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CALUMET . intercultural law and humanities review
ISSN 2465-0145 (on-line)
Klee’s Cognitive Legacy and Human Rights as Intercultural Transducers: Modern Art, Legal Translation, and Micro-spaces of Coexistence
Ricca M.
The essay addresses the issue concerning intercultural translation and its relationship with human rights. This matter is analyzed by taking human rights as interfaces of metaphorical intercultural “transduction” rather than as parameters to assess the lawfulness of people’s behaviors or their legal systems of belonging. Such an approach is in tune with the intercultural law methodology. It implies a threefold reading of Otherness, which comprises the accomplishment of the following three passages:
1) Crossing narratives; 2) Intercultural cross-contextualizations; 3) Translations/Transactions.
The completion of these tasks is designed to allow legal interpreters to go beyond the morphological appearance of the conduct of Others. The necessity of acquiring such an ability to look beyond appearances is coextensive with the need for self-distancing from one’s own cultural habits and patterns of judgment when Otherness is to be understood and then legally qualified. For this purpose, the intercultural approach includes, as one of its main requirements, learning to see morphological appearances as hermeneutical and phenomenological results rather than data.
Each of these results is an outcome of a process; and every process unfolds by drawing a story. The narrative components of such experiential plots can be observed and considered as connotative elements of the above result, namely the socio-cultural datum. Subjects and objects are both dialectical ingredients and actors of the narrative traces that give rise to the semantic structure and morphological appearance of the datum. Understanding and translating Otherness requires, therefore, an effort to dis-compose the connotative landscapes underlying forms and appearances of phenomena (conduct, behaviors, words), so as to see the formation processes of data in their constitutive elements. Forms and their spatial fashion can be considered, then, through the lens of a temporal assessment capable of sequencing and contextualizing the constitutive elements of morphological appearances. This sort of microscopic gaze cast towards and through the connotative prehistory of facts involving cultural Otherness can open the way to a creative intercultural translation. Human rights can serve, at that point, as axiological and semantic interfaces able to reveal continuities between the connotative landscapes upon which cultural differences rely. The artistic avant-garde of the early XX century and, specifically, Paul Klee’s “figuration theory,” paved the way to this “art” of connotative dis-composition and creative re-composition. For this very reason, the essay undertakes, in its central section, a sort of journey through the imaginative and theoretical territories of Klee’s “figurational” thought. The essay contends that jurists and politicians may have much to learn from the cognitive legacy of this great artist. This is because the intercultural conflicts that contemporary global society faces have primarily to do with—this is the central point—a form of cognitive un-readiness prior to rather than after conflicts of values.
Following an analysis of Klee’s dis-compositional methodology, the essay proceeds with the application of an intercultural approach to practical issues, and specifically to the troubles of coexistence between cultural differences in urban micro-spaces. Lived spaces are, however, social spaces: as such they are targets of axiological, teleological and normative projections. Understanding the spaces of coexistence requires, therefore, an analysis of its connections with categorical and normative “scansions” that give “rhythm” to the uses of that space and, consequentially, mold the meaning of it. The reciprocal implications between subjectivity, spatiality and categorization can be effectively understood through the spectrum of a typical legal feature of housing coexistence: nuisance law. The outcome of such an analysis leads to the recognition of human rights and their intercultural use as interfaces/transducers suitable for conveying translation and interpenetration between physical and cultural, close and remote, spaces of experience. Such translational and transactional practices allow for the emersion of a space for multicultural coexistence endowed with the effectiveness inherent to the normativity of law. It appears as a chorological dimension, within which sign and matter, subject and space, categories and geography/topography, together, rearticulate their connotations along a continuum of sense and experience that finds in the condominium and its process of apart-ment (separation/seclusion) both a metaphor and a laboratory for the possibilities of global coexistence.




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