Lachlan Brown on Wed, 1 May 2002 00:22:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Love is the Law: Intro

Love is The Law: the passion of revolt 
textual communities in the culture of the press pamphlet during the English Revolution 

Lachlan Brown 

Not a full year since, being quiet at my work, 
my heart was filled with sweet thoughts, and 
many things were revealed to me which I never 
read in books, nor heard from the mouth of any 
flesh, and when I began to speak of them, some 
people could not bear my words, and amongst these 
revelations this was one: <I>The the earth shall 
be made a common treasury of livlihood to whole 
mankind, without respect to persons; </I> and I 
had a voice within me that bade me declare it all 
abroad, which I did obey, for I declared it by 
word of mouth wheresoever I came. Then I was made 
to write a little book called The new Law of 
righteousness, and therein I declared it; yet 
my mind was not at rest, because nothing was acted, 
and thoughts run in me that words and writings were 
nothing and must die, for action is the life of all, 
and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing. Within 
a little time I was made obedient to the word in that 
particular likewise; for I took my spade and went and 
broke the ground upon George Hill in Surrey, thereby 
declaring freedom to the Creation, and that the earth 
must be set free from the entanglements of Lords and 
Landlords; and that it shall become a common treasury 
to all…. – 

Gerrard Winstanley, A Watch-word to the City of London 
and the Armie (August 26, 1649) (1) 

The radical writings of the seventeenth century English Press 
Pamphlet reside at the threshold of our modernity. They represent 
a navigation from sacred to secular, a negotiation of the source 
of sense from Word of God to Heart of Man. For the radical writers 
discussed below, each meaning was invested with and each action was 
apprehended as a reconstitution of the communicative bonds that attach
 us to the world. Briefly put, through an analysis of de-sanctified 
power and an understanding that without love there is no bond, civil or
 natural, they posited love as the law. 

For some this analysis was knowing and reflexive, intimate with the 
conditions of production, circulation and reception of their writing. 
Their analysis – a “law written in the heart” (Winstanley 1650) was 
concerned with the dispersal of power and control. As such these 
writings have particular relevance for the present re-distribution of 
media and communications in digital media, in contesting meanings 
applied to memory and to history as well as the future or foresight in 
a scriptural economy, and in reattaching them to notions of community. 


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