Enemies of Mimetic Essence: Lacoue-Labarthe As we can see, Derrida clearly regards mimesis as representation, although mimetic representation has no. Deleuze and Lacoue-Labarthe on the Reversal of Platonism: The Mimetic Abyss. David Lane. Among Friedrich Nietzsche’s many daring philosophical declara-. Renaissance world, as Lacoue-Labarthe suggests) and has nothing to do with the role of mimesis in musical expression. It concerns, rather, a question of.

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Mimesis in the Works of Girard and Derrida. Mimesis in the works of Derrida and Girard plays a decisive role. Both see mimesis as a fundamental force in the act of forming culture.

However, in the work of Girard mimesis is the force governing all human relationships and cultural life. Culture is formed by mimetic desire and thereby transformed into scapegoating.

Thus the scapegoat becomes a decisive factor in human development.

Scholarly work on mimesis means mostly seeing mimesis as something representational. Derrida and Girard, however, tend to use mimesis differently. They do not dismiss mimesis as representation, but they do emphasize two distinct traits in mimesis: Also, acts of imitation among some modern literary critics seem to be seen as something one can freely adopt and which differs from the original.

Instead of showing how fiction mainly is a representation of reality like Auerbachthey seem keen to uncover a desire lacooue-labarthe to mimesis which is interdividual, acquisitive and violent. It seems as though mimesis is lqcoue-labarthe by literary style and not vice versa. Derrida and the Deconstruction of Mimesis. When compared to Auerbach’s understanding of mimesis, however, Derrida and other deconstructionists have been more eager to analyse and interpret mimesis as a concept and phenomenon.

Auerbach never analyses the concept mimesis. Mimesis is clearly seen as a central concept in the process of deconstruction. According to deconstructionist theory, mimesis dissolves existing orders and hierarchies.

Plato Pursued: Mimesis, Decision, and the Subject – Fordham Scholarship

Mimesis can be seen as a tool in breaking down logocentric thinking. The floating nature of mimesis dissolves established structures engendered by binary classifications. They are critical of the belief in an inner wisdom, or inner revelation, which may be attained from outside the act of imitating. The privilege of the spoken word, as both origin and self-preserved truth, needs to be deconstructed, while mimesis actually prevents the unproblematic reference to the ideal, the essence.

Derrida wishes to deconstruct both the notion of the original story and the copy-version. Every imitation is a supplementsomething distinct from that which is imitated. Like Deleuze, Derrida sees the repetitive elements in writing, not as producing likeness, but as producing something different.

Derrida actually goes further in ‘The Double Session’. Mimesis is located as something unique in itself; mimesis with no before or after, no repetition, no imitation, no reality, no right or wrong similarity, no truth outside the mimetic.

Mimesis is something in itself with no reference outside itself, and should not be reduced to anything else.

The result of this desire for the uniqueness of mimesis is that it becomes indefinable. Mimesis is unique in the sense that it is autonomouseven if it is anything but uncontaminated. Girard pays little attention to non-representation, which also holds for mimesis. That mimesis is something different from all its traditional attributes, presents no problem in mimetic theory.

The problem arises when mimesis is seen devoid of its desiring nature. Derrida would probably hold that mimesis could exist without desire. For Girard this would mean imitation without any engendering, which again would mean no mimesis. There is, however, the case of non-rivalistic mimesis, but, seen against the whole of mimetic theory, the imitation of Christ is no different from mimetic desire in any way other than that the model differs.


The repetitive element in mimesis is self-evident in Girardian theory, but the distinction between direct copying and innovative imitation is seldom considered. The emphasis, from a normative context, is on what one is imitating.

Thus the emphasis lies on the model. Morality comes into play when the process of mimesis reaches a rivalistic stage. Every text stands in a mimetic relation to another text. For Derrida there is no first writing, only different imitations or repetitions mimesie previous texts.


This does not mean that there is copying without innovation; it means that writing is an intertextual game, without beginning and without end. Mimesis is a kind of productive force in the writing of texts, as every text is an imitation of previous texts. The productive force of mimesis can be seen as the way in which it multiplicates images, words, thoughts and actions without becoming tangible itself. The supplement also refers to originality; it could even be labelled as lacoue-labartue most original, and therefore the most liable for expulsion.

Every copy which is not oacoue-labarthe copying brings with it something supplemental. The supplement can, in certain expressions, be seen as the original. In this respect the original or originality will often stand in danger of being excluded from textual production-machines.

This is not only a phenomenon within the borders of writing and speech, it is also a sociological aspect of writing. This has become embarrassingly clear in the 20 th century, when great authors such as Proust, Joyce, Beckett, Hemingway, Golding and others, were not only initially rejected, but also, some of their best writings, even great masterpieces, were refused by publishing houses. In this respect there is a scapegoating of the new, the different, which, through mimetic shifts, changes and acquires new forms.

