Law in Contemporary Society

Pluralistic Meaning

-- By GregOrr - 12 Jun 2009

In my first paper, I discussed content and sense in reality, communication, and making decisions. With reference to a chapter of Lawyerland called “All Great Problems Come from the Streets,” I’ll discuss the struggle over meaning within the legal profession.

Adjudicating Meaning

“This is a business in which everyone relies on representations,” Judge Day says. “Lawyers are the ones who invented spin.” She distinguishes this form of sometimes somewhat 'lying' truth/perception skew/management, however, from outright misrepresentation. Of the less objectionable variety, or at least the variety with more difficult grounds of objection, which can be frustrating and even more subject to vulnerability or effective difference, she says, “Lawyers know too much. If you know too much, how don’t you lie?” I might interpret some sense of "how don't you preferably angle/manipulate?"

There’s “too much meaning”—in the context of contents, people, positions, facts, aspects (how bout them timestamps?), possibilities, interests/wills, jurisdictions, statutes, cases, procedures, definitions, references, awarenesses, records, interpretations, implications, certainties and uncertainties, knowledge, sense, accuracy/precision/alternativity, “everything you say has another meaning.” Since “a real lawyer has an ethical obligation to defend his or her client,” there's some typicality of lawyers approaching meaning with partisan opportunism. On one hand, “the posturing, the playacting, arguing over the smallest things, the narcissism, the beyond-belief egomania—it’s all part of that.” But on the other hand, “it’s inherent in the process.”

There are intentions/facilities/procedures/protections to get at true/good/right/fair, and in the end a judge or jury adjudicates meaning by “discerning,” which is possible with reasonable effectiveness, but can still be fallible or flawed in objective/subjective reality/awareness/interpretation/preference/capacity or otherwise sort of untrue or difficult for the situated/judged. And there are kind/degree analogies in life outside of lawyering and the courtroom, in the kitchen space of content/people.

The Winkers

This circumstance/process can give rise to a sometimes powerful and annoying type, which I’ll call ‘the winker.’ Winkers are well-prepared, tenacious, and endowed with heightened situational awareness. Situational awareness is the knowledge of underlying factors combined with perception of others’ projection and reception of (un)intended meanings. It’s the capacity suggested by the poker saying, “If you can’t spot the mark, then you’re the mark.”

Situational awareness puts a grouping in relief, with people operating at different levels of the conversation. Winkers can manipulate various levels simultaneously, perhaps by goading one toward a dead-end while winking at another. The winker can then use the winked-at (who feels good for being winked at) to reinforce the misdirection while he talks with his secretary about travel plans.

People capable of this sort of behavior may be proud to be in tune and perhaps believe in their superiority (“it’s those who don’t listen to what they’re saying who are the most insufferable people on earth”), but Judge Day gives examples to show why others may dislike them or be unnerved/concerned about things like that. “He was looking straight at the girl with enormous confidence. You know, that look—and letting you know it—of knowing something you don’t. Of being above, somehow.” She is even disconcerted by someone she regards affectionately, “You never know about Paul. He sounds so sincere—the way he looks and talks—and he is, but sometimes you don’t know when he’s kidding you.” They may seem to have exclusive access to a higher/superior level of meaning/circumstance, or just their own in a way that may be unreliable/uncertain/unfavorable/tricky to you, that you may be condescended/subject to.

The Insolent and Scared

In contrast, Judge Day presents the “insolent and scared,” people who may have difficulty in content situations and possibly resent the systemic and interpersonal imposition of meaning. Under this heading, she includes a young counterfeiter: “You know you’re going to put them in prison, and they know you know it, and they try to look right through you … Insolent. Toward you, toward themselves, toward life itself.” And she includes a former clerk: “He says—he’s quite agitated about it—that there no longer is a nation. What is really going on is that we’re in a state of civil wars … A Generation X lawyer has thoughts like this? Well, I can tell you, just because they may be insolent, and they are scared, doesn’t mean there aren’t some very serious sorts in their twenties roaming around out there.” (It might be possible that lawyers and judges, or at least some, are addled a bit by dealing with problematic/adversarial cases as much as they do, like more element/proportion focused in that way than your average bear, while other less problematic/adversarial content/life is more common. I do not think it's or want civil wars and whatnot. The object referent more generally could be more or less benignly/reasonably discussed, and insofar as there are details in this essay that are not the best content/tone or problematically effectual I would want to withdraw/fix/improve. I prefer/like benign content/stakes, appreciation of and earnestness/facility to good/right/reasonable/decent/comfortable/fine. Jesus said, "From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three", but in my family, still at least, that's more like two on two cards with the dog as all-time-dog.)

