Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mimetic Theory

One set of You Tube videos on Mimetic Theory proposes that 1. We want things because others have them and we want to be like them. 2. Such desires create tension which can escalate into violence. 3. The theory is explained in the Bible and 4. The Bible tells us how to avoid this.

Rene Girard proposed at least part of this theory many years ago. We are mimicking or aping others. While this is acceptably true in childhood, some social scientists contend that it continues to occur throughout adulthood as well. "Keeping up with the Joneses"

Pretty things. Useful things, expensive toys for children and adults. We desire these things because others that we consider "successful" have them. Did we buy our new boat because someone else we thought was successful had a new boat. Well, I don't know anyone with a new boat. Our boat is in the shop; we love being on the water; our boat is no longer serviceable for what we want; so we bought a new boat. Sounds reasonable.

However, we bought a boat that is large enough to take friends out boating with us. Many of our friends do not have boats. We like to say that we have a boat so that we can enjoy boating with our friends. And, we do. But, sometimes I wonder about that. Are we being mimetic in our desires?

Take my yarn collection or my bead collection - why do I keep adding to this when I have more yarn and more beads than I can ever use. Why do things seem to mean so much when they really don't? I have visions of beautiful things made with these beads and this yarn. However, I either don't do it or can't do it. So these "things" go unused. But, that doesn't stop me from wanting more.

Some people say I am trying to fill an empty space in my life - an empty space that only God can fill. Don't think so. God and I get along just fine. Maybe I'm trying to make up for all the "stuff" that I didn't have when I was growing up and as a young adult - poverty can be a great motivator to hoarding.

But, desiring this stuff because others have it - nah, I don't think so. Desiring this stuff because I think it's pretty and it exists - maybe.

As for parts 3 and 4 of mimetic theory according to these You Tube videos - The Bible certainly does give a truthful picture of humanity and offers a pretty good model of what paradise could be. And, perhaps we could trace violence back to wanting what someone else has...but I'm not sure. We didn't fight the Crusades in order to have what someone else had - yet, we perpetrated violence.

I wonder how difference fits in with mimetic theory. Discomfort with strangeness. Yep, all in the Bible. But, also in other traditional stories from thousands of years before the Biblical writing. I wonder.


Fergie said...

thought provoking, as always. Thank you!

DanG said...

Yet, many churches preach that we deserve good things,ie. Fancy Cars, because God loves us. Shows to go ya, you can find just about anything you want in the Bible.

shallotpeel DonnaB said...

And, where does that leave Advertising and Commercialism and Capitalism? Are they part of what makes up the American dream of keeping up with the Joneses?