Adieu, Jean-Luc Nancy

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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.

On Empathy & Mimesis (Stuk, Leuven 21 June)

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”).

HOM Videos 6, Feminist Politics of Mimesis: Adriana Cavarero

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.

Mimetic Resonances

In this Alpine talk Nidesh Lawtoo outlines critical and theoretical resonances between sound theory and mimetic theory. From Heart of Darkness to the origins of music to the sound of the heartbeat, Lawtoo outlines the duplicity of mimetic resonances from the all-too-human vulnerability to (new) fascist leaders whose voice is hollow at the core to counter-movements of anti-fascist solidarity like BLM, while situating these mimetic resonances in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic–from an Alpine distance.

Storming the Capitol: The Predictable Efficacy of (Hyper)Mimesis

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. Versione intervista in italiano per il CdT (con Carlo Silini): L’Assalto al Campidoglio.For related events on the importance to counter (new) fascism see also, Settima Lettera on Freud, Fascism, & Myth (March-June 2021); New Fascism & the Mimetic Unconscious (KU Leuven, Marc 24 ) New Fascisms, New Resistances (U Beragmo, 22-23 April)