, 1985. ↩︎

  7. See Carl Schmitt, Political Theology, Op. cit., p. 13. ↩︎

  8. See Carlo Galli, Genealogia della politica, p. 339. ↩︎

  9. For this essay we will refer to J.D. Wilson, Works of Shakespeare, Cambridge, 1939 and the italian translation by C. Vico Lodovici in W. Shakespeare, Teatro, II, Einaudi, 1ª ed. 1964. ↩︎

  10. See Philippe Nemo, Job and the Excess of Evil (1978), translated by M. Kigel, Duquesne University Press, Pittsburgh 1998. ↩︎

  11. Crucial matter, authentic "political purpose" of the deconstruction operated by Derrida in many of his works, such as the following fundamental ones: Jacques Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, translated by G. Bennington, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2010; Jacques Derrida, Rogues. Two Essays on Reason (2003), translated by P.-A. Brault, M. Naas, Stanford University Press, Stanford 2005; Jacques Derrida, The Politics of friendship (1994), translated by G. Collins, Verso, London 2005. ↩︎

  12. «The procedures that keep men’s vilence in bounds have one thing in common: they are no strangers to the way of violence. There is reason to believe that they are all rooted in religion. […] Religion in its broadest sense, then, must be another term for that obscurity that surrounds man’s efforts to defend himself by curative or preventative means against his own violence. It is that enigmatic quality that pervades the judicial system when that system replaces sacrifice. This obscurity coincides with the transcendental effectiveness of a violence that is holy, legal, and legitimate successfully opposed to a violence that is unjust, illegal, and illegitimate. In the same way that sacrificial victims must in principle meet the approval of the divinity before being offered as a sacrifice, the judicial system appeals to a theology as a guarantee of justice. Even when this theology disappears, as has happened in our culture, the transcendental quality of the system remains intact.» See Renè Girard, Violence and the Sacred (1972), Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013;one of the purposes of the present essay is to show the fragility of such transcendence, especially in the thinning of the line that separates earth from sky and in the process of secularization that sees the legitimate and the legal coming closer in a deadly embrace, giving space to claims that throughout History grow increasingly violent and mercyless (like Girard him self, in the final stage of his work, at the peak of his apocalipctic pessimism, seems to indicate: see René Girard, Battling to the End: Conversations with Benoit Chantre (2009) translated by M. Baker, Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, 2010). ↩︎

  13. If the thought of Girard and Schmitt is the very center of "political realism" that brings back to relation any attemp to move towards ontology or universalization, it is the work of Lévinas that leads the way and sets, by overturning the established cathegories of ontology, a new beginning for metaphyisics, opening – and this is implicit in this essay – a breach towards an otherwise of the "political", a way to bring light to its hidden side. Within the many works that left in me a mark-wound never to heal, again because of the political potential of ethics and relations and also for giving me the language that allowed me to think of all this, I want to mention Emmanuel Lévinas, Otherwise than Being, or Beyond Essence (1974), translated by A. Lingis, Duquesne University Press, Pittsburgh 1998; Emmanuel Lévinas, Totality and Infinity, Eng. trans. by A. Lingis, Duquesne University Press, 1969; Emmanuel Lévinas, In the Time of Nations (1988), translated by M. B. Smith, The Athlone Press, Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1994; Emmanuel Lévinas, Beyond the verse. Talmudic readings and Lectures (1982), translated by G. D. Mole, The Athlone Press, London 1994; Emmanuel Lévinas, Du Sacré au saint. Cinq nouvelles lectures talmudiques, Les Éditions De Minuit, 1997. ↩︎

  14. On this matter, the work of Giorgio Agamben is fundamental, regarding both the homo sacer model and the infinite applications that this model offers: from biopolitics of genealogy to the consonance of the concept of threshold, especially if related to Schmitt’s exception and Girard’s 'undifferentiation'. See Giorgio Agamben, Homo sacer. Il potere sovrano e la nuda vita, Einaudi, 2005; Giorgio Agamben, Stato di eccezione (Homo sacer II, 1), Bollati Boringhieri, 2017. ↩︎

