The essence of capitalism is, as Marx recognized, its dynamism, its capacity and need for constant change. Money and commodities constantly metamorphose into each other, and with them, whole societies are in flux. In this sense it’s important that Melville’s book about money is also a “masquerade,” an eternal shift between costumes. What the book does not include is what the character might look like without a costume. His is a constant shift between masks. Transaction complete, he takes on another form. In this sense, the confidence-man is a bit like money. The promise of money isn’t what it is, but what it can appear as—anything. Through the circulation of commodities a sum of money can become so many things that it wouldn't make sense to speak of an essence. Yet it requires the illusion of a singular, fixed form in order to make its transformations.
Though there is a prejudice against inconsistent characters in books, yet the prejudice bears the other way, when what seemed at first their consistency, afterwards, by the skill of the writer, turns out to be their good keeping. The great masters excel in nothing so much as in this very particular. They challenge astonishment at the tangled web of some character, and then raise admiration still greater at their satisfactory unraveling of it.
Yet the world of the ship is also a land of gab. Conversations and wheeling and dealing break out constantly. There’s a kind of aspirational sociability to life among strangers. It’s always possible that you’re walking into a den of thieves, but it’s more likely that most people are basically decent. If we took a position of total mistrust, we’d all wind up staying in our rooms the whole time to avoid getting fleeced or stabbed. There has to be some baseline level of confidence for exchange to occur, or even for people to just get along and pick up a story or two. Melville’s character hits people where they’re most vulnerable: by trying to act decently, by trying to follow humane norms of behavior, they end up suckers. A minister, for instance, denounces the embittered fellow who says a cripple is an imposter in blackface and gives the beggar a coin (rather than throwing it in his mouth, the cruel sport of the other guests). For his trouble he is rewarded with a visit from a man in gray, who praises him and says, “Since you are of this truly charitable nature, you will not turn away an appeal in behalf of the Seminole Widow and Orphan Asylum?” But the cynics don’t fare any better: a stingy miser buys some herbal concoction in the hope that it will soothe his pain, and a misanthrope who’d rather have machines than boys work his farm agrees to take on a lad from another smooth operator’s Philosophical Intelligence Office, a kind of antebellum temp agency. The confidence-man worms his way into the pockets of trusting and suspicious passengers alike.
Melville’s last novel was met mostly with ignorance. Perhaps it was Melville’s form and style, summed by his own words, “There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.” Though more true of Moby Dick than The Confidence Man, I suspect readers still didn’t quite know what to make of a novel that, despite being orderly by comparison, was nearly three-quarters dialog; without a discerna ...more
Gary Zeidwig doesn’t think so, at least not all the time. Zeidwig, an award-winning lawyer, reveals that there are some cases where an individual can move forward pro se, (for oneself) that is, advocating without an attorney and defending or fighting for their rights on their own behalf, and that it’s not only acceptable but relatively safe to do so.
Still others, like Self-Represented Litigation Network founder Richard Zorza, emphasize simplification of legal processes, including changing or eliminating the procedural and evidentiary rules that make the process so difficult. For example, the Tennessee Supreme Court has approved plain-language forms and instructions, written at a fifth- to eighth-grade reading level, for use in uncontested divorces between parties with minor children.
23Lorelei Laird, “Judges Reflect on Dealing with Difficult Pro Se Litigants,” ABA Journal, July 31, 2015 [LINK]; Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, “Survey of Arkansas Circuit Court Judges Regarding Self-Represented [Pro Se] Litigants” (Little Rock: Little Rock Access to Justice Commission, 2008) [LINK]; and Allen Baddour, “Civil Pro Se Litigants,” October 2010 [LINK].
There are a number of restrictions courts impose on pro se litigation. They include instances in which individuals are unduly disruptive, clearly lacking in knowledge, or have engaged in improper or abusive practices. There is a growing tendency, although occasionally controversial, for courts to proscribe litigation by individuals who repeatedly engage in abusive tactics while litigating pro se. The practice of self-representation or pro se litigation can be either a boon or a bane to litigants.
A longstanding and widely practiced rule prohibits corporations from being represented by non-attorneys, consistent with the existence of a corporation as a "person" separate and distinct from its shareholders, officers and employees. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that a "nonlawyer may not sign and file a notice of appeal on behalf of a corporation. Requiring a lawyer to represent a corporation in filing the notice does not violate the guarantee that any suitor may prosecute or defend a suit personally. A corporation is not a natural person and does not fall within the term "any suitor."