Monday, May 3, 2021


Here are some mimetic moments and thoughts from the week past and the week ahead:

🎈👀👀 Worthy of Imitation

One way out of negative cycles of destructive mimesis may be for humans to imitate other humans less—which we often do in rivalrous ways—and to imitate nature more. I don’t mean in the Lockean mode of “dominating” nature (which is to view nature as a rival, or something to be overcome); rather, I’m talking about studying nature and learning how to build sustainable things that are Lindy like it is. Biomimicry, according to Lex Amore of the Biomimicry Institute, is “the conscious emulation of nature’s genius.” Antoni Gaudí did this in the creation of the Sagrada Familia basilica in Spain—fashioning the architecture after his close study of the natural world—and in doing so he was able to create something that went beyond the existing architectural paradigms of his time. He made something transcendent. Entrepreneurs and scientists are beginning to see the benefits of imitating nature, too. Examples of biomimicry abound across domains as diverse as architecture, fashion, energy, food waste, agriculture, sanitation, transportation, and more. It might even help us become better prepared for future shocks like the Covid-19 crisis.

Of course, humans are gifted with the great capacity not only to imitate nature but to go beyond it—to create new value in the world by using our powers of creativity to make things that could only come from a rational mind that sees possibilities beyond the material sphere.

Nature is not our ultimate model. But it’s certainly not a bad one.

🙅🏽 Unworthy of Imitation

We don’t need more social media apps—certainly not more audio-based social media apps. This is what Peter Thiel would call “horizontal innovation”—incremental improvements rather than vertical innovation. They don’t take us from 0 to 1 but from N to N+1.

As copycats to Clubhouse continue to pop up (including Twitter’s “Spaces”), I can’t help but think of how much it represents our decadence. Clubhouse was not a “Zero to One” innovation. If we think that sitting on our couches talking to disembodied people is so much better than traditional social media because it encourages so much “dialogue” and “serendipity” and other pious-sounding platitudes I’ve heard over the past few months, then I think the problem is one of desire. If the awkward experience of muting and unmuting ourselves to give a “Take” in a Clubhouse room is enough to fulfill our desire for human connection—if that is all we want—then we need to learn to want more.

👂👂 Quote

“The deepest vocational question is not ‘What ought I to do with my life?’ It is the more elemental and demanding, ‘Who am I? What is my nature?'” —Parker Palmer

I’m often asked about how to live better lives in the midst of so much mimesis. The answer, I think, will always have to do with living more vocationally. When we know what we are uniquely called to do in this life, it makes the mimetic noise easier to discern. We know what we need to desire more, and what we need to desire less. We have a mission. And the desires that don’t help us accomplish that mission are easier to spot.


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