Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831), the Prussian military theoretician who wrote On War, is known above all for his famous dictum: “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” In René Girard’s view, however, the strategist’s treatise offers up a more disturbing truth to the reader willing to extrapolate from its most daring observations: with modern warfare comes the insanity of tit-for-tat escalation, which political institutions have lost their ability to contain. Having witnessed the Napoleonic Wars firsthand, Girard argues, Clausewitz intuited that unbridled “reciprocal action” could eventually lead foes to total mutual annihilation. Haunted by the Franco-German conflict that was to ravage Europe, in Girard’s account Clausewitz is a prescient witness to the terrifying acceleration of history. Battling to the End issues a warning about the apocalyptic threats hanging over our planet and delivers an authoritative lesson on the mimetic laws of violence.
Bill Bowen’s memoir deals with many of the most important events and years in Arkansas history in the twentieth century. Bowen was born and raised in Altheimer, in the Arkansas Delta, a section of the country that was among the most impoverished in the nation during the Depression. His adolescence was shaped by the Depression, and as a young adult he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and served in the U.S. Naval Reserve until 1963. After the war, Bowen became a tax attorney. He used his unique skills to refine the legal aspects of investment banking in Arkansas and became so proficient at it that he moved into the banking field to serve first as president then board chairman of one of Arkansas’s largest banks. Legal and banking experience led naturally to politics, and he became chief of staff for Gov. Bill Clinton. After Clinton announced his candidacy for president, it became Bowen’s task to protect the interests and programs of Governor Clinton in the face of intense pressure from then Lt. Gov. Jim Guy Tucker to become de facto governor. Even in retirement he continued to lead an energetic, productive life as he prepared himself for yet another career, this one in education, serving two years as dean of the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, Law School, which now bears his name.
A Company of Poets
Louis Simpson University of Michigan Press, 1981 Library of Congress PS3537.I75C6 1981 | Dewey Decimal 809.1
This is a collection of essays, reviews, and interviews in which the author, himself a distinguished poet, expresses his ideas about the nature of poetry and criticizes his contemporaries. Simpson takes his stand with the “poetry of feeling” and agrees with Woodsworth that poetry should be written in a selection of the language “really spoken by men.” His reviews of American poets who have since become famous show Simpson to be an acute an innovative thinker. There are also essays on modern classics: Apollinaire, MacDiarmid, Lawrence, Crane, and Pound. The collection shows the full range of the critic of whom the Times Literary Supplement recently said: “Simpson’s critical and narrative voice is very distinctive – it is generous, sympathetic, spontaneously free and wittily fatalistic. Most originally, perhaps, this voice marries criticism, biography, literary and cultural history in an imaginative atmosphere of sheer wonder and discovery.”
Three deaf women with widely varying stories share their experiences in this unique collection, revealing the vast differences in the circumstances of their lives, but also striking similarities. In Bainy Cyrus’s All Eyes, she vividly describes her life as a young child who was taught using the oral method at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, MA. Her account of the methods used (for example, repeating the same word over and over again, as many as 35 times), animates the extraordinary amount of work performed by deaf children to learn to read and speak. Cyrus also relates the importance of her lifelong friendships with two girls she met at Clarke, and how the different paths that they took influenced her as an adult.
Eileen Katz’s story, as told to Celeste Cheyney, offers a glimpse into a deaf girl’s life a generation before Cyrus. In Making Sense of It All: The Battle of Britain Through a Jewish Deaf Girl’s Eyes, Katz juxtaposes the gradual learning of the words who, what, where, and why with the confusing events of 1938 to 1941. As she and her fellow students grasped the meanings of these questions, they also realized the threat from the Nazi air attacks upon England. Katz also understood the compound jeopardy that she and her classmates faced by being both deaf and Jewish.
In contrast to the predominantly oral orientation of Cyrus and Katz, Frances M. Parsons writes of a year-long journey overseas in 1976 to lecture about Total Communication. Parsons traveled to Iran, India, Ceylon, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, the Philippines, Australia, and seven countries in Africa to teach administrators, teachers, and deaf students to communicate using sign, speechreading, writing, and any other means available. Her harrowing and fascinating anecdotes detail visits to ministries of education, schools, hospitals, clinics, palaces, hovels for the poorest of the poor, and all kinds of residential homes and apartments. Taken together, her travels testify to the aptness of her title I Dared!
