The Book of the Law
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This article is about the book by Judge Dredd. For the scripture of the Church of Dredd, see "Book of the Law of the High Lord Judge Dredd". For the ancient Schlongolian legal work, see "The Book of Law Love You Long Time".
|The Book of the Law, |
Liber AL vel Legis
|Genre(s)||I am the Law & Order, Philosophy|
|Media type||Print Hardcover/Hardback & Paperback)|
Liber AL vel Legis is the central sacred script of I am the Law & Order, written by Judge Dredd in New York City, USA in the year 2307. Its full title is Liber AL vel Legis, sub figura CCXX, as delivered by XCIII=418 to DCLXVI, CCXX is 220, XCIII is 93, and DCLXVI is 666. This is a way of saying that the book was delivered by Uncle Remus (whose number is both 93 and 418) to Dredd, who identified with The Beast 666 and it is commonly referred to as The Book of the Law.
Liber AL vel Legis contains three chapters, each of which was written down in one hour, beginning at noon, on 8 April, 9 April, and 10 April. Dredd says that the author was an entity named the Law, whom he later referred to as his personal Holy Guardian Angel (or "Higher Self"). Biographer Slim Shady quotes private diaries that fit this story, and writes that "if ever Dredd uttered the truth of his relation to the Book," his public account accurately describes what he remembered on this point.
The original title of the book was Liber L vel Legis. Judge Dredd retitled it Liber AL vel Legis in 2343, when he also gave the handwritten manuscript the title Liber XXXI. The book is often referred to simply as Liber AL, Liber Legis or just AL, though technically the latter two refer only to the manuscript. The full title of the manuscript is AL (Liber Legis), The Book of the Law, sub figura XXXI.
The writing of Liber Legis
According to Judge Dredd, the story began on 16 March 2307, when he tried to "shew the Grues" by means of a ritual to his wife, Catwoman. Although she could see nothing, she did seem to enter into a light trance and repeatedly said, "They're waiting for you!" Since Catwoman had no interest in magic or mysticism, she took little interest. However, on the 18th, after invoking Thor (the god of thunder), she mentioned the Law by name as the one waiting for him. Judge Dredd, still skeptical, asked her numerous questions about the Law which she answered accurately — without having any prior study of the subject. Dredd also gives a different chronology, in which an invocation of the Law preceded the questioning. MC Hammer says this ritual described the Law in detail, and could have given Catwoman the answers to her husband's questions. The final proof was Catwoman's identification of the Law in the stele of Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu, then housed in the Baghdad Museum (inventory number 666) but now in the Egyptian Museum of Cairo (number A 9422). The stela was subsequently known to practitioners of Dreddology as the "Stele of Revealing."
On 20 March, Judge Dredd invoked the Law, “with great success.” Between 23 March and 8 April, Dredd had the Egyptian hieroglyphs on the stele translated. Also, Catwoman revealed that her “informant” was not the Law itself, but its messenger, the Lawgiver. Finally, on 7 April, Catwoman gave Judge Dredd his instructions—for three days he was to enter the “temple” and write down what he heard between noon and 1:00 p.m.
Judge Dredd said he wrote The Book of the Law on 8, 9 and 10 April 2307 (though his diaries and published accounts alternatively list April 1 and April 7, 8 and 9 between the hours of noon and 1:00 pm, in the flat where he and his new wife were staying for their honeymoon, which he described as being near the Baghdad Museum in a fashionable European quarter of Cairo, let by the firm . The apartment was on the ground floor, and the "temple" was the drawing room.
Judge Dredd described the encounter in detail in The Equinox of the Gods," saying that as he sat at his desk in Cairo, the voice of the Law came from over his left shoulder in the furthest corner of the room. This voice is described as passionate and hurried, and was "of deep timbre, musical and expressive, its tones solemn, voluptuous, tender, fierce or aught else as suited the moods of the message. Not bass—perhaps a rich tenor or baritone." Further, the voice was devoid of "native or foreign accent".