  15. See Jean-Luc Marion, The idol and the distance. Five studies (1977), translated by T. A. Carlson, Fordham University Press, New York, 2001; the reference to Marion works well with the exegetical structure suggested by Nemo and also with the early Girard’s thought that showed a deep difference between vertical transcendence and deviated transcendence (corresponding, according to Girard, to two forms of desire: the desire through one’s self and the desire through the other; see René Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure (1961), Yvonne Freccero, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965; see also René Girard, Resurrection from the Underground: Feodor Dostoevsky, translated by J. Williams, Michigan State University Press, East Lansing 2012. My idea is that these strange structures of transcence guard, in a gothic manner, an impulse that is very different from Girard’s perspective’s or that at least the latter should be deconstructed going back to objectivity, relation’s trauma, the state of the wait as a norm for cure and listening, micropolitics of the gift as an act to be true to one’s self and to the Other. ↩︎

  16. See Ernst Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (1957), Princeton University, Princeton, 2016. ↩︎

  17. Ibid., p. 24. ↩︎

  18. Cfr. Carl Schmitt, The Age of Neutralizations and Depoliticizations, in The concept of the Political, op. cit. Schmitt, in beautiful fresco of the process of secularization, shows an essential co-implication between the State’s form and the manifestation of the subject ↩︎

  19. See Ernst Kantorowicz, Op. cit., p. 27. ↩︎

  20. William Shakespeare, Richard II, V. v. 31. ↩︎

  21. «The ostensible contradiction with the prescriptions of De Cive is easily resolved if one distinguishes, as Hobbes does, between the "disunited multitude" that forerun the pact and the "dissolute multitude" that follows it. The esatblishment of the populus-rex paradox is a process that goes from a multitude and back to a multitude: but the dissolute multitudo, in which the people has dissolved, cannot coincide with the disunited multitude and claim to be able to appoint a new sovereign. The cycle "disunited multitude-people/king-dissolved multitude" is broken and the attempt to return to the initial state coincides with the civil war», Giorgio Agamben, Stasis. La guerra civile come paradigma politico (Homo sacer II, 2), Quodlibet, 2018, p. 282. In general, the entire chapter dedicated to the reading of the frontispiece of the Leviathan, debates themes that the present essay also focuses onto: in particular the genealogical link, with the agreement, of the biopolitical origin of the power of the State to the sacrificial expulsion of the moltitude of singularities "out of law" and "out of community" in the compact mass of the population, an operation that builds the community’s superbody and pays the price of that link within division in the civil war and a total renunciation of one’s own singularity, uniqueness that can be source of the scandal. «The concept of "people" contains an internal split which, dividing people and multitude, demos and plethos, population and people, rich people and small people, prevents it from existing as a whole. Thus, from the constitutional law’s point of view, if, on the one hand, the people must already be defined within itself by a conscious homogeneity […] and, therefore, always already present to itself, on the other hand, as a political unity, it cannot exist except through the men who represent it. Even if we were to say that, as it has been the case at least since the French Revolution, the people hold the legal power, they, as the holder of this power, must necessarily stand outside any juridical-constitutional norms. […] And so the people are the absolutely present that, as such, can never be present and can therefore only be represented» See Ibid., pp. 269-295. ↩︎

  22. See in particular the essay The State as Mechanism in Hobbes, in Carl Schmitt, The Leviathan in the State Theory oh Thomas Hobbes. Schmitt’s analytical acumen simultaneously captures both the destiny of machines functionalization that involves the sovereign decision as representation, and its arising in the form of a mythical spark starting from the superimposition of the two traditionally separated pacts – pactum unionis and pactum subiectionis – (an operation that closely recalls the process of divinization of the victim described several times by Girard in many of his works): «The terror of the state of nature drives anguished individuals to come together; their fear rises to an extreme; a spark of reason (ratio) flashes, and suddenly there stands in front of them a new god. Who is this God who brings peace and security to people tormented by anguish, who transforms wolves into citizens and through this miracle prove himself to be a god, obviously a "mortal god", a deus mortalis?» Carl Schmitt, Op. cit., pp. 31-32. ↩︎

