He Finds That Fascinating.
Excerpted from the article “A Happy Contrarian” by Costica Bradatan, posted on Commonweal:
The interviewers often push (René) 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.
You can read the whole article HERE.
We do take a lot of cues from other people. Would Friends be funny without the laugh track? If museums weren’t curated, would we admire the same artists? Would we read the same books?
Gold isn’t a terribly useful metal, but it’s worth a lot of money because everybody agrees that it’s worth a lot of money. If we woke up tomorrow and nobody wanted it anymore, the economy would collapse and the Western World would be thrown into chaos.
Human beings are a social animal, and learning from and adapting to each other isn’t a bad thing, but it’s probably a useful exercise to sometimes sit back and take a more objective view.
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