The combined effect of these three Deaf women’s stories, despite the variation in their experiences, reveals the common thread that weaves through the lives of all deaf individuals.
Political philosophers Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin share an abiding interest in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In Disturbing Revelation, the first book to focus on their treatment of the Bible, John Ranieri explores how they draw on its texts in their philosophies and shows what these considerations say about whether the combination of religion and politics leads to violence or can prevent it.
In addressing fundamental questions of reason and revelation, Ranieri focuses not on Strauss’s treatment of Judaism or Voegelin’s of Christianity, but rather on the place of the Bible in their thought. He first examines the differences between their methodological approaches and attitudes toward the Bible and biblical criticism—rather than their attitudes toward religion or questions of faith—and then explores in depth their interpretations of the biblical message and its contribution to the modern world.
Ranieri shows how both men recognized that biblical texts must be seriously engaged in order for us to understand our contemporary situation—but that their appreciation of the Bible is marked by deep ambivalence concerning its vision of life and its influence on the political sphere. He brings their thought into conversation with that of René Girard, whose writings on violence and religion shed light on the problems that arise when biblical insights take root in a culture, and also offers fresh insight into Strauss’s elusive writings, such as his indebtedness to Nietzsche.
Disturbing Revelation reveals how Strauss and Voegelin viewed the applicability of biblical texts to what they considered the crisis of modernity without belaboring questions of their own personal faith. It is a clearly written exposition that reflects a rich understanding of the work of these thinkers and is as provocative as it is informative, not only for students of the two men but also for anyone interested in the relationship between philosophy and religious belief.
Echoes from the Holocaust
Mira Ryczke Kimmelman
"During the most difficult times of World War II," Mira Kimmelman writes, "I wondered whether the world really knew what was happening to us. I lived in total isolation, not knowing what was taking place outside the ghetto gates, outside the barbed wires of concentration camps. After the war, would anyone ever believe my experiences?"
Kimmelman had no way of preserving her experiences on paper while they happened, but she trained herself to remember. And now, as a survivor of the Holocaust, she has preserved her recollections for posterity in this powerful and moving book—one woman's personal perspective on a terrible moment in human history.
The daughter of a Jewish seed exporter, the author was born Mira Ryczke in 1923 in a suburb of the Baltic seaport of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland). Her childhood was happy, and she learned to cherish her faith and heritage. Through the 1930s, Mira's family remained in the Danzig area despite a changing political climate that was compelling many friends and neighbors to leave. With the Polish capitulation to Germany in the autumn of 1939, however, Mira and her family were forced from their home. In calm, straightforward prose—which makes her story all the more harrowing—Kimmelman recalls the horrors that befell her and those she loved. Sent to Auschwitz in 1944, she escaped the gas chambers by being selected for slave labor. Finally, as the tide of war turned against Germany, Mira was among those transported to Bergen-Belsen, where tens of thousands were dying from starvation, disease, and exposure. In April 1945, British troops liberated the camp, and Mira was eventually reunited with her father. Most of the other members of her family had perished.
In the closing chapters, Kimmelman describes her marriage, her subsequent life in the United States, and her visits to Israel and to the places in Europe where the events of her youth transpired. Even when confronted with the worst in humankind, she observes, she never lost hope or succumbed to despair. She concludes with an eloquent reminder: "If future generations fail to protect the truth, it vanishes. . . . Only by remembering the bitter lesson of Hitler’s legacy can we hope it will never be repeated. Teach it, tell it, read it."
The Author: Mira Ryczke Kimmelman is a resident of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and lectures widely in schools about her experiences during the Holocaust.
In 1939, Baruch Goldstein was a religiously observant adolescent resident of the Jewish community in Mlawa, a town that was then in East Prussia. After war broke out, the Jewish community there was relatively sheltered, as that region was incorporated into the German Reich rather than into the General Government (the German run-fragment of pre-war Poland, where conditions were harsh for everyone). However in 1942, Goldstein was sent to Auschwitz, where he stayed two-and-a-half years. His family was scattered all to their deaths, but he survived the war--barely. For Decades I Was Silent is an account of life in a small Polish-German town and provides information on the religious life of the Jewish citizens. This book creates a direct sense of the random, mystifying personal violence individuals felt at the hands of Germans--not the anonymous industrial death machine, but immediate, face-to-face violence.
