"Ils veulent manger de l'homme, et en même temps craignent d'être mangés,
aussi est-ce avec la plus grande suspicion qu'ils s'observent..." "  

Luxun - Journal d'un fou
* Hypothesis
* The triangle of the desire
* External & internal mediation
* The loss of the differences
* Mimetic rivalry

(1) For example, read in the press: "The hatred that all have for Bill Gates badly dissimulates their admiration for his insolente success ". Who would say these business leaders are schizophrenes ?

The model has a radical way to hold back the distance with the subject: to prohibit the possession of the object to his desire. To the message do like me which irradiated from model adds a completely opposite one: do not do like me.

Suddenly, the model is transformed into obstacle and combines two contradictory terms: he is at the same time the one who is adored (since he shows to the subject what is desirable) and the one who is hated (since, as rival, he prohibits the possession of it).

    "Le sujet éprouve donc pour son modèle un sentiment déchirant formé par l'union de deux contraires qui sont la vénération la plus soumise et la rancune la plus intense. C'est là le sentiment que nous appelons haine.

    Seul l'être qui nous empêche de satisfaire un désir qu'il nous a lui-même suggéré est vraiment objet de haine. Celui qui hait se hait d'abord lui-même en raison de l'admiration secrète que recèle sa haine. Afin de cacher aux autres, et de se cacher à lui-même, cette admiration éperdue, il ne veut plus voir qu'un obstacle dans son médiateur. Le rôle secondaire de ce médiateur passe donc au premier plan et dissimule le rôle primordial de modèle religieusement imité." (MRVR p.24)

It is in Dostoïevski that René Girard finds the most succeeded expression of this situation, because there is no more object and the model is whoever. When he writes the letter to his tourmentor, the man in the underground passes instantaneously from the most violent hatred to the most servile love, permanently oscillating between the two poles arising from his desire to be the one who humiliated him. René Girard's major theoretical contribution is to have extracted the truth of this circularity from the novelistic : it is because he is a model that the Other is a rival, but it is also because he is a rival that he is a model.

René Girard refuses to exclude both terms in two different fields of the reality and which would reserve this double contradictory requirement (that Gregory Bateson named the double bind) to the only duly labeled schizophrenes(1). These two states engendred by the mimetic desire coexist and the subject oscillates permanently between them. For the subject, if the model refuses the object to him, it is quite simply that he does not deserve it (thus returning him to his initial inferiority, his unworthiness). Never the subject wants to see a rival in his model (and never this one will admit that he is in rivalry with the subject) but the obstacle that he proposes to him now fixes the efforts of his desire to conquer it. The more the object is forbidden, the more its value and that of the mediator increases and thus more its conquest becomes essential.

    "Obstacles and contempt redouble the desire because they confirm the superiority of the mediator". (MRVR p.204)

In the famous chapter about Sadism and Masochism (I will write soon an annex to this approach) in MRVR, René Girard shows that this permanent search for the inaccessible object - and thus of the defeat or the victory of the rival always renewed - characterizes these two types of behaviors. Because we should not forget a thing: when one or the other catches the object of the rivalry, he can only be disappointed. " It was only that?.. ", the illusion passed and the desire must still go towards a new object, more reticent to its possession.

The nearby they are, the more the rivals are similar. As Girard reminds it, " the mimetic triangle is isosceles ", model and subject occupying in turn the role of the mediator. What we have just described concerning the subject affects also the model. The hatred which rises from this conflict is carrying a violence which waits only its turn to be reciprocal.

We live in a formidable age Jean-Marc Reiser - Editions Albin Michel

The Hypothesis • Girard's Anthropology • The Gospel Revelation
Debates (only in French) • BibliographyLinks