New York

Stan Douglas

David Zwirner | 525 & 533 West 19th Street

According to Max Brod, the first time Kafka read from The Trial, everyone present, including the author himself, was overcome with laughter. In “Humor, Irony, and the Law,” Gilles Deleuze reads this irruption of laughter alongside that occasioned by the death of Socrates at the end of Plato’s Phaedo. The irony of the inappropriate laughter signals defiance to what Deleuze describes as a modern conception of “the law,” which “defines a realm of transgression where one is already guilty, and where one oversteps the bounds without knowing what they are . . . Even guilt and punishment do not tell us what the law is, but leave it in a state of indeterminacy equaled only by the extreme specificity of the punishment.” If this conception of law is the necessary precondition for the “Kafkaesque,” it also seems uncannily acute in light of the Patriot Act. This state, which Deleuze calls modernity—in

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