Navigating the Looking Glass: Severing the Lawyer's Head in Arkham Asylum

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Reading Arkham Asylum jurisprudentially, we encounter a story of the meeting of reason and unreason in the context of justice – of conscious law and its unconscious threat. Batman’s exploration of the Asylum is symbolic of the legal unconscious, and reflects the processes of repression that can be seen in dominant legal knowledge. A threat to this dominant knowledge can be seen in Two-Face’s reliance on his coin to ‘judge’ his victims. Moreover, Arkham Asylum configures the threat of law’s unconscious as the lawyer’s severed head inside the house of law. Ultimately, Batman’s journey through Arkham Asylum reminds law of the aesthetic and irrational contexts that it strives to deny and from which it seeks to defend itself – and that cultural legal studies explores. It recalls the unreason outside law’s logic, the chaos outside its order, the madness outside its sanity. The lesson of Batman’s encounters in the Asylum is that we should remember the ‘madness’ outside the legal order, and thus recognise that law is always already more than its conscious ‘sanity’ can contain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-417
JournalGriffith Law Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2015


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