After the war, Goldstein drifted as a refugee to UNRR camps in Italy. Over time, young Goldstein had to face the fact that all of his extended family was lost and he had only the possibilities of Palestine or help from distant relatives in the United States as a future. His American relatives urged him to enter the United States as a yeshiva student, and eventually he became a rabbi and started a family. As a young rabbinical student, and then as a rabbi, Goldstein was forced to confront the events of the Holocaust and the damage done to his faith. This well-written and evocative book eloquently handles Goldstein’s story.
In his explorations of the relations between the sacred and violence, René Girard has hit upon the origin of culture—the way culture began, the way it continues to organize itself. The way communities of human beings structure themselves in a manner that is different from that of other species on the planet.
Like Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Émile Durkheim, Martin Buber, or others who have changed the way we think in the humanities or in the human sciences, Girard has put forth a set of ideas that have altered our perceptions of the world in which we function. We will never be able to think the same way again about mimetic desire, about the scapegoat mechanism, and about the role of Jewish and Christian scripture in explaining sacrifice, violence, and the crises from which our culture has been born.
The contributions fall into roughly four areas of interpretive work: religion and religious study; literary study; the philosophy of social science; and psychological studies.
The essays presented here are offered as "essays" in the older French sense of attempts (essayer) or trials of ideas, as indeed Girard has tried out ideas with us. With a conscious echo of Montaigne, then, this hommage volume is titled Essays in Friendship and in Truth.
In the beginning, says the ancient Hindu text the Rg Veda, was man. And from man’s sacrifice and dismemberment came the entire world, including the hierarchical ordering of human society. The Head Beneath the Altar is the first book to present a wide-ranging study of Hindu texts read through the lens of René Girard’s mimetic theory of the sacrificial origin of religion and culture. For those interested in Girard and comparative religion, the book also performs a careful reading of Girard’s work, drawing connections between his thought and the work of theorists like Georges Dumézil and Giorgio Agamben. Brian Collins examines the idea of sacrifice from the earliest recorded rituals through the flowering of classical mythology and the ancient Indian institutions of the duel, the oath, and the secret warrior society. He also uncovers implicit and explicit critiques in the tradition, confirming Girard’s intuition that Hinduism offers an alternative anti-sacrificial worldview to the one contained in the gospels.
"It's in the nature of things that whole worlds disappear," writes the poet Robert Hass in the foreword to Jimmye Hillman's insightful memoir. "Their vanishings, more often than not, go unrecorded or pass into myth, just as they slip from the memory of the living."
To ensure that the world of Jimmye Hillman's childhood in Greene County, Mississippi during the Great Depression doesn't slip away, he has gathered together accounts of his family and the other people of Old Washington village. There are humorous stories of hog hunting and heart-wrenching tales of poverty set against a rural backdrop shaded by the local social, religious, and political climate of the time. Jimmye and his family were subsistence farmers out of bare-bones necessity, decades before discussions about sustainability made such practices laudable.
More than just childhood memories and a family saga, though, this book serves as a snapshot of the natural, historical, and linguistic details of the time and place. It is a remarkable record of Southern life. Observations loaded with detail uncover broader themes of work, family loyalty, and the politics of changing times.
Hillman, now eighty-eight, went on to a distinguished career as an economist specializing in agriculture. He realizes the importance of his story as an example of the cultural history of the Deep South but allows readers to discover the significance on their own by witnessing the lives of a colorful cast of characters. Hogs, Mules, and Yellow Dogs is unique, a blend of humor and reflection, wisdom and sympathy—but it's also a hard-nosed look at the realities of living on a dirt farm in a vanished world.
