Mimetic Monday: January 11, 2021

Hi everyone,

Here is this week’s Mimetic Monday: the art, people, and news that inspire imitation—for better or for worse.

  • ⬆️ What I’m reading. Thomas J. Bevan is a pseudonymous writer based in the UK. His Substack newsletter, The Commonplace, has the strange feel of being from another place and time—a simpler one. (The five words the writer uses to describe himself are autodidact, feuilleton, flâneur, idler, and zuihitsu. If you don’t immediately know what all of these words mean, you’re not alone. Neither did I. But imbibe some of the man’s writing and you will soon learn.) I recommend, in particular, his essay on The Death of Lunch. In our culture of never-satisfied striving, Tom’s writing always reminds me to slow down. Most importantly, it inspires hope. He taught me to saw what could be of this decade: The Soaring Twenties.
  • ⬆️ Who’s inspiring me. Chloé Valdary is a young entrepreneur who founded Theory of Enchantment, a training program for schools, businesses, and individuals that helps heal the wounds of racism with a whole-person approach. The first of its guiding principles is: “Treat people like human beings, not political abstractions.” Chloé and I met up for a Zoom chat in December. I left our call inspired by her dedication and mission. I also love that her curriculum is interdisciplinary: it weaves together serious philosophical principles with popular culture—films, essays, books, and music. They come together to form a beautiful tapestry that helps people explore the complexity of the human condition.
  • 🛑 What I’m struggling with. The events that unfolded in the U.S. over the first nine days of 2021 were sad and troubling—to say the least. I’m most concerned about a coming escalation to extremes, which the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz warned about in his 1832 magnum opus (taught in almost every military academy in the world) On War. “War is the continuation of politics by other means,” he said. When the possibility for dialogue no longer exists, violence is all but inevitable. I wrote a 1,000-word essay summing up my initial thoughts on the matter, drawing on the work of René Girard (who was also fascinated by von Clausewitz), in my long-form newsletter Anti-Mimetic. You can find it here: The Twitter Ban: Handshakes and Emails—On Mimetic Violence, and the Necessity of Restraint.

Comments or questions? You can send me a tweet @lukeburgis (adding #mimeticmonday helps me find it). You can also text me at (+1) 202-918-3743 to added to my texts group (Note: I can only respond to short and very specific questions via text.)

Have a wonderful week, all—
May we all be wanting more by Sunday,

Luke

 

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