This past weekend, Duke Law School hosted a fabulous conference on Curtis Bradley's and Mitu Gulati's new article on Opt Out in Customary International Law (it's called "Withdrawing from International Custom"). Alas, the one big snow storm of the year hit the triangle on Friday night. Though at least one person came from the UK, I was stuck eight miles away at my house in Chapel Hill. I spent the day listening via telephone and watching the blooms on my cherry tree, which thought spring had arrived, freeze. I suppose this post might just as well be titled, "Snowbound."
Because I love antebellum landscape art, I even have a couple of pictures to illustrate these principles. To illustrate the earlier, opt-out principle, think about Thomas Cole's series of five paintings, Course of Empire. Cole depicts the same physical spot on the landscape over several millenia -- from a state of nature, to the pastoral state, consummation of civilization, then decline, and desolation. Yeah--click on them all. Quite a story of human events on canvas, eh? Well, that's the image you use when you think civilizations advance and decline, in cycles. (Want to know more about this? Here issome more on the idea of progress in landscape art and in property law in antebellum America.)
But, when you're thinking it's one upward climb -- onward and upward forever, well, then you have a very different landscape art. So by the early 1860s (remember, the Civil War began in 1861) we had paintings like Emanuel Leutze, "Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (Westward Ho!)" (1861). (See illustration at right). Or, even better yet, Andrew Melrose's "Westward the Star of Empire Takes Its Way" (1867) (see below right). How's that train headlight to let you know that Progress is on its way?