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C.S. Lewis Account of Mimetic Desire

In Mere Christianity Lewis identifies “the great sin” of humanity as Pride. From his account it is clear that pride rests on what René Girard has called mimetic desire – i.e. a desire based on the imitation of what others desire. Mimetic desire can easily become competitive and lead to mimetic rivalry if people cannot or do not want to share the objects of their mutually enforced desire. The “proud man” derives his pride from the supposition that other people desire what he possesses. In a sense he needs competition (competitive desire) to affirm his prestigious aura, all the while of course not suspecting that his own desire is also based on the imitation of the desires of others… Of course, following the nuances of Lewis himself about pride, there’s nothing wrong with being proud of some achievement. To be proud of some recognition we receive from others might be a consequence of something that we have done. The proud man, on the other hand, is guided by his pride as the ultimate goal of his existence.

lately have been thinking a lot about books that require a little extra work on the reader’s part. you know, like, the active application of close attention, to the point of stepping out of the comfortable range of mental energy you usually afford literature and/or the world at large, into something more intense, taxing, intentional, and time-consuming. the books you have to skip back five pages and re-read almost every time you re-open them, because you read them before bed and didn’t really take ‘em in properly. the kind of books that make you wonder if you’re even capable of that sort of reading anymore, that’re always nagging you with that feeling of maybe missing something Important in the subtext, or even in the explicit text.

also been thinking maybe i’m just getting dumber.

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