The latest video in my series about Austrian concepts of law and the Austrian experience of landscape is called “Preservation Waltz.” Rare books, forests, and domestic architecture. Sustainability is the key principle:
I’m pleased to share the latest video from my developing film about law and landscape in Austria. This segment is called “Florian & Friends Talk about Purity”:
The video is about water, water law, Austrian identity, legal philosophy, concepts of the state, ideas of the public, approaches to time and tradition, metaphor, and some great old books. Plus, there’s a cameo appearance by a sweet Alpine cow.
When my wife and I were living in Salzburg last semester, I had the chance to talk with a local archivist with a surprising combination of skills. We had a wide-ranging conversation about music, mountains, law, and what it means to be Austrian. Our discussion will be part of my video-in-progress—”Wood, Water, Stone, Sky, Milk”—but for now I’ve created a preview. You can watch it below, or if the video doesn’t appear automatically in your browser or email, just click here.
Lately I’ve been working on a full-length film about the relation between law and landscape in Austria. The film is called “Stone, Water and Wood”—or, when I’m feeling especially ambitious, “Wood, Water, Stone, Sky, Milk.” It’s based on my time as a Fulbright scholar in Salzburg in 2015.
Here’s a teaser, most of it filmed deep under ground:
And here’s another excerpt, about the history of Austria forest law:
Heads-up about the second video: some peacocks chime in at the end. And heads-up about both videos: sound and color correction will come once I assemble the full project.
Any thoughts or comments greatly appreciated! Danke vielmals!
Here are three improbable things collected into one audio file: me talking 1) on Austrian radio, 2) in German, and 3) about my latest video project (“Wood, Water, Stone, Sky, Milk”). The program was broadcast recently on “Salzburg Aktuell” on radio ORF.
And while I’m on foreign languages, three nice discussions of The Rule of the Clan appeared recently in Sweden, in Dagens Nyheter, here, and in Svenska Dagbladet: a full review here and a mention here. I’ve been extraordinarily pleased with the attention given to the book there.
Finally, my friend Ulrich Haltern and I recently published an article in the EUtopia Magazine about liberal identity in Europe after the terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. We wrote most of the piece back in mid-January, so we’re glad to finally see it available. It was originally written in German, and it reads better in that language, but an English translation is also available.
My latest video is about rare books, jazz, the passage of time, and old movies … and the law reports of the great jurist Edward Coke:
For a 1080p version for the most current systems, click here. For multiple formats on my YouTube channel, here (select the settings tab on the lower-right corner of the frame—that’s the wheel icon, the third icon from the right).
In part three of “Walking with Horatio Alger,” I take a train ride to Philadelphia’s Chinatown, spend an afternoon in a lonely academic library, drive to a Massachusetts cemetery while listening to Fats Waller, and relax at a party with a bunch of fun-loving kids. How can video help bring a 1909 edition of Ragged Dick back into some of its original spatial and temporal relationships?
I’ve made a new video—about Blackstone’s Commentaries. It’s also about storytelling form in legal history. My sister-in-law once named a fish Blackstone, which I thought was a very nice sign of respect to the great eighteenth-century explicator of the common law, but the fish plays no part in this video. But Humphrey Bogart does. And so does Orson Welles. You can watch the video here:
In Part II of “Walking with Horatio Alger,” I follow the path taken by Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick on the first day of the novel. I’m accompanied by friend, former student, and lawyer Matt Milford, and we reflect on the story and its meaning while try to recapture its original sense of place. We also eat a delicious Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich.
For Part I of my Horatio Alger video series, see here.
September 13, 2014: This post has been moved to March 31, 2014 for organizational purposes.
In the latest issue of Telos, I review two books by Paul Kahn of Yale Law School, Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty and Finding Ourselves at the Movies: Philosophy for a New Generation. In both books, Kahn reads contemporary American law and politics through a framework influenced by the writings of Carl Schmitt. The theme of the issue is “After Faith” (for readers not based in a university, I’m afraid the issue is behind a pay wall).
In the review, I write that Kahn’s books “crisply document and provide a provocative theoretical account of an important feature of America’s distinctiveness: its social imaginary of ‘the political,’ particularly the conceptual, cultural, and affective place the social imaginary affords to law. In Kahn’s view, law in America is different. Most notably, law is imaginatively inextricable from the willingness of American citizens to engage in sacrificial acts of political violence. The reason for this potent union, he explains, is theological. The American nation-state—born of revolution and deriving its legitimacy from a trans-generational popular sovereign (‘we, the people’)—provides a source of ultimate meaning for its citizens analogous to religious belief. In Kahn’s analysis, that is, both the American experience of judicial review and the nation’s openness to the use of existential violence stem from a common source: the fact that ‘our political practices remain embedded in forms of belief and practice that touch upon the sacred.'”
Written last October, my review, titled “Love’s Empire,” begins with a reference to Vladimir Putin’s critique of the notion of American exceptionalism in his New York Timeseditorial of September 11, 2013. It concludes this way:
“Kahn’s compelling description of the American social imaginary thus would seem to raise more insistently Schmitt’s question about the capacity of societies governed by liberal normativity to survive. This question seems especially significant in the context of contemporary pessimism about trans-Atlanticism. For the past seventy years, the security of those European nations that most embody the de-politicized bourgeois liberalism that Schmitt deplored was underwritten, ironically, by a nation that Kahn convincingly describes as living entirely within the exception. Whether an increasingly centralized European Union or some future system of international law can provide similar security and stability while preserving essential domains of human freedom—including by resisting elite managerialism at home and the blandishments of authoritarians from abroad—remains an open question.”