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Nathan Burkan Memorial Corporation Prize Paper ( I. Ayres, J. Balkin, T. Meares) (best paper(s) in the field of copyright)


“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

Joan Didion wrote the above in 1979, the first of many lucid lines about the need for narrative as part of the human condition. And of course, why wouldn’t we? Narrative is what makes order possible, and without some form of order, life would be chaos, and hence, to many, unimaginable, undesirable, impossible. Didion was a writer, but writers, like lawyers, rely on narrative to order their universe, to inject sense and stability into an otherwise unstable world. Surprisingly, both narrative and law have much to do with a third form of ordering: architecture. The architect Peter Eisenman had written that we “assume the metaphysics of architecture…to have the status of natural law.” And, in that sense, perhaps architecture, more so than law and literature, reassures us that the world is not blighted with relativity or arbitrariness, but instead the real, for “it is the nature of architecture, unlike any other discipline, to establish center, to manifest presence, to be the agent of reality…. Architecture, because it is bricks and mortar, holds out the promise of reality, authenticity and genuine truth in a surreal world where truth is a managed item developed by committees, produced by writers and sold by media spokesmen.”

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