The Law Is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons

By Colin Dayan | Go to book overview

1
HOLY DOGS, HECUBA’S BARK

I knew a person in Christ above fourteen years ago,
(whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out
of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such
an one caught up to the third heaven.

—St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:2


A MOST UNNATURAL BARGAIN

As regards specters or ghosts, I have hitherto heard
attributed to them no intelligible property: they seem
like phantoms, which no one can understand.

—Spinoza to Hugo Boxel, 1674

IN 1989 HELEN ACKLEY SOLD HER FIVE-THOUSAND-SQUARE-FOOT, eighteen-room Victorian house on the Hudson River in Nyack, New York, to a young couple, Jeffrey and Patrice Stambovsky. After making a down payment of $32,500 for the house, they learned that it was haunted. Although Jeffrey did not believe in ghosts and did not mind knowing that the house was thus occupied, his wife refused to live there. Ackley had enjoyed a good relationship with the ghosts for over twenty years, and had become accustomed to steps on the stairs, doors slamming, beds shaking, and chandeliers moving back and forth. She assured the couple that they had nothing to fear. The spirits were friendly

-1-

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The Law Is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Holy Dogs, Hecuba’s Bark 1
  • 2 - Civil Death 39
  • 3 - Punishing the Residue 71
  • 4 - Taxonomies 113
  • 5 - A Legal Ethnography 138
  • 6 - Who Gets to Be Wanton? 177
  • 7 - Skin of the Dog 209
  • Acknowledgments 253
  • Notes 259
  • Bibliography 303
  • Index 325
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