They may not know about or believe some things of circumstance or the system's assignment of meaning, may have problems or be difficultly subject, may be expressive or active or resigned with respect to that, and this may be observed or otherwise advocated in some extent. But they have doubts and fear for themselves— whether it be a child scared of the dark, or like Kafka said, “In the struggle between you and the world, back the world”, or some Focker situation, etc. Aside from more troubling contents/circumstances, some contents/dynamics in life can be observed or have characteristics in similar ways some, more or less good/right/true/understandable/coherent/graceful or this or that, often with humanism/perspective/facility/humor.

Deep Answers?

Joseph’s inscription for Lawyerland is a quote from Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet: “Don’t be confused by surfaces; in the depths, everything becomes law.” Is he telling us that indefiniteness/uncertainty or various perspective or contradiction are illusions and that there is law-like meaning in all cases? Accessible? Are the insolent and scared mired in an immature perception/reaction? (Mom's leg is a pretty safe base when you're a child. She wouldn't play a badly intended trick on you.) We commonly know/observe/assume specific nature of some things/causations, like leaves/flowers/etc, however much one perceives/attends/knows about this, while some other things/perspectives may be less definedly/fixedly natured (Flick's tongue was not stuck to a pole and then it was stuck to a pole, which is not a case that ought to be fixedly stuck that way, and then it wasn't stuck to a pole again, and he probably knows now not to do that, you can see what happened there at the ostensible natural understanding level, I don't know if it was necessarily to be that way, fate, f-lick, f-ate, ...), more variable or dynamically uncertain, or more obscure/inaccessible, though there may be actual/real case of that. Speculating as to natural... I'm not a scientist as to all these things, aside from educated amateur/observer, and it's many-detailed, and not to get into wondering about quantum physics here... as well as conceivably the supernatural/unseen. One wonder example is that the content/reason of eyebrows or other features is apparently approximately the same whether as result of intelligent design or evolution. Which seems more likely/perceivable to you? But if it's in God's image, where did the chicken or egg of His case come from? Etc details. Natural and by conscious awareness/motive/effort, including some actual/good/right substantiality/tendency/facility. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Judge Day offers a related view to Rilke's quote: “Perhaps the finest lawyer I’ve ever known used to say—it was one of his cardinal rules—if you look hard enough for an answer, you’ll find it. Everything’s there, you just have to look for it.” But the lawyer later reappears to urge, “Do whatever you can to achieve your objective.” That statement or approach might sometimes recast the first to mean that there will always be an argument to make for your objective, whether that is otherwise good/right/true or not, and some lawyerly phenomena, real or just cliche, can be like that. Willfulness may determine reason/meaning from one point of view while perhaps another exists with difference and substance/reason/meaning, with some objective/intersubjective understanding/rapprochement. How about the invisible hand? One of the things about that is that from the local position of a person, self-situation and reasonable self-interest is real, part of what exists and is plausible/accessible to be aware of and operate with (e.g., I know when I need to go to the bathroom and can handle that myself), has good/right sense/accessibility for self and others, including that one may respect and value interests of others, be reasonably nice/fair/muditic, practice the golden rule.

