anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

nemo dat quod non habet.

In Emergencies class, we talked about Carl Schmitt's objections to the liberal democracy constitutional framework and his criticisms of its inability to react to emergencies. In brief, Schmitt was of the opinion (well, more than an opinion really) that the sovereign is he who decides on the exception, which means that in times of emergencies that positive laws do not prescribe for, a ruler has to step out and seize absolute power in order to deal with these emergencies.

Is it any wonder then, that Schmitt had Hitler amongst his admirers? Schmitt was also a Nazi. How lovely, right?

One of the many contentious issues that was brought up in class today had to do with the paradoxical nature of this proposition. The ruler is given legitimacy by the law, but when he "decides on the exception", he goes beyond the law and vests in himself absolute power. The Indian national presenter quoted "nemo dat quod non habet", which is actually a property law principle that says that a person who receives property cannot have a better title than his predecessor. What the Latin phrase literally means, however, is this: No one can give what one does not have.

This post does not relate to Schmitt or legal theory, or anything legal, for that matter. Nemo dat quod non habet - you can't give what you don't have. The law cannot give the "sovereign" powers that the law itself does not have. A thief cannot get better title than a finder, or an occupier, or perhaps a custodian too, I don't really know.

And therefore, there has to come a point in time where I stop doing stupid things and settle down, listen to my head, resist the impulses. There's already a conclusion - nemo dat quod non habet, seriously.

And yet, and yet. Leopard and spots - you know what they say.


It's how I still get a stab of something when I see someone around school. I suppose the upside is that I don't see the said someone around much, but when I do, I start feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders again, however subtly, mildly, even vaguely. It has been quite a long time, you know. Normal people would've got over it by now. But there's nothing normal at all about it - all of it, any of it. There's no rationality involved, absolutely no logic, and I've always been bad at compartmentalising.

I've asked myself a question many times and I always end up with the same answer. This thought process, independent of the feeling process, is entirely dictated by logic and reason. It has nothing to do with following the heart because I have no idea what it says; it has even less to do with following the gut because it has chosen to remain silent ever since it told me, very plainly and accurately, what was waiting for me in the second week of January this year. And the occasions when I thought I had a gut feeling about things turned out to be wrong - utterly, heartbreakingly wrong. So don't fault me if I don't trust that gut thing very much anymore, because it's reached a stage where I have no idea what it means.

So it's entirely logical and rational, the conclusion I've reached. It's the same conclusion I reached four months ago. And yet, I find myself still rooted to the same spot, perhaps for different reasons, but what does that matter?

I don't think it's ever going to stop hurting. I think I will live out the rest of my life with a gash in that heart thing that won't ever heal. And it's for this precise reason that I have to remember: Nemo dat quod non habet. And Chloe said, Guard your heart with a vengeance. I'm more careful now, but it doesn't mean I stop wanting, even if my reasons are completely wrong.

I still wish sometimes that life had a do-over button. How easy it would be to erase your mistakes the same way words disappear from your laptop screen when you press the 'backspace' button, and how convenient it would be, too, to rewrite the ending, write in your happily ever after, by replacing the unsatisfactory deleted words with those that please you. A writer pays such meticulous attention to the most minute detail: Paragraphing, punctuation, whether a semi-colon conveys her message more effectively than a comma, how to get the best permutation of words that most clearly brings her idea across. How ironic, then, that the same meticulous attention isn't paid to her own personal life, that most of the time she overlooks things, doesn't think things through, blurts out nonsense that screws everything up.

There's always a new chapter to write, I suppose, but it doesn't quite modify the old one; it merely adds to it. One chapter of my life has been written and that much is obvious, and no, there is no Edit option. It's over, it's history, there is no turning back. But I don't see how that helps when I'm not happy at all with the writing, the paragraphing, the words I used.

One day, when I'm optimistic or hopeful again, I will pose this rejoinder to myself: Fuck the old chapter, write a new one, and make sure it's answerable to your own very high standards. And I suppose that is true - no, I know that is true. It's what the whole damn world has been telling me ever since the shit hit the fan, and it's only recently that I realised that they've been right all this time. The only absolute is that there is no absolute. Even marriage is doomed to failure, so it strikes me as rather hilarious now how I thought I was so sure.

I guess, if we were to accept that proposal, then nothing matters, does it? Which is what I have known since forever.

And I have officially lost the plot. I have no idea what I'm talking about anymore.

It's just sometimes coincidences are so coincidental that you can't help but rely on them, even if it's to your detriment. In turn you make representations that you don't quite mean to make which someone else relies to her detriment. So who gets the estoppel protection then?

Bleah. This is stupid. I really ought to shower and I can't believe I spent the whole bloody night reading three pathetic pages of Bridge on Personal Property Law. And I officially do not bloody understand the part on disposition of chattels. And I think it's ridiculous that they actually invented "disponor" and "disponee". And there I was, thinking "mortgagor" and "mortgagee" were stupid enough.

Welcome to the world of law where absolutely absurd nouns are invented completely abitrarily.

(PS. Just ignore this rubbish emo entry. I suspect it's just PMS. When I'm normal, I really don't care much about these things anymore.)

Tags: law, law school, neb, personal, philosophy

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