The Devil, the Master-Criminal, and the Re-enchantment of the World (On The Usual Suspects)

Philosophy and Literature 36 (1):37-57 (2012)
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What is so appealing about the figure of the master criminal? The answer lies in the kind of solution he provides to the problem of suffering. Rather than just accounting for affliction—as, for example, does Leibniz’s theodicy—such a figure enchants it, transforming mundane objects into actual or potential clues, everyday incidents into moves in a cosmic conflict, random misery into a purposeful pattern. The master criminal (the shadowy villain of _The Usual Suspects_, say) thus constitutes a secular replacement for the Devil, making possible a negative reenchantment of the world.

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Joshua Landy
Stanford University


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