Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World

I've just started reading some essays by Rene Girard. I've been instructed to read this dude by a variety of sources including Bryce, whom i work with at the library. Girard is the creater of an idea, an idea so powerful that Girard finds it in the foundation of all others. But it's not really an idea, it's more a mechanism, a non-conscious working of the social body, operative everywhere in human history.

This is called Mimetic Theory. The structure of the theory goes something like this:
Desire is triangular as no one simply desires an object spontaneously, but learns the desire from another.
Conflict and rivalry then occurs over the desired object.
Death occurs. This fulfillment then is not the attaining of the object of desire but the denial of the rival.

Take for example the family. Girard basis this in the context of Freud's Oedipal desire. Freud thinks that the founding even of society was the collective murder of the father by the brothers in the primal horde. Guiltstricken by what they had done the brothers then divinized their father and denied themselves the very think for which they commited the patricide: the sexual use of the hordes females.

This is the fundamental truth hidden since the foundation of the world says Girard in his book Violence and the Sacred; the collective murder of an arbitrary victim. So the violence is then endless, obeying the simple law of mimetic reciprocation (vegeance). It was discovered somewhere down the line in this history that peace was re-established through finding and killing a single and common enemy to whom all attributed their misfortune. This simple event-killing of one by all- founds soceity, religion, and all other major social institutions. This is called the scapegoat mechanism.

Sometimes the scapegoat undergoes a transformation in death. Since the death brought peace, the murdered then becomes a saviour of the group. People then use ritual reenactments of the saving murder, which becomes the institution of sacrifice.

Such scapegoat murders can be applied to Jesus, MLK Jr., JFK, and more. Here we have the exact pattern Girard spoke of. Someone comes with a new revolutionary idea. These people are popular, fall from grace, and are then killed or assassinated. In death these people become the savior or to the least iconic.

But does this bring about a lasting peace? More on this later!


Anonymous said...

Hi Puke, Hellion here.

Um...this theory is scarey to me. Make it stop.

Bacchus said...

That's what the crowd said. But they only closed their eyes and stopped their ears. Myth is what happens when the details aren't supposed to be remembered, only the effects.