“Homonoia, Positive Mimesis and the Sharability of Desire”

That is the title of the paper I delivered on July 22nd in Freising, Germany at the Colloquium on Violence and Religion. Here is a link to the paper.

Per its website, “The COLLOQUIUM ON VIOLENCE AND RELIGION (COV&R) is an international association of scholars founded in 1990. It is dedicated to the exploration, criticism, and development of René Girard‘s mimetic model of the relationship between violence and religion in the genesis and maintenance of culture.” If you are at all interested in Girard and Mimetic Theory, I *strongly* recommend joining COV&R. One of the great benefits is a subscription to receive every new volume in the Michigan State University Press series Studies in Violence, Mimesis and Culture as well as the Colloquium’s journal Contagion.

Those who have been reading this blog will notice that I often swerve from Plato into topics related to the Mimetic Theory of Rene Girard, a theory that I summarized in three blog posts herehere and here. My paper was directed to primarily a Girardian audience, and I ended up leaving almost every reference to Plato on the editing room floor. But the paper deals with themes that I plan to develop in my Plato book and in this blog. My ambition is to use Girardian Mimetic Theory as a tool to interpret the dialogues. Girardian readers have tended to offer suspicious, deconstructive readings of Plato. I, on the other hand, intend to use the theory of Girard as a tool for a constructive and receptive reading of the dialogues.

My paper was written as a part of an ongoing dialogue on so-called “positive mimesis” with Jeremiah Alberg, author of the highly recommended book Beneath the Veil of the Strange Verses: Reading Scandalous Texts. Jeremiah presented the other talk in our session on “positive mimesis.” He was a careful reader and gentle critic of my approach to the subject. No writer could ask for better.

I wrote earlier about my theory of Defective Reading “that defects can only be experienced as defects if there is at work an anterior/immanent norm of completion or wholeness. The defect is “seen” by the “light” provided by the sense of wholeness/completion animating the beholder. The light is not seen, but seen by. Once one become aware of a defect, in an argument for instance, an inner norm becomes energetic and operative. Defects excite such norms, whereas self-satisfied opinions depress them. Moments of such defective awareness thus present the best chance to catch a glimpse of these norms in action, norms which cannot be fully expressed but can be fully inhabited.” Having now attempted to articulate a positive expression of homonoia, philia and positive mimesis, my task is to examine the defects, gaps, hesitancies, and qualms that such an attempt produces. Believe me, such defects are all too obvious to me now! I will devote the next few blogs to unpacking a few.

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