OK. So these notes are just to help me remember a few things. They need a lot of context.
Here, “mediator” is used to mean the one whose desires we are imitating. They are the model. We want to be like our father or mother. We want to be like that guitar-shredding rock star. We want to be beautiful like so-and-so. We want to be holy like that saint or that role-model. For better or worse, they are the gate-keeper of our desire once we’ve made them our model.
At a certain depth there is no difference between our own secret and the secret of Others. Everything is revealed to the novelist when he penetrates this Self, a truer Self than that which each of us displays. This Self imitates constantly, on its knees before the mediator. This profound Self is also a universal Self, for everyone imitates constantly, everyone is on his knees before the mediator.
-Rene Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure, p.297
EVERYONE IMITATES, everyone is just the same: compared to the deep, dark secret unearthed by Freud’s Oedipus, the fearsome secret of patricide and incest, this secret seems disappointingly tame.
There is something seductive in Freud’s notion that the king’s “destiny moves us only because it might have been ours – because the oracle laid the same curse upon us” Freud allows each of us to play the hero’s part in our own private drama. Girard, by contrasts, casts us in a decidedly unheroic posture, kneeling before the model whose desire we copy. It would be hard to imagine anything more humiliating than that. While incestuous and patricidal impulses are no doubt shameful, they also appear gratifyingly spontaneous, powerful, and extreme. In a world that places a premium on originality and authenticity, the most shameful thing for the Self may be to admit that it “imitates constantly, on it’s knees before the mediator.”
-Mark R. Anspach, Imitating Oedipus, p. xxxvi
Ouch. “imitates constantly, on it’s knees before the mediator”. This idea is SOOOO strongly resisted amongst artists. Imagine a young composer writing a piece of music. He wants to “find is own voice”. But what is he doing? It’s painfully obvious that he is imitating those who came before him at every freakin’ turn.
(That’s OK though! Let’s be honest.)