Nietzsche on Mimetic Metamorphoses


For Nietzsche philosophy was an embodied activity that should lead to a metamorphosis of the spirit. In Part 1 of this talk, shot in Sils Maria, Switzerland, Nidesh Lawtoo situates Nietzsche’s “Three Metamorphoses of the Spirit” that open Thus Spoke Zarathustra against the Alpine summits and paths that inspired Nietzsche’s meditations in the first place. In the process, mimesis turns out to be central for Nietzsche’s reevaluation of morality, subjectivity, as well as to concepts such as the “overman” and the “eternal return of the same.”

Mimetic Inclinations and the Limits of the Enlightened Subject (Willow Verkerk)

In this talk GM member Willow Verkerk proposes a mimetic return to the Kantian subject through the dissonant figure of the Marquis de Sade’s Juliette. It brings together Simone de Beauvoir’s reading of Sade and Adriana Cavarero’s criticism of Kant to show that Juliette’s sadism is a problem distinctive to the denial of mimetic inclination. It argues that Juliette position, as one legacy of the enlightened subject, requires us to take seriously the material implications of a human ideal who is uninterested in love.

Recording available here:

Conrad and the Planetary (with William Connolly)

In this online dialogue on Conrad and the Planetary (Sept. 9. 4pm CET) HOM PI Nidesh Lawtoo and political theorist William Connolly join forces to reflect on the role of reading fiction in general and Conrad’s tales of catastrophe in particular, to face planetary challenges in the Anthropocene. More information here.

Kierkegaard, Mimesis, Modernity by Wojciech Kaftanski

In this dazzling new book, HOM associate member Wojciech Kaftanski offers a timely, important, and original contribution to the mimetic turn. He convincingly shows how Kierkegaard’s existential mimesis interlaces aesthetic and religious themes, including the familiar core concepts of imitation, repetition, and admiration as well as the newly arisen notions of affectivity, contagion, and crowd behavior. Available for pre-order at Routledge.

Adieu, Jean-Luc Nancy

HOM Workshop with Nancy, HIW KU Leuven 2018.

The French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy (1940-2021) sadly passed away on August 23, 2021, at the age of 81. One of the last giants of the structuralist and poststructuralist generation, Nancy authored over 200 books on subjects as diverse as German idealism and psychoanalysis, aesthetics and politics, subjectivity and community–devoting one of his last books to An All-Too -Human Virus (2021).

Nancy last visited the HIW in 2018 at the invitation of the HOM Project and gave a series of inspiring talks, seminars and interviews on mimesis, politics, and community. He will be much missed, but his philosophical traces remain to be followed up.

You can rewatch two video interviews at the HIW on HOM Videos, including one for VETO. More recently, in a written dialogue with Nidesh Lawtoo, Jean-Luc Nancy takes the recent return of attention to mimesis, the mimetic turn, as a starting point for considering the relationship between philosophy and literature. Reflecting on his lifelong philosophical project, Nancy stresses the centrality of mimesis at play in the linguistic turn, deconstruction, community, and sharing during and beyond Covid-19. Interview available here.

Lawrence contra (New) Fascism

Part of a conference on D. H. Lawrence and the Demos, HOM PI Nidesh Lawtoo situates Lawrence’s critique of crowd psychology, the mimetic unconscious, and fascist contagion in the political novels. The background of the Black Forest provides reflections on Lawrence’s attention to the attraction and repulsion generated by “blood consciousness” or “root consciousness.” In the process, Lawrence turns out to be a key ally to fight contra (new) fascism in general and contra what Foucault calls the “fascism in us all.” Full article here.

Cyborg Experiments (Kevin Warwick)

Part of the ERC-funded project Homo Mimeticus, the Posthuman Mimesis conference (KU Leuven, May 2021) promoted a mimetic turn in posthuman studies. In the first keynote Lecture, Prof. Kevin Warwick (U of Coventry) argued that our future will be as cyborgs – part human, part technology. Kevin’s own experiments will be used to explain how implant and electrode technology can be employed to create cyborgs: biological brains for robots, to enable human enhancement and to diminish the effects of neural illnesses. In all cases, the end result is to increase the abilities of the recipients.

Posthuman Mimesis: Introduction

In this welcome to the Posthuman Mimesis Conference part of the ERC-funded HOM Project (KU Leuven), Nidesh Lawtoo and Carole Guesse argue about the importance of bridging the concept of “mimesis” with the concept of the “posthuman” in view of promoting a mimetic turn in posthuman studies, which, as this conference shows, is already underway. More information here.

Survival as Mimesis (Katherine Hayles)

In her keynote address for the Posthuman Mimesis conference, part of the ERC-funded HOM project, Katherine Hayles relies on her double training in biology and literary theory to promote a mimetic turn in posthuman studies. With roots in Greek classical drama and development in literary theory, mimesis is often regarded as primarily a discursive technique. Recently, however, Hayles argues that its applications in embodied practices have undergone exponential expansion in an unexpected domain: microbial resistance to viruses.

HOM Theory: Mimetic Patho(-)logies in the Age of Covid-19 (N. Lawtoo / LMU)

In this public lecture for the LMU Doctoral Program on Mimesis Final Conference, Nidesh Lawtoo (KU Leuven) articulates the relevance of HOM Theory to account for the mimetic patho(-)logies in the Age of Covid-19: from affective contagion to viral contagion, conspiracy theories to therapeutic imitations, Lawtoo argues that rethinking mimesis beyond representation is central to account for the patho(-)logies of contagion in periods of pandemic crisis.