In Keynote 1 for the Mimetic Turn, Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen reloads Plato’s critique of mimesis for the digital age by restaging the following dialogue:
Socrates : Of the many excellences which I perceive in the order of our state, there is none which upon reflection pleases me better than the rule about Internet.
Glaucon : To what do you refer ?
Socrates : To our refusal to admit the memetic kind of media, for it certainly ought not to be received … Speaking in confidence, for you will not denounce me to Facebook and the rest of the memetic networks, all memes are made to contaminate the thinking (dianoia) of the hearers, unless as an antidote (pharmakon) they possess the knowledge of the true nature of the originals.
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.
Part of a panel on Jane Bennett’s Influx & Efflux (2020) organized at Johns Hopkins University, ERC grantee Nidesh Lawtoo establishes a bridge between new materialism and mimetic theory. He argues that the influences internal to Bennett’s account of a porous self, tap into the unconscious powers of mimesis to induce sympathy towards (non)human others, along contagious lines central to the mimetic turn as well.
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 chapter for The Palgrave Handbook of Mimetic Theory and Religion (eds. James Alison, Wolfgang Palaver), titled “The Classical World: Sacrifice, Religion, Philosophy,” Nidesh Lawtoo takes the work of René Girard, read with Friedrich Nietzsche, Jane Harrison and other philologists, as a starting point to offer a genealogy of the role sacrifice plays in the classical period. The patho-logy of sacrificial violence, Lawtoo argues, both confirms and supplements mimetic theory. You can read the chapter here.