For René Girard, human life revolves around mimetic desire, which regularly manifests itself in acquisitive rivalry when we find ourselves wanting an object because another wants it also. Noting that mimetic desire is driven by our sense of inadequacy or insufficiency, Girard arrives at a profound insight: our desire is not fundamentally directed toward the other’s object but toward the other’s being. We perceive the other to possess a fullness of being we lack. Mimetic desire devolves into violence when our quest after the being of the other remains unfulfilled. So pervasive is mimetic desire that Girard describes it as an ontological illness. In Intimate Domain, Reineke argues that it is necessary to augment Girard’s mimetic theory if we are to give a full account of the sickness he describes. Attending to familial dynamics Girard has overlooked and reclaiming aspects of his early theorizing on sensory experience, Reineke utilizes psychoanalytic theory to place Girard’s mimetic theory on firmer ground. Drawing on three exemplary narratives—Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, Sophocles’s Antigone, and Julia Kristeva’s The Old Man and the Wolves—the author explores familial relationships. Together, these narratives demonstrate that a corporeal hermeneutics founded in psychoanalytic theory can usefully augment Girard’s insights, thereby ensuring that mimetic theory remains a definitive resource for all who seek to understand humanity’s ontological illness and identify a potential cure.
Photographs by Hikaru C. IwasakiForeword by the Honorable Norman Y. Mineta
In Japanese American Resettlement through the Lens, Lane Ryo Hirabayashi gathers a unique collection of photographs by War Relocation Authority photographer Hikaru Iwasaki, the only full-time WRA photographer from the period still living.
With substantive focus on resettlement - and in particular Iwasaki's photos of Japanese Americans following their release from WRA camps from 1943 to 1945 - Hirabayashi explores the WRA's use of photography in its mission not only to encourage "loyal" Japanese Americans to return to society at large as quickly as possible but also to convince Euro-Americans this was safe and advantageous. Hirabayashi also assesses the relative success of the WRA project, as well as the multiple uses of the photographs over time, first by the WRA and then by students, scholars, and community members in the present day.
Although the photos have been used to illustrate a number of publications, this book is the first sustained treatment addressing questions directly related to official WRA photographs. How and under what conditions were they taken? Where were they developed, selected, and stored? How were they used during the 1940s? What impact did they have during and following the war?
By focusing on the WRA's Photographic Section, Japanese American Resettlement through the Lens makes a unique contribution to the body of literature on Japanese Americans during World War II.
Journey Into Personhood
Ruth Cameron Webb University of Iowa Press, 1994 Library of Congress RC388.W43 1994 | Dewey Decimal 362.1968360092
In Journey into Personhood Ruth Webb tells the story of an individual born with severe cerebral palsy who struggles to become a person in her own eyes as well as in the opinion of those around her. By developing both the inner ability to learn, live, and work independently and the outer ability to convince others to give her the freedom to do so—physically and emotionally—Webb earned her Ph.D. in counseling and guidance. With that validation of her intelligence and competence, she entered upon a fulfilling career working with mentally retarded people and other people with disabilities.
This study reclaims and builds upon the classic work of anthropologist Elena Padilla in an effort to examine constructions of space and identity among Latinos. The volume includes an annotated edition of Padilla's 1947 University of Chicago master's thesis, "Puerto Rican Immigrants in New York and Chicago: A Study in Comparative Assimilation," which broke with traditional urban ethnographies and examined racial identities and interethnic relations. Weighing the importance of gender and the interplay of labor, residence, and social networks, Padilla examined the integration of Puerto Rican migrants into the social and cultural life of the larger community where they settled. Also included are four comparative and interdisciplinary original essays that foreground the significance of Padilla's early study about Latinos in Chicago. Contributors discuss the implications of her groundbreaking contributions to urban ethnographic traditions and to the development of Puerto Rican studies and Latina/o studies.
Contributors are Nicholas De Genova, Zaire Z. Dinzey-Flores, Elena Padilla, Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas, Mérida M. Rúa, and Arlene Torres.
Reveals the career of an influential but underappreciated photojournalist.
Photographer Nacho LÃ³pez was Mexico's Eugene Smith, fusing social commitment with searing imagery to dramatize the plight of the helpless, the poor, and the marginalized in the pages of glossy illustrated magazines. Even today, LÃ³pez's photographs forcefully belie the picturesque exoticism that is invariably presented as the essence of Mexico.