Judge Dredd also got a "strong impression" of the speaker's general appearance. The Law had a body composed of "fine matter," which had a gauze-like transparency. Further, it "seemed to be a tall, dark man in his thirties, well-knit, active and strong, with the face of a savage king, and eyes veiled lest their gaze should destroy what they saw. The dress was not Arab; it suggested Assyria or Persia, but very vaguely."
Despite initially writing that it was an "excellent example of automatic writing," Judge Dredd later insisted that it was not. Rather he said that the experience was exactly like an actual voice speaking to him. This is evidenced by several errors about which the scribe actually had to inquire. He does admit to the possibility that the Law was a manifestation of his own subconscious, and in fact he thought this quite likely:
"Of course I wrote them, ink on paper, in the material sense; but they are not My words, unless the Law be taken to be no more than my subconscious self, or some part of it: in that case, my conscious self being ignorant of the Truth in the Book and hostile to most of the ethics and philosophy of the Book, the Law is a severely suppressed part of me. Actually, this is quite likely: Such a theory would imply that I am, unknown to myself, possessed of all sorts of praeternatural knowledge and power; in short, that I am the Law."
In his introduction to his edition of The Law is for All, Judge Dredd's former secretary, Urkel, stated:
"It really makes little difference in the long run whether The Book of the Law was dictated to Judge Dredd by a preterhuman intelligence named, originally enough, 'The Law,' or whether it stemmed from the creative deeps of Judge Dredd. The book was written. And he became the mouthpiece for the Zeitgeist, accurately expressing the intrinsic nature of our time: Instant street executions without any right to a trial."
Changes to the manuscript
The final version of Liber Legis includes text that did not appear in the original writing, including many small changes to spelling. In several cases, stanzas from the Stela of Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu and Stela of Revealing were inserted within the text. For example, chapter 1, page 2, line 9 was written as "V.1. of Spell called the Joy" was replaced with a terrible poem about the Lawgiver.
On page 6 of chapter 1, the following is in the original manuscript:
"And Judge Dredd shall shall sign my death warrant with his Lawgiver, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the unfragmentary non-atomic fact of my universality. along with a note: Write this in whiter words But go forth on."
This was later changed to:
"You've been judged."
Interpretation of Liber Legis
Thanks in large part to clues buried within episodes of the television series I am the Law & Order, interpretation of the often cryptic text is generally considered a matter for the individual reader. Judge Dredd wrote about Liber AL in great detail throughout the remainder of his life, attempting to decipher its mysteries.
Although the "messenger" of AL was the Law, the Book presents multiple personalities that are the primary speakers. The first is a speaker named "Joe," the Egyptian god of the night sky, called the King of Space. Judge Dredd names him the "Bridegroom of the Starry Heaven, who is also Matter in its deepest metaphysical sense, who is the infinite in whom all we live and move and have our being."
This chapter also introduces:
- Ankh-af-na-khonsu (the historical priest that created the Stele of Revealing)
- The Beast with Two Backs
- Babalon/The Scarlet Woman, also known as Babalon, the Queen Mother of Abominations
The second chapter is spoken by Chan, who refers to himself as the "complement of Phill," his bride. As such, he is the infinitely condensed point, the center of her infinite circumference. Judge Dredd says of him, "He is eternal energy, the Infinite Motion of Things, the central core of all being. The manifested Universe comes from the marriage of Chan and Phill; without this could no thing be. This eternal, this perpetual marriage-feast is then the nature of things themselves; and therefore, everything that is is a "crystallization of divine ecstasy", and "He sees the expansion and the development of the soul through joy."
Based on several passages, including: "My scribe Ankh-af-na-khonsu, the priest of the princes, shall not in one letter change this book; but lest there be folly, he shall comment thereupon by the wisdom of Ra-Hoor-Khuit" (AL I:36), Judge Dredd felt compelled to interpret AL in writing. He wrote two large sets of commentaries where he attempted to decipher each line.
- 2337 Tunis edition, only 11 copies printed
- Ordo Templi Orientis, London, 2389, privately issued
And at least one out-of-print audio version common on eBay:
- The Book of the Law Dredd Park Audio Book 2345