Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World
Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987. Octavo. Cloth boards in an unclipped dust wrapper, spine mildly sun-faded. First American edition. Near fine.
Originally published as Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde in 1978. A comprehensive overview of Girard's ideas, the book by which they will stand or fall. In a dialogue with two psychiatrists (Jean-Michel Oughourlian and Guy Lefort), Girard probes an encyclopedic array of topics, ranging across the entire spectrum of anthropology, psychoanalysis, and cultural production. Girard's point of departure is what he calles "mimesis," the conflict that arises when human rivals compete to differentiate themselves from each other, yet succeed only in becoming more and more alike. At certain points in the life of a society, according to Girard, this mimetic conflict erupts into a crisis in which all difference dissolves in indiscriminate violence. In primitive societies, such crises were resolved by the "scapegoating mechanism," in which the community, en masse, turned on an unpremeditated victim. The repression of this collective murder and its repetition in ritual sacrifice then formed the foundations of both religion and the restored social order.
“The peoples of the world do not invent their gods. They deify their victims.”