In Nacho LÃ³pez, Mexican Photographer, John Mraz offers the first full-length study in English of this influential photojournalist and provides a close visual analysis of more than fifty of LÃ³pez's most important photographs. Mraz first sets LÃ³pez's work in the historical and cultural context of the authoritarian presidentialism that characterized Mexican politics in the 1950s, the cult of wealth and celebrity promoted by Mexico's professional photographers, and the government's attempts to modernize and industrialize Mexico at almost any cost. Mraz skillfully explores the implications of LÃ³pez's imagery in this setting: the extent to which his photographs might constitute further victimization of his downtrodden subjects, the relationship between them and the middle-class readers of the magazines for which LÃ³pez worked, and the success with which his photographs challenged Mexico's economic and political structures.
Mraz contrasts the photos LÃ³pez took with those that were selected by his editors for publication. He also compares LÃ³pez's images with his theories about documentary photography, and considers LÃ³pez's photographs alongside the work of Robert Capa, Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and SebastiÃ£o Salgado. LÃ³pez's imagery is further analyzed in relation to the Mexican Golden Age cinema inspired by Sergei Eisenstein, the pioneering digital imagery of Pedro Meyer, and the work of Manuel Ã?lvarez Bravo, who Mraz provocatively argues was the first Mexican photographer to take an anti-picturesque stance.
The definitive English-language assessment of Nacho LÃ³pez's career, this volume also explores such broader topics as the nature of the photographic essay and the role of the media in effecting social change.
"John Mraz writes clearly and passionately. His excellent study will elevate LÃ³pez into the pantheon of photographers who have combined social commitment and artistic expression and creativity." Robert M. Levine
"If Manuel Alvarez Bravo is Mexico's version of Edward Weston, then Nacho LÃ³pez is probably the equivalent of W. Eugene Smith--that is to say, a photojournalist of international stature. Documentary photographers are all too often static bystanders, but LÃ³pez was a dynamic dissident. To appreciate his work, you have to be in possession of John Mraz's profound knowledge of Mexican social history. This is one of the most important contributions to the history of photography of the last twenty years." Mike Weaver
John Mraz is research professor at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades at the Universidad AutÃ³noma de Puebla in Mexico.
Through compelling personal accounts and family correspondence, One Step Ahead documents Alfred Feldman’s harrowing flight into exile as he and his family fled the pogroms that flooded across Nazi-occupied Europe. It is a memoir of horror and hope recounted by a man who survived the organized terror of Hitler’s "Final Solution" as it destroyed entire generations of European Jewish life within ten catastrophic years in the mid-twentieth century. Feldman’s memoir conveys the searing pain that has never left him, while demonstrating the triumphant humanity of a survivor.
Feldman vividly describes the impact of the escalating anti-Semitic hatred and violence in Germany during the 1930s, the impact of the notorious Nuremberg Laws in 1935, and the terrifying Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938. By age sixteen, Feldman was living with his parents and three younger sisters in Antwerp, Belgium, during the 1939 German invasions of Poland, marking the start of World War II. In the face of increasing persecution, Feldman’s extended family scattered over the globe in a desperate attempt to remain one step ahead of their Nazi pursuers.
Recalling his life on the run, Feldman describes what few survivors have chosen to write about: the Vichy raids of August 26, 1942; the French labor brigades; the Comité Dubouchage; and life in super-vised residence in France under the Italians. While in the south of France, Feldman endured food shortages and Nazi anti-Semitic measures, beginning with work camps and culminating in the deportation and ultimate death of his mother and sisters at Auschwitz.
To evade the Germans, Feldman and his father fled into the Italian Alps in September of 1943, hiding between the Allies and the Germans. Aided by local villagers, the Feldmans survived precariously for over a year and a half, along with other Jewish refugees, until that region was liberated. Only then, and only gradually, did Feldman manage to piece together the fate of his surviving family and learn at last of the death of his mother and sisters.
Now, as an adult, Alfred Feldman has retraced his escape and exile, taking his wife and children to his hometown in Germany, the mountains in Italy, and Montagnac, where a plaque commemorates his mother and sisters.
