n Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif - "A law of impurity or a principle of contamination" : poetry's resistance

Volume 23, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1016-4359
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2193



This article represents a first (and tentative) excavation of the origin of what Plato's refers to as the "ancient quarrel" between philosophy and poetry. It is argued that this quarrel must be understood in the context of the role of the law and of the sovereign philosopher king in the . The author contends that what the effectively achieves is a problematic opposition between aesthetics and positive law. This opposition is further considered within the context of the Greek (the original name in the West of art in general). It is pointed out that, at least for the Greeks, included the activity of lawmaking - law, like poetry, thus represented a "presencing" as opposed to what Heidegger would call centuries later in the context of the domination of humanity by technology, a challenging-forth. The understanding of lawmaking as an art of revealing, of course ties in with the natural law approach, classically referenced in Sophocles' . The article proceeds to trace the thought of Giorgio Agamben on the rise of the will to power which coincides in modernity with the dominant emergence of technology (enabled by a techno-scientific conception of law) and an instrumentalisation of the arts. In a concluding section, with reference to the resistance poetry of the Afrikaans tradition, it is argued that the opposition between law and poetry deconstructs - poetry is the counter-law () within the law () itself, the madness which Derrida would have referred to as "perhaps not so mad".

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