License, please.

“The legitimate monarch is he who is loved by his people.”

  • Villefort, from The Count of Monte Cristo (before promising the titular character’s employer that he will do everything within his power to ensure that character’s release from prison.)
  • Unfortunately, Villefort was one of the characters who had had the protagonist, Dantes, imprisoned. Villefort was a young, ambitious judge, and our hero had been innocently carrying a message that would have endangered Villefort (as son of the Bonapartist to whom the message was addressed), but the judge was able to use the information to ingratiate himself with the then current monarch, Louis XVIII. Villefort’s father protected him (and his position) when Napoleon returned to power, but when the above discussion took place, the judge wanted to avoid a possible inquiry. After Waterloo, Villefort’s power increased even further, and his actions – and inaction – under both monarchs ensured that Dantes would never (legally) be freed.

    The book later shows the further corruption of this judge, a character who was initially almost sympathetic – within a couple years of sacrificing Dantes to advance his position, a position for which he buries his own “illegitimate” newborn son alive to protect.

    I summarized this plotline to put across, and remember, another aspect of Lacan’s thought – the creation of one’s character by “the choice of coordinates which prevent me from doing some things and impel me to do others. This brings us to the Lacanian notion of act: in an act, I precisely redefine the very coordinates of what I cannot and must do.”

    The Zizek article where I found this quote seems to imply that this “act” can be applicable to nations or cultures as well as people, and warns against “the elitist notion of democracy, i.e., the idea of a ‘necessary lie,’ of how elites should rule, aware of the actual state of things (brutal materialist logic of power, etc.), and feeding people with fables which keep them satisfied in their blessed ignorance…” Written in 2003, this article seems to prophesize current events, as a man who tried to “spark a domestic debate of the role of the military and foreign policy in general” faces up to life imprisonment.

    As Villefort said to his (formerly revolutionary) father, “Prophets of evil are not in favor at the court…”


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