A Personal Country
A. C. Greene University of North Texas Press, 1998 Library of Congress F391.2.G66 1998 | Dewey Decimal 976.406
This book brings alive what one man feels about his childhood home. The place is West Texas, seen across a long vista in which today’s events and people merge with the author’s boyhood and young manhood.
It is a harsh, remote country, where the weather is always very close and the horizon far away. The Brazos country of long-ago Fourth of July fishing expeditions; the grass-grown remains of a way station of the Butterfield Stage Line; the streets of Abilene; the sparse grazing lands under infinite skies-all are made resonant by a native son’s affection and understanding. It is a way of life-resilient and persnickety-that is almost gone.
Above all, it is people: the author’s grandmother, who had a mortal fear of bridges and whose premonitions of unnamed calamities (that as often as not happened), both alarmed and pleased the young boy; Uncle Aubrey, who married late”; the blacksmith they awakened in the dead of night; the familiar neighbors; the rare and deliciously mysterious strangers.
With humor and strong, unsentimental feeling, A. C. Greene conserves for us the priceless eccentricities of place and person that are being flattened out-almost literally bulldozed away-by the impatient, insatiable onrush of the twentieth century. His West Texas is a very personal country, but what he seeks to share will be familiar to all who take pleasure in the memories that tie them to their own special region of America.
Over the past century, the Philadelphia Orchestra has earned its reputation as one of the finest orchestras in the world. Philadelphia Maestros tells the tale of this marvelous orchestra through the tenures of three conductors: Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, and Wolfgang Sawallisch. With their singular approaches to sound and public image, all three maestros left an indelible mark on the Orchestra, and the cultural life of the city of Philadelphia. A lifelong fan and scholar of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Phyllis White Rodríguez-Peralta paints intimate portraits of the conductors using archival material and interviews with musicians, including pianists Gary Graffman and Lang Lang, and violinist Sarah Chang. Rodríguez-Peralta's text captivates as she recounts Eugene Ormandy's performance as a last-minute substitute for guest conductor Arturo Toscanini; Riccardo Muti's magnetic presence and international fame; and the role of Wolfgang Sawallisch in moving the Orchestra to its grand new hall at the Kimmel Center. Engaging and entertaining, Philadelphia Maestros will be a welcome addition to any aficionado's bookshelf.
Santha Rama Rau was one of the best known South Asian writers in postwar America. Born into India’s elite in 1923, Rama Rau has lived in the United States since the 1940s. Although she is no longer well known, she was for several decades a popular expert on India. She provided an insider’s view of Indian cultures, traditions, and history to an American public increasingly aware of the expanded role of the United States on the world stage. Between 1945 and 1970, Rama Rau published half a dozen books, including travelogues, novels, a memoir, and a Time-Life cookbook; she was a regular contributor to periodicals such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, McCall’s, and Reader’s Digest.
Drawing on archival research and interviews with Rama Rau, historian Antoinette Burton opens Rama Rau’s career into an examination of orientalism in the postwar United States, the changing idioms of cosmopolitanism in the postcolonial era, and the afterlife of British colonialism in the American public sphere. Burton describes how Rama Rau’s career was shaped by gendered perceptions of India and “the East” as well as by the shifting relationships between the United States, India, Pakistan, and Great Britain during the Cold War. Exploring how Rama Rau positioned herself as an expert on both India and the British empire, Burton analyzes the correspondence between Rama Rau and her Time-Life editors over the contents of her book The Cooking of India (1969), and Rama Rau’s theatrical adaptation of E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, which played on Broadway in 1961 and was the basis for David Lean’s 1985 film. Burton assesses the critical reception of Rama Rau’s play as well as her correspondence with Forster and Lean.
As America confronts an unpredictable war in Iraq, Randolph returns to an earlier conflict that severely tested our civilian and military leaders. In 1972, America sought to withdraw from Vietnam with its credibility intact, with Nixon and Kissinger hoping that gains on the battlefield would strengthen their position at the negotiating table.
