Chatting With René Girard

Costica Bradatan at Commonweal:

The interviewers often push Girard to explain how his theory applies to real life, and he is happy to oblige. The theory’s journey into the world is a great story in its own right. No sooner did his argument reach a certain “elegance” than Girard started to realize its growing applicability: “You suddenly see that there is a single explanation for a thousand different phenomena.” He first formulated his theory in a book of literary history, then went on to apply it to the study of mythology and religion, then to politics and international relations, then to society and economy, fashion and eating disorders, and whatnot. Just open a newspaper and pick something, anything, at random. Even the stock market? Especially the stock market, Girard would respond. That’s “the most mimetic institution” of all—indeed, a textbook illustration of how mimetic theory works: “You desire stock not because it is objectively desirable. You know nothing about it, but you desire stuff exclusively because other people desire it. And if other people desire it, its value goes up and up and up.” There is hardly a field, sphere of life, or situation, where Girard’s theory does not apply. He finds that fascinating. Some of his readers find it too good to be true. Others find it scandalous.

more here.