In this OA article for Film-Philosophy Nidesh Lawtoo revisits the case of Woody Allen’s mockumentary Zelig (1983) via Nietzsche’s diagnostic of mimicry and Arendt’s analysis of the banality of eivl. It argues that the case of the “human chameleon” remains contemporary for both philosophical and political reasons for it reveals the centrality of mirroring reflexes in the rise of old and new fascisms.
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.
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:
In this new book, part of the ERC-funded HOM Project, Nidesh Lawtoo confronts the rise of (new) fascist leaders, both in Europe and the US, via a diagnostic of the contagious, communal and mythic powers mimetic leaders convoke to shape mass/public opinion.
Dr. Wojciech Kaftanski presents (New) Fascism and opens the conversation with the author on Friday 27 September, 3-4pm, Salons, Institute of Philosophy, Kardinaal Mercierplein 2, 3000 Leuven. Reception to follow.
Fascism tends to be relegated to a dark chapter of European history, but what if new forms of fascism are currently returning to the forefront of the political scene? In (New) Fascism: Contagion, Community, Myth (August 1, 2019) Nidesh Lawtoo diagnoses the case of Trump to illustrate the (un)timeliness of Nietzsche’s claim that, one day, “‘actors,’ all kinds of actors, will be the real masters.” Preview and order here.
“The book is a testament to the power of reasoning to unmask and resist cruel forms of affective contagion, even as it opens the door to the project of composing generous and laudable admixtures of pathos and logos. A bracing and elegant book very much worth reading.”
—JANE BENNETT, Professor, Department of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University, and author of Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things
In this interview with EU Research, Nidesh Lawtoo explains the main aspects of the HOM project by outlining, in broad and accessible strokes, the good and bad effects of unconscious mimesis investigated by the HOM team in areas as diverse as philosophy, the arts, and politics. He argues that the power of mimesis to transform subjectivity is “not only a scholarly problem, but a human, all too human problem.” Full interview available 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.
Why is mimesis a political problem? In this first of a series of interviews for the ERC project Homo Mimeticus, Nidesh Lawtoo meets political theorist William E. Connolly (Johns Hopkins University) in Boston (APSA 2018) to talk about the political dangers of affective contagion, mimetic identification and new fascism central to his latest book, Aspirational Fascism (2017). Check out the full interview & subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive updates:
The HOM Project is pleased to announce a series of video interviews on the contemporary relevance of mimesis. In ep. 1, PI Nidesh Lawtoo meets political theorist William E. Connolly to talk about the dangers of mimetic contagion in the age of Aspirational Fascism. Check out the trailer: