Love Wins
What's remarkable about the decision of SCOTUS, and its well-publicized dissensions, is how it alludes to the fault-lines now showing up in language 'itself'. A deeper paradigm shift is underway.
By Adebayo Akomolafe / filmsforaction.org

I have just read a report about Justice Scalia's critique of Justice Kennedy's opening lines - the poetic words of consent that will long be remembered as the critical turning point towards equality in same-sex marriage legislation across the United States. Kennedy, in his usual flowery way, wrote that "Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there". Scalia, unrelentingly scathing in his remarks, 'wrote in a footnote that he would “hide his head in a bag” if he ever signed onto an opinion containing [Kennedy's] sentence, which he said contained “the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.”' The other four Justices, voicing their dissent for the majority of 5 and especially for the deciding opinion, reiterated their preference for a constitutional, level-headed, mechanical interpretation of the law - and vehemently opposed the 'shiny rhetorical gloss', egotistic profundities, and 'silly extravagances' of Kennedy's write-up.

I think what's remarkable about the 'war' of the Justices is how it alludes to the fault-lines now showing up in language 'itself'. Once it would have been incontestable to see the world as a bicameral distinction between 'things that are factual and practical' and 'things that are mystical and poetic'. The legal system depends on the integrity of those divides. Yet, in perhaps American history's most poignant exemplification of 'poetic justice', a significant victory was won - by words and sentiments that appear fluffy and 'unprofessional'. Perhaps this is a clear indication of the ways those divides are coming undone, and how boundaries are becoming more and more porous. The nature of the 'factual' is changing, and the grounds upon which our most formidable institutions are built are revealing their inherent instabilities. The dissenting Justices looked at the Constitution and saw a document that is resolute, fixed, and unambiguous about its dictates. Kennedy looked and saw himself, the unwieldiness of his experiences, and the pretentiousness of representationalism. He saw cracks and fissures, double entendres, air-quotes, tongue-in-cheek-sentences, parentheses, and hybrid-truths. He saw a document with ellipses, 'the meaning of which we are still learning' - instead of an injunction from outside, an Archimedean creed or declaration. A full-stop.

What's interesting to me is not that same-sex marriage rights won the day; it's that the 'deciding factor' wasn't a fact in the way we have come to understand 'facts'; it was a reconceptualization of facts, a reconfiguration of the literal. It was how Kennedy went in there, got his hands dirty by upturning bedrocks and quiet fields and chief cornerstones - and then found nothing is fixed. Not meaning. Not old regimes. Not sacred texts. Not worldviews. Not the past. Not old habits. Everything is complicated, entangled and indeterminate. And when his first words appeared on paper, they showed that they were the true children of a more vibrant parliament of things. His final line, 'It is so ordered', was a Trojan horse accommodating the outrageousness of a world that resists order, that constantly deconstructs itself.

Perhaps the poetic is the most appropriate way to respond to the sensuous, material-discursive unfurling of 'consensus' reality. As David Whyte asserts, the poetic is language against which there are no defenses. What's now important, what's now true, what's now worth paying attention to, is changing. Who knows, the fortune cookies Scalia so rudely disparages might be history texts for generations yet unborn.

 

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 18,622 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
Stunning Summary of US Imperialism and Native Resistance... on MSNBC!
4 min · 8,587 views today · On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history American always tries to forget.
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn · 7,825 views today · (Excerpted from the book, The Story of B) With every audience and every individual, I have to begin by making them see that the cultural self-awareness we inherit from our...
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 5,872 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 5,335 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Standing Rock Wisdom: How Sacred, Nonviolent Activism Has the Power to Succeed
Charles Eisenstein · 4,597 views today · I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the...
10 Stunning Images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award
Natural History Museum · 4,440 views today · These incredible images are a selection from of the 25 shortlisted by The Natural History Museum for the People's Choice Award from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the...
Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month
Nadia Prupis · 3,944 views today · President-elect Donald Trump's focus on single Boeing contract ignores enormous waste of bloated Pentagon budget
DREAM: A Spoken Word Meditation For When Life Is Kicking Your Ass
4 min · 3,580 views today · If life is kicking your ass and the general un-coolness of everybody on planet erf is making you want to off yourself, TALK to someone: 800-273-8255 (national suicide...
The Other Way of Knowing
Lilian Na’ia Alessa · 3,274 views today · Western science and Indigenous worldviews are often seen as incompatible, with the Indigenous view usually being far less valued by society at large. But an inside look at...
Veterans at Standing Rock Ask Forgiveness for War Crimes Against Tribal Nations
Jen Hayden · 3,056 views today · Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The...
Why People Cling to Old Beliefs
1 min · 2,766 views today · Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist at McGill University, Daniel Levitin, explains why people can be so stubborn when it comes to false beliefs. This behavior is...
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
Mickey Z. · 2,571 views today · “The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist
Araz Hachadourian · 2,452 views today · The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston this month.
Solar is Already Producing More Energy Than Oil, Says Major Scientific Review
Nafeez Ahmed · 2,214 views today · And is twice as powerful than previously thought
13 Crises That We All Must Face
George Monbiot · 1,716 views today · We face (at least) 13 major crises, some of which are immediate. It’s time for some hard thinking about how we confront them.
Sean Carroll - The Meaning of Life
7 min · 1,669 views today · The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules; it's up to us to make sense of it and give it value. Sean Carroll Music: Moby - God Moving Over the Face of the Waters
Amanda Abbington Introduces iAnimal - 42 Days in the Life of Chickens
4 min · 1,611 views today · Shot undercover in British factory farms and slaughterhouses, this immersive 360° video gives you a birds-eye view of what happens to chicken from farm to plate.
Satish Kumar on "What Is a Sacred Place?"
3 min · 1,529 views today · Satish Kumar brings a Hindu, Buddhist and Jain perspective to the definition of "sacred place." We found his explanation so compelling that we edited a three-minute piece...
The Most Powerful Algorithm in the World
Joe Brewer · 1,415 views today · After the insanity of the U.S. election, a lot of people are blaming Facebook for its algorithms that parse us into ideological bubbles and spread “fake news” and other kinds...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Love Wins