Monday, June 7, 2021


The good, the bad, and the quotable:

Positive Mimesis

Forgiveness. As I near the celebration (finally!) of my pandemic-delayed marriage next month—which I couldn’t be more excited about—Claire and I have called to mind the power of forgiveness and how important it is in building a lifelong bond of unbreakable love. There is a lot of talk about the importance of forgiveness for an individual, or the effect of forgiveness in a relationship between two people—but what is often lost is the mimetic power of forgiveness. It spreads. It works its way through a community, contagiously. I think folks like Marina Cantacuzino and her colleagues at the Forgiveness Project understand this.

Negative Mimesis

Shame. An executive friend of mine has intuited that the most dominant hidden emotion in Fortune 500 companies is shame. Do you agree? We learn it from a young age. The Girard scholar Suzanne Ross writes: “Children are not born ashamed of their mimeticism. Shame is learned from and through interaction with shamed models. Without shame, children do not become their own stumbling blocks, and this opens up the possibility for a different, healthy relationship to objects.” I can think of no greater obstacle to innovation than shame. It’s something few companies are willing to address. But if you would like some help in doing so, you know where to find me.


“Passive, submissive imitation does exist, but hatred of conformity and extreme individualism are no less imitative. Today they constitute a negative conformism that is more formidable than the positive version. More and more, it seems to me, modern individualism assumes the form of a desperate denial of the fact that, through mimetic desire, each of us seeks to impose his will upon his fellow man, whom he professes to love but more often despises.” —René Girard, in The One By Whom Scandal Comes

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