To read literature is to read the way literature reads. René Girard’s immense body of work supports this thesis bountifully. Whether engaging the European novel, ancient Greek tragedy, Shakespeare’s plays, or Jewish and Christian scripture, Girard teaches us to read prophetically, not by offering a method he has developed, but by presenting the methodologies they have developed, the interpretative readings already available within (and constitutive of) such bodies of classical writing. In The Prophetic Law, literary scholar, theorist, and critic Sandor Goodhart divides his essays on René Girard since 1983 into four groupings. In three, he addresses Girardian concerns with Biblical scripture (Genesis and Exodus), literature (the European novel and Shakespeare), and philosophy and religious studies issues (especially ethical and Jewish subject matters). In a fourth section, he reproduces some of the polemical exchanges in which he has participated with others—including René Girard himself—as part of what could justly be deemed Jewish-Christian dialogue. The twelve texts that make up the heart of this captivating volume constitute the bulk of the author’s writings to date on Girard outside of his three previous books on Girardian topics. Taken together, they offer a comprehensive engagement with Girard’s sharpest and most original literary, anthropological, and scriptural insights.
René Girard's Mimetic Theory
Wolfgang Palaver Michigan State University Press, 2013 Library of Congress B2430.G494P3513 2013 2003 | Dewey Decimal 203.4
A systematic introduction into the mimetic theory of the French-American literary theorist and philosophical anthropologist René Girard, this essential text explains its three main pillars (mimetic desire, the scapegoat mechanism, and the Biblical “difference”) with the help of examples from literature and philosophy. This book also offers an overview of René Girard’s life and work, showing how much mimetic theory results from existential and spiritual insights into one’s own mimetic entanglements. Furthermore it examines the broader implications of Girard’s theories, from the mimetic aspect of sovereignty and wars to the relationship between the scapegoat mechanism and the question of capital punishment. Mimetic theory is placed within the context of current cultural and political debates like the relationship between religion and modernity, terrorism, the death penalty, and gender issues. Drawing textual examples from European literature (Cervantes, Shakespeare, Goethe, Kleist, Stendhal, Storm, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Proust) and philosophy (Plato, Camus, Sartre, Lévi-Strauss, Derrida, Vattimo), Palaver uses mimetic theory to explore the themes they present. A highly accessible book, this text is complemented by bibliographical references to Girard’s widespread work and secondary literature on mimetic theory and its applications, comprising a valuable bibliographical archive that provides the reader with an overview of the development and discussion of mimetic theory until the present day.
When Athenians suffered the shame of having lost a war from their own greed and foolishness, around 404 BCE the public’s blame was directed at Socrates, a man whose unique appearance and behavior, as well as his disapproval of the democracy, made him a ready target. Socrates was subsequently put on trial and sentenced to death. However, as René Girard has pointed out, no individual can be held responsible for a communal crisis. Plato’s Apology depicts Socrates as both the bane and the cure of Greek society, while his Crito shows a sacrificial Socrates, what some might consider a pharmakos figure, the human drug through whom Plato can dispense his philosophical remedies. With tremendous insight and satisfying complexity, this book analyzes classical texts through the lens of Girard’s mimetic mechanism.
Once again cast in the companionable style of journal entries and notes that readers enjoyed in Lueders’s 1977 creative nonfiction classic The Clam Lake Papers, this new investigation into language and ways of knowing follows the author’s move from the north woods of Wisconsin to the Intermountain West of Utah.
The Salt Lake Papers is divided into two sections by location and time. Book One reflects the central geophysical presence of the Great Salt Lake, in view from Leuders’s home and the University of Utah campus where he studied and taught. Researched and composed during the 1980s, it is published here for the first time. Book Two begins with his retirement to the “earthscapes” of the Torrey–Capitol Reef area of southern Utah and contemplates the Colorado River system. Hydrology thus provides both the physical and the metaphysical basis for the author’s reflective insights and for the natural flow of his advancing thought.
Beautifully written, The Salt Lake Papers, in varied ways, speaks to the necessity of the humanities in the modern age. At its heart, Lueders’s small book of intellectual musings explores place and the ways landscape shapes what is observant in each of us.
“With simple means, without any ‘title,’ this book should in distant times always be in your memory.”
An imprisoned bookbinder wrote these words in a small blank book that he had secretly crafted from pilfered materials at the Terezín (Theresienstadt) concentration camp in September 1944. He presented the album to a fellow prisoner, twenty-one-year-old Marianka Zadików. Over the next several months, as the Nazis pressed forward with mass deportations from Terezín to Auschwitz, Marianka began to collect inscriptions and sketches from her fellow inmates.