In the late 20 th century, continuing into the 21 st century, however, there seems to be a tendency to reject anything which smacks of imitation. Like Girard, Derrida is also sceptical about the notion of the autonomous original, the idea of the original as something not imitated.

In a way, Girard dissolves the question of originality and lacoue-lxbarthe by turning everything into mimesis. Derrida, who perhaps is more conservative especially as a venerator of the classics than is usually presented, is nonetheless eager to discover the radically new, focusing on science as being able to work on themes that are not even interdisciplinary.

When everything depends upon mimesis there can be no innovation outside imitation. Thus Derrida is preoccupied with originality.

Girard is preoccupied with origins. As we have seen, Girard has made mimesis an essence in his thought. Mimesis is originary, even, in my view, primary to violence, and the primal force in cultural evolution. Derrida has deliberately criticized Girard for this. By making mimesis mimezis essence, Girard betrays mimesis by making it a property, he claims.

This also goes for the act of defining mimesis: According to Derrida, every affirmative discourse on origins will reveal a Theology. This manner of thought, according to Derrida, makes both Girard and Plato ripe for deconstruction, as they both operate with a concept of revealed truth; Plato in claiming the Idea as truth, and Girard by discovering lacoue-labartge truth through mimesis.

In this respect mimetic theory is branded metaphysical and in need of having its own concept of mimesis deconstructed. Girard, on the other hand, regards mimetic origin as a starting point of a generative theory, which would, mimesiw a drive, be limited, unable to locate the dynamics of interpersonal relationships.

Girard may have betrayed the essence of mimesis by fixing it lzcoue-labarthe, but has, nonetheless, been able to make use of it.

Derrida has no starting point, no primary force whatsoever, and it seems as though his working aim is merely to find tensions, contradictions, and heterogeneity, while Girard works within the realm of synthesis, bringing together central themes such as mimesis, scapegoating and violence into one theory. On the other hand, there is enormous scope within the deconstructionist project for destructing the philosophic and theological tradition, even for attempting to deconstruct the metaphysics of the humanistic sciences as mimeis whole.


This aim could be described as maximalistic. While Girard concentrates on the exclusion of the victim, Derrida concentrates on the exclusion lacoue-laarthe writing. There is also something supplemental about imitation, as it is different from the thing that is imitated.

In this respect mimesis is supplemental in nature. And when we consider mimesis in art, there is always an element of exclusion of the supplement, of that which is different and lacks a clear reference to previous art. Both Girard and Derrida focus on what is excluded: But here there seems to be a certain ideological difference: Girard is more concerned about whether imitation meaning what one imitates is substantial and true, than about whether it is a copy or not.

He does not care much about the degree of copying or innovation, so long as it reveals something which is true, realistic and commonsensical. But the desire to expel seems to mimesiz to something beyond writing. Referring to lacouf-labarthe Victim. The question surrounding the authenticity of mimesis must, however, be seen in relation to the victim.

According to Girard, Western thought has tried to efface the trace of the founding violence. Derrida has, according to Girard, substituted the trace for being, in the Heideggerian sense.

In Athens human scapegoats were regularly identified and ritually sacrificed as a practical measure to preserve civil order. He is the victim in the desire to create a heterogenous society. The character of the pharmakos has been compared to the scapegoat.

The evil and the lacour-labarthe, the lacoue–labarthe of the evil, mimesiis exclusion out of the body and out of the city …. They were then killed in order to purify the city.

Derrida, in exactly the same way as Girard, sees these sacrificial oacoue-labarthe to purify and restore the city.

In his analysis of Greek scapegoating, Derrida mentions that Socrates, whom Plato explicitly designates as a pharmakos, was also made a scapegoat. And the imitative side of writing materializes in the fact that Plato began writing after the death of Lwcoue-labarthe, imitating and representing his thoughts. In this respect writing is a consequence of violence, becoming a trace back to the sacred violence. Derrida seems more focused on the supplements arising from expulsion, and on the suspension of the binary lacoue-labarghe which the pharmakos brings.

In this respect Derrida focuses on the non-sacrificial effects, on the culture arising after expulsion. Both Girard and Derrida criticize the belief in an inner, revealed truth outside any representation. Derrida, in mmiesis tradition of Heidegger, claims that truth as a metaphysical referent is something outside of the philosophical realm. Girard belongs to the thinkers who believe that there are qualitative truths to be found, and it does not matter if these are found through dismissing or neglecting the boundaries between philosophy, anthropology, literature and theology.

Derrida does not directly dismiss this truth Mimesis resembles truth insofar as truth never resembles itselfbut has no such aim in his philosophy, even if deconstruction has, despite so many claims of irrationality, lacoue-labaryhe aim of furthering rationality by deconstructing it within traditional rationality a rationality which is not rational.