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FlirtationsRhetoric and Aesthetics This Side of Seduction$
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Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz, Barbara Natalie Nagel, and Lauren Shizuko Stone

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264896

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264896.001.0001

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The Luxury of Self-Destruction

The Luxury of Self-Destruction

Flirting With Mimesis With Roger Caillois

Chapter:
(p.106) The Luxury of Self-Destruction
Source:
Flirtations
Author(s):

John Hamilton

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823264896.003.0013

This chapter compares Freud’s critique of flirtation as “vapid” and “inane” with Plato’s concept of mimesis. It further theorizes a link between mimesis and death by considering two important essays by Roger Caillois. In “La mante religieuse” (“The Praying Mantis”) and “Mimétisme et Psychasthénie légendaire” (“Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia”), which appeared in the Surrealist journal Minotaure in 1934 and 1935, respectively, Caillois develops a conception of mimesis that harks back to as well as diverges from Platonic tradition. For Caillois mimesis is potentially debilitating, a case of flirtation that is seriously seductive. In particular, mimesis dissolves the border between the individual and its environment; hence the “psychasthenia” or the “weakening of the soul” that Caillois discerns as afflicting the very core of subjective identity. Along these lines Caillois displaces the phenomena of mimesis from the sphere of human consciousness and cognition to the nonverbal world of insect life.

Keywords:   flirtation, Sigmund Freud, Plato, mimesis, death, Roger Caillois, insect life

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