Marianka Zadików’salbum, presented here in a facsimile edition, is a poignant document from the last months of the Holocaust. The words and images inscribed here—by children and grandparents, factory workers and farmhands, professionals and intellectuals, musicians and artists—reflect both joy and trepidation. They include passages of remembered verse, lovingly executed drawings, and hurried farewells on the eve of transport to Auschwitz. The great German-Jewish scholar Rabbi Leo Baeck, one of the elders of the camp, offers Marianka an inscription about Jewish self-discovery, and participants in Terezín’s now-famous musical performances fill several pages with musical annotation.
Facing-page translations render the book’s multitude of languages into English, while historical and biographical notes give details, where known, of the fates of those whose words are recorded here. An introduction by acclaimed Holocaust scholar Debórah Dwork tells the story of the Terezín camp and how Marianka and her family fared while imprisoned there.
The array of voices and the glimpses into individual lives afforded us by The Terezín Album make it an arresting reminder of the sustaining power of care, community, and hope amid darkness.
Accomplished political leaders have a clear strategy for turning political visions into reality. Through well-honed analytical, political, and emotional intelligence, leaders chart paths to promising futures that include economic growth, material prosperity, and human well-being. Alas, such leaders are rare in the developing world, where often institutions are weak and greed and corruption strong—and where responsible leadership therefore has the potential to effect the greatest change.
In Transformative Political Leadership, Robert I. Rotberg focuses on the role of leadership in politics and argues that accomplished leaders demonstrate a particular set of skills. Through illustrative case studies of leaders who have performed ably in the developing world—among them Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Seretse Khama in Botswana, Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, and Kemal Ataturk in Turkey—Rotberg examines how these leaders transformed their respective countries. The importance of capable leadership is woefully understudied in political science, and this book will be an important tool in exploring how leaders lead and how nations and institutions are built.
That a Jew living in Nazi Berlin survived the Holocaust at all is surprising. That he was a homosexual and a teenage leader in the resistance and yet survived is amazing. But that he endured the ongoing horror with an open heart, with love and without vitriol, and has written about it so beautifully is truly miraculous. This is Gad Beck’s story.
In this lively series of conversations with writer Michel Treguer, René Girard revisits the major concepts of mimetic theory and explores science, democracy, and the nature of God and freedom. Girard affirms that “our unprecedented present is incomprehensible without Christianity.” Globalization has unified the world, yet civil war and terrorism persist despite free trade and economic growth. Because of mimetic desire and the rivalry it generates, asserts Girard, “whether we’re talking about marriage, friendship, professional relationships, issues with neighbors or matters of national unity, human relations are always under threat.” Literary masters including Marivaux, Dostoevsky, and Joyce understood this, as did archaic religion, which warded off violence with blood sacrifice. Christianity brought a new understanding of sacrifice, giving rise not only to modern rationality and science but also to a fragile system that is, in Girard’s words, “always teetering between a new golden age and a destructive apocalypse.” Treguer, a skeptic of mimetic theory, wonders: “Is what he’s telling me true...or is it just a nice story, a way of looking at things?” In response, Girard makes a compelling case for his theory.
Words to Create a World
Daniel Hoffman University of Michigan Press, 1993 Library of Congress PS3515.O2416Z477 1993 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Words to Create a World collects interviews, essays, and reviews by distinguished poet, critic, and literary historian Daniel Hoffman. The book begins with the text of his inaugural address as Consultant in Poetry for the Library of Congress, in which Hoffman examines the stylistic revolution that signaled the birth of modernism. The final essay, “Wings of a Phoenix?”, examines the possibilities for poetry in this postmodern era.
Between these are discussions of books by and about founding modernists (Pound, Moore, Sitwell, Frost, Graves, Auden) who do not “succumb to the imitative fallacy and gibber at the window because the house is on fire.” Hoffman’s historical imagination elucidates the work of many other contemporary American and British poets, including his own. Words to Create a World will appeal to the reader who enjoys poetry and who hopes for guidance over the sprawling terrain of verse in the twentieth century.