  23. Ernst Kantorowicz, Op. cit., p. 27. ↩︎

  24. William Shakespeare, Richard II (III. ii. 54). ↩︎

  25. See Emmanuel Lévinas, Chapter IV, Substitution, in Otherwise than Being, op. cit., pp. 99-121. ↩︎

  26. About the sacrificial root of the community paradigm, the issue of co-implication between community connection and immunity protection, the overturning of all concepts of identity as authentic ground of a community towards the hospitable gift as a reversal of sacrifice, cosmic friendship between solitudes, communion of what deprives me of myself ect., Roberto Esposito has given important contribution. In particular I want to mention: Roberto Esposito, Communitas – Origine e destino della comunità, Einaudi, 2006; Roberto Esposito, Immunitas – Protezione e negazione della vita, Einaudi, 2020; Roberto Esposito, Due – La macchina della teologia politica e il posto del pensiero, Einaudi, 2013; Roberto Esposito, Categorie dell’impolitico, Il Mulino, 1999. ↩︎

  27. About insomnia see Emmanuel Lévinas, Existence and Existents (1978), translated by A. Lingis, Duquesne University Press, Pittsburgh 2001; on an-archy, not as sterile subversion of order but rather as a reversal that adheres to the diachronic trace of another’s face always anticipating the original act, the sovereign arké, see also Emmanuel Lévinas, Otherwise than Being and Jacques Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, where Derrida’s thought also involves the argument of the event as "à-venir" of the difference in Heidegger; about the violence "other" then the mythical violence see Theologico-Political Fragment and Critique of violence in Walter Benjamin, Reflection. Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical, Writings, translated by E. Jephcott, Schocken Books, New York, 1986.; about the link in division see Nicole Loraux, The divided city. On memory and Forgetting in Ancient Athens (1997), translated by C. Pache, J. Fort, Zone Books 2002. ↩︎

  28. See The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function and Aggressivity in Psychoanalysis, included in Jacques Lacan, Écrits. The First Complete Edition in English, translated by B. Fink, W. W. Norton & Company, London 2006. aside from Girard’s examination on the difficult role of the mediator in his attempt to maintain his prestige but also his desire, see René Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure, Op. cit. ↩︎

  29. William Shakespeare, Richard II (III. ii. 60); see René Girard, Job The Victim of His People, Op. cit., pp. 35-44. ↩︎

  30. About the importance of the ban as extreme relation in the heart of sovereignty, of the nomos, of the problemtaic intertwining between power and law, see Giorgio Agamben, Homo sacer – Il potere sovrano e la nuda vita, in particular, and it is interesting because of the highlighted continuity between the Middle Age and the origin of modern time around the weft ban-wolf-state of nature-sovereign, see pp. 116-123. On the perturbing effect of the revenant see Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx, translated by P. Kamuf, Routledge Classics, London 2006. ↩︎

  31. In Schmitt’s interpretation of Hobbes’ thought we find at least two levels: in the first, the moment of the decision is the center ex-lege of the legislation (even if it is already visible the attention on the one side on the positivistic risk- highest coincidence of potestas and auctoritas and the mythical element of the "monster person" of the leviathan representation, see Carl Schmitt, Die Diktatur; Carl Schmitt, Political theology, chapter 1 and 3); in the second the focus is on the opening to transcendence, the fight against indirect powers and the importance of religion, not merely for tactical purposes, in Hobbes system, see Die vollendete Reformation. Bermerkungen und Hinweise zu neuen Leviathan-Interpretationen (1965) and also S. 59/66., "Hobbes-Kristal", in Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen. Text von 1932 mit einem Vorwort und drei Corollarien, Dunker & Humblot, Berlin, 1979, pp. 74-8. Interesting fact: the recognition of masterful devotion that Schmitt has gradually developed towards the thought of the English philosopher tends to coincide with the self-perception of being the juridical-political scapegoat of their own time: for this reason the Leviathan has become the political symbol of what the text intended to avoid (absolutism is in fact the opposite of totalitarianism) see Dreihundert Jahre Leviathan in Carl Schmitt, Staat, Großraum, Nomos, op. cit., pp. 152-156, and Carl Schmitt, Ex Captivitate Salus: Experiences, 1945-47, traslated by M. Hannah, Polity, Cambridge, 2017. ↩︎

