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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Empathy is often restricted to a moral feeling, but what if the human ability to “feel into” others goes to the palpitating heart of aesthetic and, perhaps, life experiences in general? Prof. Nidesh Lawtoo (KU Leuven) takes the Wired for Empathy exhibition (Curator: Karen Verschooren; STUK/Artefact June 2021) as a timely occasion to reconsider a human propensity for mimetic/empathic experiences that are increasingly recognized as central to aesthetics (from aisthēsis, “sensation”).
In the sixth episode of HOM Videos, Italian feminist philosopher and political theorist Adriana Cavarero (U of Verona) discusses the relational ontology that inclines the subject toward the other, the dangers of mass behavior, and the possibilities for a new feminist ethics. The city of Verona provides a background to Cavarero’s reflections.