How could a mimetic crowd go so easily from a conspiracy theory to a (new) fascist insurrection? In this piece for TCC Nidesh Lawtoo argues that what is surprising is not that the crowd hit the U.S. Capitol like a wave, but that no one in power saw this announced wave coming. If it is still unclear how (hyper)mimesis goes from conspiracy theory to (new) fascist actions, find out more here.
conference, 20-22 May 2021, KU Leuven (Online)
Keynotes:Katherine Hayles (Duke University) & Kevin Warwick (Coventry University)
With the participation of Ivan Callus (U of Malta), Claire Colebrook (Penn State U), Vinciane Despret (ULB, ULiège), Francesca Ferrando (NYU), Stefan Herbrechter (Heidelberg University), Patricia Pisters (U of Amsterdam), Jean-Marie Schaeffer (EHESS), Stefan Lorenz Sorgner (John Cabot U)…
What is the link between mimetic contagion and viral contagion? Building on a diagnostic insight that called attention to the danger of “contemporary pandemics that, every year, threaten to contaminate an increasingly globalized, permeable, and precarious world,” and, already in 2016, warned that “the shadow of epidemics looms large on the horizon” (chapter on “The Cooperative Community: Surviving Epidemics in The Shadow-Line“), the HOM project continues the diagnostic in the context of COVID-19 in a series of interviews and posts.
Given the rapid global spread of coronavirus, it is increasingly essential to distinguish between viral contagion based on medical facts, and emotional reactions based on mimetic reflexes. In this radio interview, Nidesh Lawtoo cautions against mimetic affects, like panic, but also distinguishes between ideologically-driven forms of mimetic contagion and empirical viral contagion. If (new) fascist politicians spread lies about COVID-19, the latter should not be downplayed for economic reasons. It should rather lead citizens to listen to scientists and become aware of (and restrain) unconscious mimetic reflexes and habits (e.g., large assemblages, shaking hands etc.). Full radio interview (in Italian) with RSI, Rete 1 here ; written interview for LaRegione here.
Wojciech Kaftanski follows up on the diagnostic with a piece on mimetic contagion and COVID-19 for ABC that shows “how deeply we influence one another: from fights over toilet paper to declarations of war.” Article available here. Nidesh continues with a genealogy of mimesis–via Plato, Nietzsche and The Matrix–to face viral contagion in the Anthropocene in a piece for Fatamorgana. And in an interview for MSU Press’s Podcast, Nidesh discusses his new book (New) Fascism: Contagion, Comunity, Myth (MSU P 2019)in the context of the current pandemic crisis. You can listen to the podcast here.
Daniel Villegas Velez takes a forthcoming HOM interview with Jean-Luc Nancy as a starting point to reflect on the “Allegories of Contagion” that take COVID-19 as a “magnifying mirror” to reflect on (new) fascism. And in Lawtoo’s “The Mimetic Virus“ all these threads are woven together to “rethinking mimesis in the age of COVID-19” in The Contemporary Condition.
In this interview for the Minnesota Review, J. Hillis Miller and Nidesh Lawtoo take one of the most influential concepts in Western aesthetics, mimēsis, as an Ariadne’s thread to retrace the major turns in Miller’s career and, by extension, to promote a re-turn of mimesis in literary theory and criticism. More here.
Part of a panel on Jane Bennett’s Influx & Efflux (2020) organized at Johns Hopkins University, ERC grantee Nidesh Lawtoo establishes a bridge between new materialism and mimetic theory. He argues that the influences internal to Bennett’s account of a porous self, tap into the unconscious powers of mimesis to induce sympathy towards (non)human others, along contagious lines central to the mimetic turn as well.
In this opening session of the Homo Mimeticus Seminar (KU Leuven), PI Nidesh Lawtoo introduces some of the main concepts constitutive of the mimetic turn, or re-turn of mimesis in critical theory, including mimetic pathos, pathos of distance, mimetic patho(-)logies, and their relevance for the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
As part of the Homo Mimeticus Seminar (KU Leuven), Postdoctoral researcher Carole Guesse (@CrlGss) provides a short introduction to the posthuman and its discourses: transhumanism and posthumanism. She then explores the various ways in which the posthuman – in both theory and (science) fiction – can be characterized as mimetic.
Tune in on Thursday, October 8, at 8pm for the premiere of the latest episode of HOM Videos, Jean-Luc Nancy: Philosophy and Mimesis. Topics discussed include the relation between philosophy and literature, myth, politics and community. Sign up via this link:
Join us for the first session of the HOM Seminar on Friday, October 2, 4pm, Room N, Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven. Presentations by Nidesh Lawtoo on the “mimetic turn”, new HOM-team member Carole Guesse on “posthuman mimesis,” and discussion of an interview with J. Hillis Miller, supplemented by a screening of Jean-Luc Nancy. More details here: https://hiw.kuleuven.be/hua/events/hom-seminar
Please register by sending an email to: email@example.com
In this video presentation for the 2020 Joseph Conrad Society (UK) Annual Meeting shot on the Furka Pass (Swiss Alps), ERC grantee Nidesh Lawtoo introduces the relevance of Conrad’s mimetic turn to face contemporary catastrophes like (new) fascist politics, viral pandemics, and climate change in the Anthropocene. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321…
Rather than considering the banality of evil as symptomatic of Eichmann’s “inability to think,” the essay foregrounds the affective, contagious, and, in this sense, mimetic tendencies at play in Eichmann’s personality (from Latin, persona, theatrical mask). This move is instrumental to articulate a middle path between Arendt’s theoretical diagnostic of Eichmann as “terrifyingly normal” and Bettina Stangneth’s recent historical account of Eichmann as a “fanatical National Socialist.” My wager is that the ancient problematic of mimēsis (from Greek, mimos, mime) casts a new and original light on the psychic foundations of a type of evil that is as relevant to understand the psychology of fascism in the past century as its rising shadow in the present century. Article also available here