The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

November 4, 2016

November 3, 2015

Rene Girard, according to one blurb, "... held the position of Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French Language, Literature, and Civilization at Stanford University until his retirement in 1995. He is the cofounder of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion, which meets annually to discuss issues in mimetic theory, scapegoating, violence, and religion, and his books include Violence and the Sacred, Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, and A Theatre of Envy. In 2005, Girard was elected to L'Academie francaise, the highest tribute for a French intellectual."

The French philosopher Rene Girard, (November 4, 2015 to December 25, 1923) saw the idea of mimesis as a trinary structure which casts light on the fields of human knowledge. In his telling, mimesis is present when one person desires something and another imitates that desire, so there are then two (at a minimum) desiring something. The point is not on the object desired, but the fact when something is wanted, that desire is imitated by another person. Mimesis is the term used because the mechanism involves a person imitating another person, rather than two separate incidents unrelated though both people want the same thing. 

Mimesis is the third angle, not the object declared desirable. This mechanism, a preconscious function of man, illuminates how suddenly one person can become a scapegoat, whom many desire to destroy, regardless of how blameworthy the person in question. Thus Girard, looking at the crucifixion through this lens, decides the death of Jesus is not really a sacrifice, since, the person himself did not chose it, and those carrying it through were guided not by a subject- object relation, but the mimetic effect of people imitating each other. Later Girard rethought his rejection of the age old idea of the sacrifice of Christ, saying his motive for this unexpected conclusion included the desire to twist the aging lion's tail, lion here meaning the Catholic Church.

This last example of mimesis came from Christianity, Truth, and Weakening Faith: A Dialogue (2010) which cites Gianni Vattimo, and Rene Girard as the authors.

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