Interrupting the courtroom organism: screaming bodies, material affects and the theatre of cruelty

Brooks, V. 2019. Interrupting the courtroom organism: screaming bodies, material affects and the theatre of cruelty. Law, Culture and the Humanities. 15 (2), pp. 332-351. doi:10.1177/1743872114543767

TitleInterrupting the courtroom organism: screaming bodies, material affects and the theatre of cruelty
AuthorsBrooks, V.
Abstract

This article offers a method of reading the courtroom which produces an alternative mapping of the space. My method combines a reading of Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty with a Deleuzian theoretical analysis. I suggest that this is a useful method since it allows examination of the spatial praxes of the courtroom which pulsate with a power to organize, terrorize and to judge. This method is also able to conceptualize the presence of ‘‘screaming’’ bodies and living matter which are appropriated to build, as well as feed the presence and functioning of the courtroom space, or organism. By using a method that articulates the cry of these bodies in the shadow of the organism, it becomes clear that this cry is both unwelcome and suppressed by the courtroom. The howl of anxious bodies enduring the process and space of the law can be materialized through interruptions to the courtroom, such as when bodies stand when they should not and when they speak when they should be silent. These vociferous actualizations of the scream serve only to feed the organism they seek to disturb, yet if the scream is listened to before it disrupts, the interruption becomes-imperceptible to the courtroom. Through my Artaudian/Deleuzian reading, I give a voice to the corporeal gasp that lingers before the cry, which is embedded within the embodied multiplicity from which it is possible to draw a creative line of flight. The creative momentum of this line of flight produces a sustainable interruption to the courtroom process, which instead of being consumed by the system, has the potential to produce new courtroom alignments. My text therefore offers an alternative reading of the courtroom, and in doing so also offers a refined understanding of how to productively ‘‘interrupt’’ the courtroom process.

Keywordscourtroom; deleuze; artaud; affect; material; body; interruption
JournalLaw, Culture and the Humanities
Journal citation15 (2), pp. 332-351
ISSN1743-8721
Year2019
PublisherSage
Publisher's versionInterrupting_the_Courtroom_Organism-libre.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/1743872114543767
Publication dates
Published online21 Jul 2014
Published in print01 Jun 2019

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