Political theory resized

New Article: “The Light of Reason”: Reading the Leviathan with “The Werckmeister Harmonies”

 Michael J. Shapiro: “The Light of Reason”: Reading the Leviathan with “The Werckmeister Harmonies”, Political Theory, 45 (2017), pp. 385-415.
Abstract: In this essay I stage an encounter between Hobbes’s Leviathan and two versions of the “The Werckmeister Harmonies” (a chapter in Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s novel The Melancholy of Resistance [1998] and a film version of the story by the director Bela Tarr [2000]). The story contains a number of Hobbes icons, for example, an enormous stuffed whale and a “Prince,” both of which arrive with a circus that comes to a Hungarian town and precipitates fear and chaos. I argue that the story thinks (differently within the two genres) both with and against Hobbes, enabled by Hobbes’s aesthetic style (which I elaborate) while at the same time challenging the historical prescience of his political philosophy. Sorting the diverse ontologies of the story’s main characters helps us better appreciate Hobbes as a writer and distance ourselves from Hobbes’s solution to political disorder.