There's some difference in one's objective being true/good/right/fair generally rather than conditional upon the interests of a particular client/perspective/situation, though a client/perspective/situation is part of the whole. I wonder the extent to which lawyers experience a kind of odd conditional appropriateness sometimes in which they have objectives or make arguments on behalf of their clients that they don't actually regard as true/good/right/fair generally. Can note the difference between cases like that and some other jobs or content things more directly/simply interested in and approaching true/good/right/fair. Do lawyers with clients sometimes/typically actually have the perspective of trying to true/good/right/fair the case generally, believing or at least as proxy effectiveness to representation that that is true/good/right/fair appropriate and not true/good/right/fair appropriate in some general way, even if it in some sense favored one's client, is not actually favorable/comfortable. Perhaps in the process components they have sense of doing their part true/good/right/fair particular to their client representation, which is appropriate to the realm/consideration of the case, while hoping/expecting the other client to do the same and for the process through decision to be accurate to true/good/right/fair generally though perhaps their client representation thesis was understandably/appropriately/necessarily/knowingly aimed at a mark particular to their client oftentimes somewhat different from the general good decision, but it's not like they'd preferredly take advantage of the situation biased to their client ("did we perform too well and the other guy not so much so that it's offbase skewed? as my client's lawyer am I even allowed to less favorable to my client tempering to general true/good/right/fair assessment/way?"), they're interested in actual good case, inside and outside of the courtroom (other life things, like I don't steal your furniture not just because (1) I don't want it or (2) some external institution keeps me from doing so, which I am congenially adapted to, don't worry, it's effectively - and securely - that way, part of the effectiveness and security is that it's built well to ensure that effect and doesn't rely on some sense of my not advantage-taking goodness). The consideration then is whether the process is best adapted to true/good/right/fair generally and whether lawyers participating appropriately have issues of obfuscation/barrier to not-lying true/good/right/fair in a sophisticated client-particular and other/general/whole true/good/right/fair appropriateness/responsibility/circumstance.

If one's objective is true/good/right/fair generally, then everything is actually there in the way that it is, possibly aside from how well you grasp it, what it's actually like, how palatable/preferable it is, content/sense reality/reason as may be or may be made to be. There's a line in Samuel Beckett's Watt that says "no symbols where none intended," but is Watt probably a pun for what? On what mountain, Of course the Bible's about true/good/right/fair, that's why they call it the Bible! Consider the ontology and/or ontologizing of actual/true/good/right/fair.

Willfulness and content/position/sense cases may still exist, generally and possibly in spin-like ways, possibly with cases familiar, like a lawyer, like the young counterfeiter, like Bartleby, or like the Underground Man with people being/acting/thinking in consistent/different/wondering ways, more or less independently/relatedly/conciliantly. In some cases, if you don't like it you can go suck an egg may come into play with regard to content/rapprochement. In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus suggests, "There is no fate that cannot be overcome by scorn," and/or thinks of a "sublimate your situation" oblique-ish strategy, "One must imagine Sisyphus happy." Though I'm not sure how you would or could feel about something like being head down in the mud of an Inferno (sassafras), whether some conceivable negatives are due to stupidity or malice - how about "no cruel and unusual punishment"? The latter part of Harry Nilsson's "Who Done It?" is kind of funny/pertinent, not that murder situations are common or wanted/liked/done by people like the singer in that song. Regarding a somewhat similar point in Christian sense, there is bearing your cross.

