preface
Janus is the ancient Roman two- faced god—the god of the Origin who
can also gaze at the End. According to Ovid, who put him on stage in the
first book of the Fasti,1 Janus symbolizes the doubleness of things, the
passage between inside and outside, the transmutation and determina-
tion of the elements emerging from primordial chaos (and “chaos” was,
in fact, Janus’s old name). It doesn’t seem out of place to suggest an
analogy between the doubled gaze of the mythical god and the political
gaze of Carl Schmitt. The German jurist had the same ambivalent capac-
ity to see the two faces of the “political,” the same ability to grasp the
passage from formlessness to form, from chaos to order, from war to
peace, as well as their fatal reversibility, which is to say, the passage from
form to crisis. Schmitt’s theory—a “vision” that was, in his case, also an
“experience”—was designed to fit with the double face of the Modern
itself. It can face the simultaneous disconnection and co- implication
between Idea and contingency that generates and shoots through the
Modern; moreover, it can face both the epochal compulsion for order
and the impossibility of that order. The wisdom of this twofold gaze
allowed Schmitt to see in modern politics both God and the absence of
God; it allowed him to think politics as that energy which at once es-
tablishes boundaries and transgresses them, which generates not only
revolutions but also constitutions, which produces not only decisions
but also forms.
Schmitt shared with Janus not only a two- faced gaze but also a two-
faced nature: Schmitt was himself double, both in his historical praxis
and in his theoretical proposals, suspended between deconstruction
and construction, between respect for tradition and boldness. In his
continuous oscillation between predictability and unexpected blows,
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