Monday, September 20, 2021


People and things worthy or unworthy of imitation.

Positive Mimesis

“The literature of the voice is dying. The literature of the pose has arrived,” writes Stephen Marche in his LitHub essay, Winning the Game You Didn’t Even Want to Play: On Sally Rooney and the Literature of the Pose. Sally Rooney is an Irish novelist and screenwriter who is considered one of the best millennial writers in the world. Her latest novel, Beautiful World: Where Are You, was released September 7 to great fanfare.

“Sally Rooney is unhappy,” Marche takes away. “Sally Rooney has everything and Sally Rooney is unhappy. Sally Rooney is unhappy because Sally Rooney has everything.” One of the main characters in the novel, which is clearly modeled after Rooney, is miserable, and the writing seems to summarize a whole generation of millennial affectivity. (I am a millennial, by the way—just of a different era of millenialism than Rooney.) What’s going on with millennials? Why are we all unhappy socialists? (I am not, as you know by now—but Rooney is a self-proclaimed Marxist, and those ideas seep through her writing in many ways.)

I include Marche’s essay as a form of positive mimesis because he hits on what I believe is the most important movement of desire that might help more of my fellow millennials escape the torment. “All writers today, of all generations, exist in resistance,” Marche writes. “The escape from ourselves is narrowing and the network grows wider, tighter. Sinking down into impotent cruelty, we avoid, by whatever means available, the deepest darkness: Perhaps we are no longer meaningful to one other.”

But we are infinitely meaningful to one another. In order to grasp it, though—in order to see what John Henry Newman saw, that the human person has his “own center . . . he has a depth within him unfathomable, an infinite abyss of existence….,” an important kind of primary freedom is required: freedom from the abyss of ourselves.

Negative Mimesis

It’s too late for Chinese property developer Evergrande, which investors are now expecting to default on a loan later this week. Massive reflexivity in the market is already at work, especially in the bond markets. Investors will be watching coupon payments on offshore payments in the coming days. Nobody really knows how much exposure the global economy has to a potential default or how contagious it will be, but given the mimesis in the market this past year I expect it to be more severe than most are predicting. There is one certainty: someone is going to make a lot of money on a trade. Anyone re-watch The Big Short today?

What I’m Reading

Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy, by Barbara Ehrenreich. I have to thank one of the Anti-Mimetic premium substack readers for this recommendation in our community Discord. For a very limited time today, you can sign-up and join for 20% off an annual subscription using this special link. The book recommendations (from community members) alone are worth it. Hope to see you there.


Have a beautiful week.

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