A multiplicity of contents/meanings has seemed to me a positive fact of life, in some ways/extents at least, for instance I like music and have some personal taste/freedom, though there may be some issues. While favored contents/interpretations may be most advantageous for some people at some time and place, local truth can be mistaken for global truth to the detriment of freedom, creativity, and diversity and at the risk of overrelying on flawed or incomplete building blocks. William H. Simon suggested, "A society which treats all conflict as a threat sacrifices individual development to conformism and impoverishes both self-expression and social relations. In such a society, where officially sanctioned patterns of behavior are perceived as coercively imposed, they engender cynicism and frustration. Where they are spontaneously adopted, they narrow the individual's perception of the world and of his own possibilities." The freedom of content/interpretation/perspective/will keeps society in flux, content/sense/people, possibly with “no one in complete agreement with anyone else about any of it”, though there is substantial thoroughfare of reality/content/sense, which can be substantially actual/true/congenial/agreeable (good/right is a parallel for congenial/agreeable, though they are not synonyms, considerably), generally and/or individually/particularly/availably, etc. 2+2=4 is a pretty solid example piece of benign/good/right/true content that exists, that people have and are pretty much same/agreed about. I can do it right now with my fingers, two fingers, one, two, two other fingers, one, two, them together, one, two, three, four, variousness/doubt/other-possibility case aside. School makes sense in a good/right/reasonable/suited way, in first principles circumstance/idealism and in good faith assumedly honestly/earnestly intended/done, with some positive nature/facility/validation/accountability, e.g., one's experience and understandability/conscience. The distance of the pitcher's mound from home plate makes sense. Vehicles are for transportation in space. I'm an excellent driver. If I was forced not to wear boxers, like one of the other kinds, that would be a detriment to my freedom, but with reasonably flexibility to circumstances, and you don't have to be exactly the same in these details. About this one, can definitely have different things you health/taste need/like fine in flexible/congenial case/proportion some. Etc. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", and I'm presently reading Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth. Some narrow/broad field/issues of good/right. Jesus says narrow is the way that leads to life, and in familiar-to-me normal situation/sense that is true and practiced significantly and does lead to life. I/people do things pretty specifically within conceivability/possibility in a sensible way, e.g., when I have to go to the grocery store I go to the grocery store and then return to my home and eat and drink water and stuff reasonably specifically to health/taste life maintenance - not sure if an apple a day'll keep the doctor away, or if motherhood and apple pie is truly wholesomely benign, amongst other things - though this is a sense/finding of that that is pretty common, not that rare. Some possibly further issues/specifics of whats/narrowness. Do you not do, like, armed robberies, cause that could be hazardous? God, no, not even if you asked me to. Heat is not my idea of a good time. I could, and might want to, wear plain white boxers, not that that specific detail's a big deal, and I don't want to set up rules that would be onerous or inappropriately/overly specific/consequential like if I step on a crack I break my mom's back, but I like good white, good/right/comfortable. Good/right content/lampstand, some circumstance/cinch of actual/true/good/right/fair/reasonable.

Goodness/fit, a particular/flexible level of content/fit... possibly cases that are difficult or with a sardonic level of circumstance/intention/misfit? If you/I were between a 36” and 38” size belt, perhaps around 37” with some specificity/case/use range, e.g., how much turkey have you/I eaten?, if you/I get a 36” or 38” because those are the available sizes, you/I might be notch 2 on the 36" or notch 4 on the 38" which are both ok to flexible level of fit, between notches 2 and 4 is a best-available fit correctness/validity level. Possibly “I’m actually between notches on the ideal level though it’s good/ok/fine level”. Regarding belts this is not commonly a big deal, can get an off-the-rack notch within a half-inch and the use case is good flexible enough for that, good valid range ok/workable, probably without too-substantial waves of content/aspect problem/consequence or putt trajectory offness/class/extrapolation/association in this way or that. Could custom make a belt, sell belts by each inch, do a continuous model (e.g., those braidy ones), change self/perspective/orientation in some way (some contents/questions are not just fitting the person, but the person being in line with good/right content/way), not have it be that people are variably plural, or some other “where we’re going we don't need belts”. In examples other than belts, this could be more of an issue, and if something external is trying to force a bad content/notch upon y-o-u, or vice versa you are trying to force a bad content/notch upon them, perhaps in content/system nature/performance generally or in further accident/assuming/interpreting/preventing/foisting/scheming/etc, that can be pretty uncomfortable/problematic. A carnival ring-toss game scam, for example, may be one in which none of the supposed good options are actually attainable/workable, though in many cases of life and law something like this does not appear to be true, e.g., I am able to have a decent belt that fits/works well enough within sense/awareness of decency and well enough and I don't mean anything bad by that I just need a good reasonable belt.


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r31 - 12 Jan 2022 - 16:09:02 - GregOrr
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