mimetic desire

December 25, 2007 § 3 Comments


The philosopher Rene Girard theorizes that one wants (desires) an object, because another (of whom one admires &/or looks up to &/or envies) wants (desires, or is perceived to desire) a similar (if not the same) object.  The object wanted (desired) is sometimes less important than actual need.  The perception that another, may want the object (of desire), (more or less) also (sometimes) surpasses this need.  Another (real &/or imagined, hated &/or loved) is always present in the triad of memetic desire.  

Basically, one wants an object because another wants that object too (according to Girard).  When the desired object is scarce (say $$$, or a beautiful person &c.) a rivalry occurs, sometimes resulting in conflict (&/or death). 

–aurelio madrid

(key to above chart)  


object (of desire):

Meret Oppenheim, 1936
Why it matters: Of all the strange and compelling objects by the Surrealists, Oppenheim’s fur-lined cup and saucer is a true icon. It’s a commonplace object transformed into a work of art that alludes to the subconscious and nightmares. It’s funny and absurd and has potent sexual connotations. We recoil even as we are seduced by its sensuality and improbability.
How it happened: While at a Paris cafe, Pablo Picasso admired Oppenheim’s fur bracelet and remarked that one could cover just about anything with fur. “Even this cup and saucer,” Oppenheim replied.

Cup 4 3/8 inches diameter, saucer 9 3/8 inches diameter, spoon 8 inches long, overall 2 7/8 inches high. 


model (the other &/or rival) 

Anthony Gormley

Domain XXIV


Stainless steel bar

4.76 mm x 4.76 mm 190 x 57 x 37 cm


self (subject):

Aurelio Madrid

untitled (self portrait)


Graphite on paper

7 ½” x 5 ½” 

mimetic desire:


a conversation with René Girard about his theory of mimetic desire with Robert P. Harrison:


rené girard:


jenny holzer:




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