lds-herm blog

Discussion of hermeneutics, esp. as it pertains to LDS scripture

Getting back to the project: chapters 7 and 8

Posted by joespencer on November 21, 2007

We have all been away from Girard for a good while now, but several things have begun to push me back in this direction, and working through chapters 6-8 has been enormously helpful for me in situating his thought. I want to summarize, in extreme brevity, the summarizing work of chapters 7 and 8 and then get us moving onto the second half of the book, where Girard deals with scriptural texts directly. A few words, then. Read the rest of this entry »


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The Scapegoat, ch. 6: “Ases, Curetes, and Titans”

Posted by Robert C. on September 3, 2007

I’m really time pressed this week, so I’m going to simply mention what I personally found most intriguing in this chapter: the issue of transference. On p. 72, Girard writes:

In their eyes collective murder is too scandalous to be authentic. They do not consider it a falsification of the text when they reinterpret that scene in their own fashion. They consider the transmission of the myth at fault. Instead of faithfully reporting the tradition handed down to them, their forefathers must have corrupted it because they could not understand it. In this myth, too, the violence that was formerly shared by many is attributed to one god only, Kronos, who as a result of this transference becomes truly monstrous. This sort of caricature is unusual in myths that portray collective murder. There is a certain sharing of good and evil: moral dualism appears as collective violence is eliminated.

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The Scapegoat, chapter 5: “Teotihuacan”

Posted by joespencer on August 21, 2007

I’m glad I had to write this post this week because it impelled me to dig back into Girard, whose work (as far as this book goes) I almost had begun to feel like I had decently compassed. But there is something of a big shift in this chapter, and I hope that it yields a great deal more fruit. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Scapegoat, ch. 4: “Violence and Magic”

Posted by Robert C. on August 14, 2007

I’m not sure if this chapter was easier to read, or just easier relative to other things I’ve been reading, or if I’m just understanding Girard’s writing style better. At any right, I found lots of interesting things to think about in this chapter.

First, I find this idea of good-and-bad-as-one very interesting. On p. 47, “Lopez, like Oedipus and like Apollo himself, is both master of life and master of death.” Not quite sure why, but this reminded me of a character type called the “superfluous man” found in Russian literature, epitomized best by Lermontov in A Hero of Our Time. If I recall correctly, the setting is in Russia after the Napoleonic wars and the book is about this character who, if he had lived during the war, surely would’ve been a great war hero—he was courageous, and intelligent, and was well liked by others. However, living after the war, he doesn’t have much to engage him, so he mischievously starts playing games with a woman’s emotions (again, it’s been too long since I’ve read that book, though I found it very interesting). Anyway, this idea of hero-as-villain and villain-as-hero resonates with me. I haven’t seen the Spiderman 3 movie, but my sense is that this same idea comes into play there, as it does in many other great superhero plots. And of course we see this in LDS scripture regarding Lucifer who was one of the great ones in heaven (too much of a hurry to track down the exact verse…). Read the rest of this entry »

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The Scapegoat, chapter 3: “What is a myth?”

Posted by joespencer on July 30, 2007

In chapter 3, we suddenly find Girard changing his story: the first two chapters have been a necessary diversion or a helpful distraction. He states this quite bluntly on page 28

As a result we no longer see it [the persecution event behind the persecution text] as controversial but as the pure and simple truth of these texts. And we have good reason. It remains to find out why such a solution does not occur to us in the case of a myth like that of Oedipus. That is the real problem. The lengthy analysis I havae just given of the type of interpretation that automatically results int he identification of stereotypes of persecution was necessary in order to understand that problem.

This point of transition is vital, I think (right now), to understanding Girard’s entire project: what does this move betray about what Girard is doing? Read the rest of this entry »

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The Scapegoat, chapter 2: “Stereotypes of Persecution”

Posted by Robert C. on July 24, 2007

Here are a few of my thoughts and questions (esp. questions) in response to Chapter 2 (I’m probably going to be pretty busy over the next several days, so I’m hurrying to at least write something up):

First, before talking about sameness, difference, and the system/structure underlying community which Girard seems to discuss in the bulk of the middle of the chapter, I’d like to think a bit more about this notion of exchange as it pertains to violence, or as we commonly say, the cycle of violence. On page 13 Girard writes,

The reciprocity of negative rather than positive exchanges becomes foreshortened as it becomes more visible, as witnessed in the reciprocity of insults, blows, revenge, and neurotic symptoms. That is why traditional cultures shun a too immediate reciprocity.

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Mechanics of the blog

Posted by cherylem on July 19, 2007

Would someone explain to me how to italicize?


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The Scapegoat, chapter 1: “Guillaume de Machaut and the Jews”

Posted by joespencer on July 16, 2007

I wrote this (among other things) at the end of the first chapter in my copy of The Scapegoat: “The first chapter traces a kind of trajectory towards Lacan and Badiou.” I would like to articulate this without, if this is possible, leaving the text of the first chapter.

I think it is worth noting, from the very start, that The Scapegoat opens on a literary note, that Girard gives himself to his readers as a through-and-through literary critic. This would of course be of no surprise to someone familiar with Girard’s work (as is made quite clear in the biographical links Cheryl has provided us), but I think it does come as a surprise to those coming to Girard for the first time. I suppose I expected something more overtly political, or more overtly abstract, maybe something more overtly “philosophical.” Let me be sure to add: I was profoundly relieved by what I found. Read the rest of this entry »

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An attempt at a Girardian introduction

Posted by cherylem on July 15, 2007

I’m not going to write a history of Girard, or a summary of his works or works about him, as there are plenty of Internet links regarding the work of Rene Girard. Perhaps a good place to start is here; you should click on the biographical sketch by James Williams first, I think. Read the rest of this entry »

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God in Girard’s anthropology

Posted by Robert C. on July 5, 2007

So it turns out that instead of ordering Girard’s The Scapegoat as an audiobook, I got a CBC Radio 5-part special on Girard (part of a regular feature called Ideas, which has a very interesting list of programs which can be ordered, as audiobooks or as written transcripts). This was a serendipitous mistake, because the series is a very good introduction to Girard’s thought.

The title of the series is The Scapegoat: RenĂ© Girard’s Anthropology of Violence and Religion, written and produced by David Cayley. My wife’s undergraduate degree is in Anthropology, from BYU. She says that many view this degree as a “high risk” degree in terms of one’s testimony of the Church, which some anecdotal evidence suggests is not a completely unfounded view (I’ve heard something similar about philosophy, at least at the graduate level, though I don’t even have anecdotal evidence regarding philosophy, and I presume the claim applies mostly to analytic philosophy, which doesn’t surprise me because of the tension between faith and reason lying, arguably, at the heart of modernity which of course analytic and Continental philosophy address quite differently—but I’m severely digressing, sorry).

My question in this post is: What are the potential conflicts between anthropology and faith, esp. as it pertains to Girard’s anthropology? Read the rest of this entry »

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