The Chaotic Pseudotext
This article tries to get away from the traditionally epistemological (and instrumental, and normative) focus of the case method. In what follows, I will introduce two interrelated ideas designed to elucidate the problematic nature of contemporary legal interpretation: the concept of law as a chaotic discourse, and the problem of the legal pseudotext. These ideas will be presented and explored while we undertake a close reading of an appellate court opinion; however, the purpose of this reading is not the traditional one of attempting to determine if the case · is “correctly decided.” Rather we will consider various questions that have a primarily ontological emphasis. What, for example, is “the text of a statute?” How is it that a statute’s text “speaks?” What is the nature of a “subjective” as opposed to an “objective” phenomenon? What kind of thing is a legal rule? Where is “it” “located?” In particular, what (and where) are “the rules of language?” Such questions will lead us toward the main points of our inquiry: to what extent is what we call “law” a collection of conceptually incommensurable interpretive practices that undertake the paradoxical task of trying to “interpret” semantically impoverished pseudotexts? In what ways do the chaotic structure of contemporary legal discourse and the pseudotextual character of various legal texts feed off each other? Moreover, how does the practice pf law itself help produce the highly problematic documents I will name “chaotic pseudotexts?” These questions, and others like them, will not help readers decide whether or not this case – or any other – is correctly decided, nor will these questions help anyone devise an efficacious method of statutory interpretation. But they will – well, reader, the author of this text must leave it to you to decide if such questions are worth asking.