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Dale Mitchell
University of the Sunshine Coast

In Australia, the connection between gambling and governance has become increasingly apparent, reflected in recent debates surrounding the distribution of taxation revenue amongst states. The relationship between gambling and taxable funds ensures that these spaces are not only domains of gambling and commodification in respect of entertainment, but rather the very paradigm of government. At the same time, law struggles to capture the multiple artifices of gambling. Despite statutory power seeking to capture these devices of chance and play through a materialist lens, the form of this practice transcends these boundaries. That is to say, despite the attempts of the law to capture gambling through a focus on the interaction between subject and object, the use of tokens, levers, cards or cash, and even the spaces in which these acts are undertaken, it is the form of these constructs – the isolation of the subject through the adventure of chance – which disrupts the language which attempts to capture the gambler.

This paper seeks to read the gambler—and by extension the law’s attempt to regulate gambling—through the concept of aventure. Goethe describes ‘the Daimon’, the figure of chance and play whose cosmic power and natural law rules over mankind. This law is tied to a sense of fate, a binding which allows Goethe to separate his existence into the demonic – a space which allows him to separate himself from ethical judgment. In The Adventure (2019), Giorgio Agamben draws upon Goethe to describe the aventure – a term which seems to have become inexplicably tied to concepts of destiny and fate, but which in actuality operates as a space where language is disrupted and, as a result, law is undone. In adventure, ‘the Joy of the Court’, the external nature of pure event exposes the limits of law – a construction which is tied to Agamben’s earlier writings on the gesture.

The gambler is an adventurer. To this end, the failure of the law to adequately confront emerging forms of gambling is the result of the adventure at the heart of this practice, a gesture which undoes language.

Dale Mitchell is a PhD Candidate at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) School of Law and Criminology. His dissertation ‘“What is a just representation?”: Cultural Legal Studies in the Age of Transmedia and Adaptation’ reads select legal paradigms (stasis; persona; polis) as they transform, translate and transcend the boundaries of form through adapted multi-texts. It uses adaptation analysis as a way of re-articulating and re-reading legal terms. Such an analysis reveals new insights into legal concepts (civil war, anthropocentric rights, the state) and form itself (film, comics, video games, novels). It reveals that nothing is ever just a representation. In this sense, this project sits on the threshold of legal rhetoric and cultural legal analysis, critiquing both as areas which must evolve if they are to maintain authority in the current societal and technological moment.

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