Saturday, 12 September 2015

St Mary's University, Twickenham: Centre for Law and Culture conference

The theme is change. There's a rip in the red and gold wallpaper which needs restoration. Not too much change, please.

We're attached to the fantasy building which gave its name to Strawberry Hill Gothic for this year's conference at the Centre for Law and Culture.

I missed day one; this is day two.

Dr Kim Barker, Wolverhampton University: 'Changing legal #culture one tweet at a time.'

Claudia Carr, Hertfordshire University: 'Organ donation and presumed consent in Wales.'

Dr Dawn Moore, Carleton University, Canada: 'What the police saw: images changing the prosecution of domestic violence.'

Kelly Ann Cannon, Derby University: 'The condition of change' (about graffiti).

Finola Farrant, Roehampton University: 'Shapeshifting: the demand for "change" in ex-prisoners' identities.'

Professor Chris Harding, Aberystwyth University: 'Cartooning cartels: changing modes of attacking business cartels in early 20th century political cartoons and early 21st century cinema.'

Professor Fiona Macmillan, Birkbeck, mops up the proceedings after a sandwich lunch: 'Locating the cultural turn in law.' What is law in the context of culture? Or vice versa?

This perplexing cultural turn defies location. I think the most satisfactory answer lies with W. H. Auden:

Law, Like Love

Law, say the gardeners, is the sun,
Law is the one
All gardeners obey
To-morrow, yesterday, to-day.

Law is the wisdom of the old,
The impotent grandfathers feebly scold;
The grandchildren put out a treble tongue,
Law is the senses of the young.

Law, says the priest with a priestly look,
Expounding to an unpriestly people,
Law is the words in my priestly book,
Law is my pulpit and my steeple.

Law, says the judge as he looks down his nose,
Speaking clearly and most severely,
Law is as I've told you before,
Law is as you know I suppose,
Law is but let me explain it once more,
Law is The Law.

Yet law-abiding scholars write:
Law is neither wrong nor right,
Law is only crimes
Punished by places and by times,
Law is the clothes men wear
Anytime, anywhere,
Law is Good morning and Good night.

Others say, Law is our Fate;
Others say, Law is our State;
Others say, others say
Law is no more,
Law has gone away.

And always the loud angry crowd,
Very angry and very loud,
Law is We,
And always the soft idiot softly Me.

If we, dear, know we know no more
Than they about the Law,
If I no more than you
Know what we should and should not do
Except that all agree
Gladly or miserably
That the Law is
And that all know this
If therefore thinking it absurd
To identify Law with some other word,
Unlike so many men
I cannot say Law is again,

No more than they can we suppress
The universal wish to guess
Or slip out of our own position
Into an unconcerned condition.
Although I can at least confine
Your vanity and mine
To stating timidly
A timid similarity,
We shall boast anyway:
Like love I say.

Like love we don't know where or why,
Like love we can't compel or fly,
Like love we often weep,
Like love we seldom keep.

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