  32. See Ernst Kantorowicz, Op. cit., p. 29. ↩︎

  33. See Lévinas on the concept of Other within the Same; see Carl Schmitt, Political Theology II; see also Jacques Derrida, The Politics of friendship, in particular chapter V, On Absolute Hostility: The Cause of Philosophy and the Spectre of the Political, pp. 112-138. ↩︎

  34. Girard has also a bright intuition playing around the difference between internal enemy/external enemy following a system that connects, implicitly, Schmitt’s "political" and sacrificial substantialization in the onclusion of Eschilo’s Eumenidi; see René Girard, Job The Victim of His People, op. cit, in particular chapter XX, "A bloody Ransom to Still the City’s Frenzy", pp. 146-153. ↩︎

  35. William Shakespeare, Richard II (III. ii. 83). ↩︎

  36. Surprisingly common aspects can be found in the political-intellectual milieu painted, with a genealogical approach and attention to the marginal element, in Roman Schnur, Individualismus und Absolutismus: zur politischen Theorie vor Thomas Hobbes (1600-1640), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 1963. ↩︎

  37. Job, 3, 26. ↩︎

  38. Job, 4, 2. ↩︎

  39. Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama (1928), translated by J. Osborne, Verso, London 2003. ↩︎

  40. Walter Benjamin, Ibid., p. 65. ↩︎

  41. Walter Benjamin, Ivi. ↩︎

  42. See essay by Alessandro Biral Schmitt interprete di Hobbes, included in AA.VV, La politica oltre lo Stato: Carl Schmitt, Arsenale cooperativa editrice, 1981; in particular pp. 103-125. ↩︎

  43. Walter Benjamin, Op. cit., pp. 65-66. ↩︎

  44. See Lévinas, Op. cit., see also Jacques Derrida, Adieu to Emmanuel Lévinas, translated by P.-A. Brault, M. Naas, Stanford University Press, Redwood City 1999. ↩︎

  45. Walter Benjamin, Op. cit., p. 66. ↩︎

  46. It is to be noted the perfect resonance between Roberto Esposito’s pages Immunitas about juridical immunization and the mechanism of dispensatio-compensatio in Hobbes and the first chapter that opens with the significant title La paura (The Fear) see Roberto Esposito, Communitas on Hobbes and the pact’s sacrificial nature. ↩︎

  47. Interesting suggestions on such matter in Jacques Derrida, Force of law: The "Mystical Foundation of Authority", in AA. VV., Deconstruction and the possibility of justice, edited by Drucilla Cornell, Michel Rosenfeld, and David Carlson, Routledge, London 1992. ↩︎

  48. Walter Benjamin, Op. cit., p. 69. ↩︎

  49. Walter Benjamin, Op. cit., p. 70. ↩︎

  50. «The antithesis between the power of the ruler and his capacity to rule led to a feature peculiar to the Trauerspiel which is, however, only apparently a generic feature […] This is the indecisiveness of the tyrant. The prince, who is responsible for making the decision to proclaim the state of emergency, reveals, at first opportunity, that he is almost incapable of making a decision» See Walter Benjamin, Op. cit., p. 71; On indecisiviness, in the weaving of silent references that Schmitt e Benjamin exchanged throughout their lifetime works, we must mention the examination of the Hamlet that the German jurist carries out of Benjamin’s work, as the latter had utilized Schmitt’s early thought as a conceptual foundation in his work: see Carl Schmitt, Hamlet Or Hecuba: The Intrusion of the Time Into the Play, translated by D. Pan, J. R. Rust, Telos Press, New York, 2009. ↩︎

  51. Walter Benjamin, Op. cit., p. 72. ↩︎

  52. Giorgio Agamben, Homo sacer. Il potere sovrano e la nuda vita, p. 113. ↩︎

  53. Walter Benjamin, Op. cit., p. 73. ↩︎

  54. Soren Kierkegaard, On Authority and Revelation, the Book on Adler, translated by Walter Lowrie, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1955. ↩︎

