PEG
+ Your AuthorsArchive @pegobry Fellow @EPPCdc. I occasionally write things longer than tweets. Feb. 02, 2021 2 min read

There's this new trend where, people are finding out Peter Thiel likes René Girard, and therefore Girard must be portrayed as an intellectual lightweight, because those people don't like Thiel's politics. It's fascinating.

Obviously Girad's mimetic theory can be criticized like any theory, but it's pretty clear that those who do the criticizing don't know more than the Wikipedia page, raise obvious "A-ha!" objections that Girard has answered (again, rightly or wrongly) a dozen times, etc.

There's a tradition in the European (or at least French?) intellectual world which I haven't seen in America, which goes something like this: Intellectual writes Important Book; Important Book is the subject of lots of discussion and criticism (this is how you know it's an ...

... Important Book); Intellectual does a book-length interview which (at least in part) addresses the main criticisms and clarifies the perceived misunderstandings in the Discourse that followed the Important Book. Girard in particular quite liked this method, and almost all...

... the objections to his theory that you see on the internet from people who have, at best, just read "Things Hidden..." and/or "Violence and the Sacred" have been addressed in these followup books. I guess the best good faith explanation is that most critics are not aware...

... of this, just not familiar with this "style"? I mean, Girard's theory came out in the 70s and he stayed active for decades thereafter, so you'd have to *assume* he had *something* to say to the most obvious criticisms of his theory.

Another good-faith allowance I'll make is that there *is* definitely a bit of a Girard cult (of which I am merely a fellow-traveler at best), and followers of an intellectual cult will tend to insist that you can't criticize the Master unless you've read ALL his works.

Which seems like too high a burden for a critic who doesn't want to rededicate his life to anti-Girardism, and is fair enough. And kind of seems like what I'm doing right now. But there ought to be some sort of equilibrium between "You don't have to be a mimetic theory ...

... autist to criticize mimetic theory" and "Probably you should have done the reading before running your mouth."

In any case, I wanted to say this mostly because I think the interview-book is a highly underrated genre which I really like and would like to see more of.

Especially the "response to critics" interview-book, which seems like a highbrow version of blog dialogue, and has the right level of (in)formality to allow you to amend your work, clarify stuff, etc., without having to devote a full scholarly effort to it.


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