It all started with… dinosaurs. From an early age I was fascinated by these strange creatures that walked the earth millions of years ago. Not surprisingly, as a young boy I wanted to become a paleontologist.
This initial plan concerning my future took a slight turn from the moment I met Michaël Ghijs (1933-2008), a catholic priest and teacher at the high school I was attending. He was also the founding conductor of the boys’ and men’s choir Schola Cantorum Cantate Domino. He enabled his singers, me being one of them, to broaden their horizon on many levels: on the geographical and cultural level by literally travelling the world with us, but also spiritually by living out the message of the Gospel. Inspired by his example and my experiences within his choir, I decided to commit myself to a further exploration of the ‘Christian story’.
I hold a master’s degree in religious studies from the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium). It was in Leuven I first encountered the work of René Girard (born in 1923), one of the great intellectuals of our time and immortel of the Académie Française. A little book by a great theologian, Knowing Jesus by James Alison, set me on track to discover Girard’s further developed mimetic theory. For me, this became an anthropological and interdisciplinary starting point to challenge the richness of the Christian tradition. It affected me in a very profound way, and I’m convinced that the thought provoking power of mimetic theory can support our multi layered human society on the road to ‘post-sacrificial’ peace.
Eventually, I wrote a book in Dutch entitled Vrouwen, Jezus en rock-‘n-roll. Met René Girard naar een dialoog tussen het christelijk verhaal en de populaire cultuur (Averbode, 2009), which translates to Women, Jesus and rock-‘n-roll. Taking René Girard to a dialogue between the Christian story and popular culture. I also became a member of the Dutch Girard Society and of COV&R (the Colloquium on Violence & Religion).
This blog is dedicated to share thoughts and information on mimetic theory, as well as meditations inspired by the Christian story.
I’m currently teaching at a Jesuit High School, Sint-Jozefscollege, in Aalst (Belgium). In my spare time I keep on singing, as an alto or countertenor, trained at Schola Cantorum Cantate Domino as I mentioned (I was a member from 1991-2010 – more information at www.cantatedomino.com). I took part in several recordings, both as a choir member and as a soloist – to listen to some fragments of those recordings, click:
Nowadays I’m singing mostly in ensembles like El Grillo (www.elgrillo.be) and Incensum.
One might ask what became of my interest in dinosaurs. Well, through it all, it’s still there… It’s still there because, in hindsight, my fascination for those strange creatures can be considered as a seed that grew into an inquisitiveness for everything that was other than myself – the odd and unique world in which we all live. This inquisitiveness became a love for the gift of reality and an experience of grace. The blog you’re visiting is a small attempt to share some aspects of that joyful experience. From a thankful awareness of what came before, I’m watching for the hopeful presence of ‘the ultimate Other’ – the One whose contours are creatively present in the midst of our efforts to become a loving human community.
Thank you for your ‘watchful’ visit!
As for the pace of posts appearing on this blog, the Slow Blog Manifesto says it all…
For more on how things used to be in the Cantate Domino boys’ and men’s choir,
CLICK TO WATCH:
This is really interesting, I’m looking at very similar ideas in my work as an artist, having been an actor I understand the power of mimesis in developing empathy, and I’m trying to find ways to communicate this.
Interesting, indeed. Acting is a mimetic process as well, of course. Maybe this will interest you – click: Shakespeare musta loved Seinfeld ,
or this: Otello’s (Des)demon(a). Have fun!
Thanks for this. It’s great stuff! Have you seen this
Thanks! I hadn’t seen that website before.
do you read German? I just posted a hymn/a song which I wrote right after having read “I see Satan falling …” – and then I was just curious if there were other people blogging about Girard.
I always hear from priests and ministers that it is very difficult to choose hymns to sing during these days and then in Holy Week. The old language seems to be not very accessible … So I tried to put together what I have understood from Girard.
Maybe it’s of interest for you?
Vielen Dank für das Lied! Ich verstehe Deutsch, aber sprechen oder schreiben fällt mir schwer.
So I’ll continue in English :).
What you’ve done is very interesting. Thank you very much! How did you get acquainted with Girard’s work?
Maybe this will interest you as well:
This post contains a reference to a book in German about U2 (maybe you like pop-music as well?), from the point of view of mimetic theory.
if I like pop music? Yes. Bono? Not sure 🙂
You have interesting stuff on your blog anyway which I need some time to explore yet!