  55. «Richard: Thou chidest me well: proud Bolingbroke, I come To change blows with thee for our day of doom. This ague fit of fear is over-blown; An easy task it is to win our own. Say, Scroop, where lies our uncle with his power? Speak sweetly, man, although thy looks be sour. Scroop: […] Your uncle York is join’d with Bolingbroke, And all your northern castles yielded up, And all your southern gentlemen in arms Upon his party.Richard: Thou hast said enough. Beshrew thee, cousin, which didst lead me forth [To DUKE OF AUMERLE] Of that sweet way I was in to despair! What say you now? what comfort have we now? By heaven, I’ll hate him everlastingly That bids me be of comfort any more.» (Act III scene 2). ↩︎

  56. Ernst Kantorowicz, Op.cit., p. 29. ↩︎

  57. Ernst Kantorowicz, Op. cit., p. 30. ↩︎

  58. Ernst Kantorowicz, Op. cit., p. 30. ↩︎

  59. William Shakespeare, Richard II (III. ii. 155) ↩︎

  60. Ernst Kantorowicz, Op. cit., p. 30. ↩︎

  61. Ernst Kantorowicz, Op. cit., p. 31. ↩︎

  62. William Shakespeare, Richard II (III. ⅲ*. 73).* ↩︎

  63. William Shakespeare, Richard II (III. ⅲ*. 147).* ↩︎

  64. Ernst Kantorowicz, Op. cit., p. 33.. ↩︎

  65. William Shakespeare, Richard II (III. ⅲ*. 190).* ↩︎

  66. William Shakespeare, Richard II (III. ⅲ*. 171).* ↩︎

  67. William Shakespeare, Richard II (IV. i. 121). ↩︎

  68. William Shakespeare, Richard II (IV. i. 169). ↩︎

  69. William Shakespeare, Richard II (IV. i. 203). ↩︎

  70. Ernst Kantorowicz, Op. cit., p. 8. ↩︎

  71. William Shakespeare, Richard II (IV. i. 244). ↩︎

  72. William Shakespeare, Richard II (IV. i. 281). ↩︎

  73. Ernst Kantorowicz, Op. cit., p. 40. ↩︎

  74. William Shakespeare, Richard II (IV. i. 316). ↩︎

  75. To diminish Job’s words as pure vengeance, even if highlighting the progressive potential within the victim mechanism values, would be to implicitly recognise the constructive power of the Law and dispel the subversive potential in Job’s pain, giving more credits to a system that already has to many. The anguished word of Job, the question about the meaning of being and the senselessness of an excessive evil, on the contrary, is anarchic, it tangles the Law that governs the world, still forced to use the language of the world: this word thus enters the discourse much like a fake coin (according to Derrida); through the difference between saying and said, the world is thrown back into an indifferent mechanism while authentic communication is redirected, it becomes a call between I and You, Job and God: Job’s wish is in fact to attain Justice in an trial "other" than the Law’s technical procedure. The argument, in these reflections caused by the birifringence of the text, is clearly more complicated than the mimetic mutuality from each front. Like Balthazar the donkey, in Robert Bresson’s film, reavealed in his lesions the senseless gratuitousness of human and historical evil, always excessive, the same way the docile Job proves with his senseless pain the madness in a Law which allows all this to happen, offering to God the possibility for intervention, claiming the responsibility of his Intention. The honest word shows God the pain of a perishable body and the fiber of human relations, without ever demonstrating, thus renouncing the tragic lament pride and avoiding the claim that would only serve to re-gain the position lost. The mourning voice wants to actually show God’s injustice, to extrapolate God’s judgment injustice towards man: by performing the claim, the temptation appears of death, usefull towards the purpose. Exposure, vulnerability, passiveness, carry instead a truth that does not need demonstrations to shine: it speaks in silence, it tells with no words, it teaches without taming. In the full and dark eye of mistreated Balthazar, reflection of human poverty, suffering, violence and indifference, we see the silent presence of the Other that always agitates the essential conatus and the nostalgia of the pleasure of continuous return to unity. It is the same for Job: in his defense there is an ancient silent that mirrors God’s restraint’s silence as space for the other trancendence; only on this level, completely asymmetrical, Justice can offer itself in all its grace. ↩︎