Historical Social Research

Chris Rojek: The Two Bodies of Achieved Celebrity[Abstract]

From Medieval to Tudor times, the doctrine of the King’s Two Bodies was fundamental in government and the reproduction of social order. The doctrine held that the body of the monarch is simultaneously mortal and immortal. In terms of the hegemony of the power regime, this was given by God. It has long been assumed that the rise of Liberal Plebiscitary Parliamentary Democracy put an end to Royal absolutism. This paper uses the political thought of Carl Schmitt and Ernst Hartwig Kantorowicz to examine if this assumption is valid. The paper argues that the doctrine of the King’s Two Bodies survives in greatly translated form. The highest achieved celebrities today have two bodies, the one (biological and incorrigible), the other (mediated and incorrigible). The paper uses data from the posthumous existence of the highest achieved celebrities to substantiate this proposition. In turn, this leads to the beginnings of an enquiry into what the role of achieved celebrity in Liberal Plebiscitary Parliamentary Democracy, i.e., a society based on the principle of homogeneous equality, might be.

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