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.
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.
The HOM project is pleased to announce that Daniel Villegas Velez’s book, Mimetologies is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.
Mimetologies examines the critical aesthetic concept of mimesis in the history of musical aesthetics. Two main interpretations of mimesis or, as this book calls them, mimetologies dominate aesthetic theory. On the one hand, mimesis is an aesthetic problem rooted in the distinction between copies and originals, as well as the creation of fictional worlds. On the other hand, mimesis involves a complex of neuro-psychological tendencies to copy or imitate others that characterizes the human as Homo mimeticus and which grounds the genesis of subjects and communities. These two mimetologies—one emphasizing vision and authenticity, the other affective contagion and becoming—run largely separate and music appears to have no place in either. Yet, as this book demonstrates, music is at the origin of both.
Mimetologies continues an interrogation of mimesis initiated by Jacques Derrida and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe (1976) and genealogical examinations of the role of mimetic behavior in the formation of subjectivity to highlight music’s function in mobilizing affective performance to shape communities. Adopting a long-term historical perspective that extends from ancient Greece through seventeenth-century Italy, eighteenth-century France, to early nineteenth-century Germany—with an ear to their resonances in Colonial Latin America—Mimetologies shows that mimesis has been a constant undercurrent in the history of modern music, especially at the moments when music and mimesis seemed most distant from one another. By revealing the role of mimetic musical performance between aesthetics and politics—mimesis as representation and mimesis as contagion—Mimetologies reintegrates music into the history of aesthetics, while providing new conceptual tools to critically think the role of music in Western society.
In the fifth episode of HOM Videos, Nidesh Lawtoo meets French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy (U of Strasbourg) to discuss the ancient quarrel between philosophy and mimesis. Topics discussed include the relation between mimesis, myth, fascist politics, Lacoue-Labarthe, deconstruction and community.
In this second episode of HOM Videos, Nidesh interviews the literary critic and theorist J. Hillis Miller (Emeritus Professor, U of California at Irvine) on Deer Isle (Maine, USA, 2018) to discuss the relation between mimesis and literature, literary criticism/theory, deconstruction, reading in the digital age, new media, videogames, and contemporary politics. Trailer.
The HOM Project started a series of video interviews on the contemporary relevance of imitation (mimesis). Join us for the screening of “The Critic as Mime: J. Hillis Miller” Friday 24 May, 4 pm, Justus Lipsius room (08.16), Erasmushuis, Blijde-Inkomstraat 21, Leuven. You can see a trailer here.
This article reconsiders the power of myth in light of the rise of new fascist leaders who cast a shadow on the contemporary political scene. Nidesh Lawtoo looks back to Lacoue-Labarthe’s and Nancy’s, “The Nazi Myth,” to account for the affective power of myth that is currently being reloaded both in Europe and the US–an argument internal to a forthcoming book on (New) Fascism (2019). Article available here.
In this special issue of Modern Language Notes (ed. N. Lawtoo), contemporary figures like Jean-Luc Nancy, Paola Marrati, Jane Bennett and Alain Badiou, among others, rethink the relation between “poetics and politics” by drawing on Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe’s mimetic account of the current becoming fictional of the political. You can read the introduction here.
The HOM Project is happy to announce a workshop with Jean-Luc Nancy on December 7, 2018. The goal of the workshop is to revisit an untimely essay, titled Le mythe nazi (1981; written with Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe), in light of the recent return of neo-fascist leaders–both in Europe and in the US–who are currently turning the political into a fiction. Registration: https://hiw.kuleuven.be/hua/events/agenda/homworkshop-nancy