2014-11-17

The Capital Riding the Law under the Gaze of the Terror

Legend has it that the sage Aristotle fell in love with an Athenian prostitute to the point of losing his reason. The anecdote was later taken up by many writers and artists throughout History in different versions. One of them is the poem Lai d'Aristote by Henry d'Andeli (or Henri de Valenciennes), in which the character of Alexander the Great appears as the third party. Alexander, while conquering India, falls in love with a local young court lady, who distracts him from his war duties. Aristotle, who is responsible for the warrior's education, suggests him to abandon the beautiful woman, in order to accomplish his military labor in a proper and virtuous way. After that, the courtesan decides to take revenge on the philosopher, by seducing him while he is engaged in his studies. Aristotle cannot resist the temptation, and she agrees to grant him her favors, provided that he accepts to be ridden as a horse. The fable seems to prevent the Knowledge, face to its jealousy against the Power, from the risk of falling victim to the Lust, and distancing itself in this way from Virtue.

But today we can interpret this allegory in a different sense. Thus, even though the West was able to conjure for quite some time, thanks to the Christian Virgin, the ancient pagan Sacred Prostitute, she seems to revive today
in global capitalism under new forms. Now it is the Law who becomes openly seduced by the Capital, jealous of the pleasures the Terror enjoys in its intimacy. And, even though the Law presents itself as an example of virtue, the fact is that it doesn't hesitate to be humiliated, by obeying the dictates of the Capital. All that happens while the proud Terror, regarding from afar, enjoys the moral weakness of the Law, its lack of will.

Image after Johannes Sadeler I's Phyllis and Aristotle (16th cent.) [pd] and others.