|The ideal city|
Why does this matter? Well one sense in which it might matter is that criminal law theories are often concerned with questions of the normative - how the law ought to be (as opposed to how it is) - and use this as a standard against which to criticise existing law. However, for such criticisms to have purchase they would surely need to engage with how the criminal law sees or understands itself. If, then, the criminal law's self image is based on practicality or efficiency, then the criticism might be understood as misplaced. Another sense in which it might be important would be in terms of understanding its broad self-image or the sense of place or time in which it sees itself operating.
While it common to talk about the imaginary in relation to individuals, it is les common to think about it in relation to a social institution such as law. Can it have an imaginary? And if so where would we find it? And of course it would change over time - there is no single imaginary.
One possibility might be academic writings that order and reflect on the criminal law, or alternatively the judgments of of appellate courts. What do they understand the law to be doing. In what does it consist? What holds it together?
On a map of the law executed upon such a plan there are no terrae incognitae, no blank spaces: nothing is at least omitted, nothing unprovided for: the vast and hitherto shapeless expanse of jurisprudence is collected and condensed into a compact sphere which the eye at a moment's warning can traverse in all imaginable directions
For some reason this phrase always makes me think of Piero della Francesca's famous image, the ideal city. It is a beautiful painting of symmetrical renaissance palazzi. It demonstrates the techniques of perspective. But in reverse from the normal technique of opening out from a central object in the foreground to a broader landscape in the background, this painting pulls us in to the circular palace in the middle.
|The Ideal City?|