How I came across Girard: I read James Alison’s recent collection of essays (“Broken Hearts and New Creations”).
When one Lutheran pastor complained about that there were no “singable” old hymns and no new songs for Lent and Passion, I said: “Well, that’s not so much a crisis of poetry and music but the lack of an accessible theology of the cross itself. – Provide us with the theology and I will write a new song.”
But I decided to read for myself then. And that was “I see Satan fall …” because other works by Girard in German are out of print at the moment. – I am a bit surprised that Girard’s ideas are not that much (or maybe: not at all) adapted by protestant theology. It’s more the catholics, isn’t it?
Well, that’s it. Give me some time to explore your stuff here. – Trying to get further into Girard’s ideas I am at the moment reading “The Scapegoat” (in English translation – but I know that I would understand more if there would be a German edition available). Also I stumbled upon a poem by Bonhoeffer about Jona which highlights a lot the sacrificial aspect. Some Girardian theologian should say something about that. And then even something else: I am reading “‘fairy’ tales” by Hans Christian Andersen. That story about the news clothes of the emporer should also be interesting concerning mimesis and how Andersen tells the end of the story about that one child which breaks through the overall mimetic behaviour of the adults … It could be a “typos” of Christ.
Well, that was a bit long for a comment section. – I’m glad to have discovered this place here to learn more! Thanks a lot.
P.S. If this conversation should continue maybe you could just write me an e-mail.
I don’t mind communicating like this, although at some point we might continue by e-mail :).
Again, maybe this will interest you, concerning mysticism: http://erikbuys.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/hip-hop-mysticism/.
As for the story of H.C. Andersen, I’d like to recommend this article by Mark Anspach:
I made a reference to it in Dutch (which you probably don’t understand?):
Anyway, Mark Anspach is a very interesting anthropologist.
I loved your videos on mimesis. Thanks for doing them. They are excellent. How long did those take to do?
I just set up my own blog on psychopathy examined through Girardian Theory. Stop by if you’re interested at 180rule.com
I’ve added a link to your site from there as well.
The videos took quite some time – all in all two months, I guess (research included etc.).
I’ll certainly visit your blog.
I recently came across your blog and have been enjoying reading through it. Your thoughts on the ‘Mimetic Theory’ are very interesting.
I was wondering if you would be interested in sharing your blog on Glipho? Glipho is a new social blogging network that aims to promote the writing of its users and help build their audiences. We are trying to establish a creative community at Glipho, and your blog is just what we are looking for.
As your blog is powered by WordPress, you can simply import all your old posts to Glipho without affecting your existing blog at all. You can use your Glipho account to connect to any other major social network accounts you may own, so you can spread your blog as far as possible. We also use our own social media accounts to promote your content.
If you’re interested check out our website at http://glipho.com and have a look around. Please feel free to ask me any questions, and if you would like to receive an invite to set up an account!
Have a great day,
14 Suite 3 D
Docklands Business Centre
10-16 Tiller Road
London E14 8PX
It indeed seems interesting! You can send me the invite.
Thanks for the information,
Thanks for this great resource. I just discovered your blog today and cannot wait to read more so that I can continue exploring the important work of Girard. Peace be with you.
You’re welcome! I hope that you may find some things that interest you.
Tijdens het lezen van uw boek ‘Vrouwen, Jezus en rock-‘n-roll’ kwam ik op pagina 39 het voorbeeld tegen waar Girard poneert dat een crisissituatie abrupt beëindigd kan worden door een voorval met de dood tot gevolg of de mogelijkheid hiertoe.
Dit deed me spontaan denken aan de openingsscène van de film ‘Gangs of New York’ waar het vechten tussen verschillende bendes ook abrupt eindigt met de dood van de leider van de groep, priester Vallon.
Ik probeerde hier ook de band te leggen met de mimetische theorie omdat Vallon in een latere scène 16 jaar na datum nog steeds geëerd wordt, als zondebok, door zijn moordenaar (er is een afbeelding van hem die valt tijdens een gevecht (toevallig?)).
Ik kon echter geen verder verband vinden hoewel er vele elementen van de mimetische theorie aanwezig waren.
Ik vroeg me af wat uw kijk hier op is.
Alvast bedankt voor de tip aangaande “Gangs of New York”. Uw initiële interpretatie is veelbelovend. Ik zou de film nog eens moeten herbekijken om er verder over van gedachten te wisselen.
In ieder geval bedankt voor uw interesse!