Mimetic Desire

Children were playing at a party. One of them suddenly found and grabbed a shiny red balloon. He started playing with that balloon only. When others saw him with a different balloon, all the children dropped their balloons and started fighting over his shiny balloon.

A college guy with a new girlfriend introduced her to his friends, secretly hoping that all of them would appreciate and like her, but when he saw a very cold response, he began to doubt whether he had made the right choice.

The above are two examples of mimetic desire, a concept developed and advocated by the French historian, philosopher, anthropologist and polymath, René Girard.

Mimetic desire operates as a subconscious imitation of another’s desire. Most of the humans don’t know what to desire and so they look outwards to make up the mind. As Girard said, mimetic desire leads to rivalry and eventually to scapegoating and revelation.

Coming back to desire, human desire is not a linear process. Rather, we desire according to the desire of others. So a lot of our desires don’t emerge from within, but from ‘outside’. We import our most powerful desires from imitating the desires of other people.

In fact, the entire advertising industry is based on the exploitation of the borrowed desire. It’s something like acquiring a thing that a model wants or to look like the model shown in an advertisement that solely operates on AIDA formula (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action).

The one and only fact about all advertisements is that they sell only one thing, i.e. hope by drawing attention, creating desire and provoking action. The media and especially the social media have become the excellent conduits of mimetic desire.

The French thinker Montesquieu, explained it beautifully as under:
“If one only wished to be happy, this could easily be accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.”

Mimetic comes from the word mimesis. Let’s make it sure that it doesn’t turn into something like a nemesis. Let’s remember that happiness is not determined by what is happening outside or around us, it blooms from within.

Just Be yourself 🥳

–Kaushal Kishore

30 Comments

  1. Desires are driven by hope for better. Unless we are happy with how we are then to get happier is an attained goal. Some objectives are not based on feelings these are needs. Food. Shelter as physical entities and religious needs. Beyond need is want. Desires and unlimited. Thought provoking post!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re right, Grace, we are more worried about our mimetic desires rather than the basic needs. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 😊💖

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a thought provoking piece which teaches us a lot about ourselves and how we operate. It’s always awesome to learn something new and acquire self awareness. Thank you for a great read and excellent point 😇

    Liked by 3 people

  3. “Be yourself” is the advice offered by many sages, Kaushal, and for a good reason;
    as humans have the tendency to be envious of what others have. It is a complex issue that requires more understanding.
    Thank you for the beautiful bird.
    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Kushaul! This piece is like five fingers in my brain trying to grab hold of thoughts slipping through them. Each desire has a source, eh? I think of the worldly desires of the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, and my mind sees the words of the Book of Ecclesiastes written in flaming fire illuminating the truth that “ALL IS VANITY and vexation of spirit.” But ah, there is another source of our desires: The TRUE ONE who brings the thoughts and ignites the desire to know Him and others, to love, to be loved, and to know His will and do it…. I believe that these desires are in the depth of every human being, and that when we realize that all other desires do not lead to happiness and fulfillment, these “divine” desires will spring up like seeds planted in good soil that will bring a bountiful harvest of joy and peace…. AND RIGHTEOUSNESS…. something this world can’t give us.
    How I thank you for this excellent, thought-provoking writing. It’s a “Wow!”
    ❤️Michele

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very well said, Michele! You’re so knowledgeable that I relish each and every word of yours. Your reference to the Book of Ecclesiastes is so beautiful.
      I’m glad you liked this post. In fact, we all have certain basic needs that have to be fulfilled. Once bottom level needs like food, clothing and housing are fulfilled, we go upward to satisfy higher level needs like safety, love and esteem, and finally to self actualisation. That should be the aim of the life. Thank you 😊💖

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, Joanna, it’s a complex issue. The mimetic theory given by Rene Girard talks about scapegoating and revelation too apart from desire. I avoided those parts to keep it simple and straightforward. I’m happy you liked the bird. Thank you.

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    1. You’re so right, Cindy. Thank you. We must look inward. Do you know that I don’t look at mobile or laptop or tv in the morning at least for 3 hours? Social media have become a necessary evil.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s sooooo true..
        That’s so awesome KK. I did not. I don’t’ watch TV. for sure.. what time do you get up? What do you do? I know I really don’t love it but like you say a necessary evil. 💖💖💖😘

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  6. Mimetic desire! This is a new idea to me but certainly one that rings true. I shall start to examine my desires now to see if they are mimetic. However, basically I grateful to be alive in my own life so maybe I don’t want the things that are advertised .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so happy to read your comment, Anne. Thank you so much. In fact, we know internally where we stand, but at times, we tend to betray ourselves by convincing with own logical or illogical facts. I appreciate your resolve and like you, all should not be misled by ads.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a great article and very thought provoking KK. You are so right and it is a sad way to live. I appreciate this piece because it helps to put things into perspective. It is too bad we can’t just be happy for those who obtain material things that make them happy without wanting them ourselves. My happiness comes from knowing God, the joy of love, nature, feeling healthy and that I have shelter, food, and clean drinking water. Thank you for teaching me something today as well. Blessings to you KK. Love ❤️ and hugs , Joni

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate you and your thoughts on happiness. That’s exactly what one should perceive. Self contentment is the best one. Thank you, Joni for such a lovely response. God bless you. Much love to you 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you KK. I had never heard of this French philosopher and really enjoyed the post. You poems and writings are always enlightening and full of wisdom often. I appreciate you too. Blessings always to you KK. Love Joni

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s absolutely true. When we are capable of having food, only then we start options of having pizza or hamburger. Thank you so much 😊💐

      Liked by 1 person

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