It's no longer possible to rely 100% on ads to keep our organization going. If you believe in why Films For Action exists, we hope you'll become a supporter on Patreon. A monthly donation of $1, $3, $5 or more per month will really help!
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
Jun 27, 2015

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
Featured Films
The Staging Post: Courageous People Never Give Up! (2017)
61 min The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats' and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the school which inspired a refugee education revolution. A real-life...
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective (2015)
92 min Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our...
Within Reach (2013)
87 min Within Reach explores one couple's pedal-powered search for a place to call home. Mandy and Ryan gave up their jobs, cars, and traditional houses to 'bike-pack' 6500 miles around the USA seeking sustainable community. Rather than looking in a traditional neighborhood, they...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th century when it forced Native American children into government boarding schools. Today, volunteers...
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min This stunning film takes you on a hypnotic journey, reaching to the past to understand the origins of the catastrophic environmental transitions we now face. Over two years, director Matt Anderson traveled 16,000 miles to document firsthand our modern industrial world and the...
The Economics of Happiness (2011)
65 min Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There...
Trending Today


Love Films For Action? Become a Patron!

Our Patreon campaign is now live! We hope you'll be among the first to support this new direction for Films For Action. The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year and become 100% member supported. A monthly pledge of just $1 -5 per month x a few thousand awesome people will ensure we can continue our work and grow our impact across the world. Click here to join.

Join us on Facebook
Love Wins