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  • From the Editor
  • William A. Johnsen

This issue features four essays from Innsbruck, by Mathias Moosbrugger, Andreas Oberprantacher, Wolfgang Palaver, and Niki Wandinger, each serious and wide-ranging, with no duplication of subject. At first I thought I would have to separate them because they originate within a few buildings of each other, but thinking through the weakness of this scruple gave me the identity for this issue: fields of force is an old-fashioned term, but useful to describe volume 17.

Included in this issue is Federica Casini's remarkable survey of work on mimetic theory in Italian, translated and augmented by Pierpaolo Antonello. Could anyone have sensed the extent of this prodigious field of research activity without her survey? We add to this field Giuseppe Fornari's "Figures of Antichrist." (Michigan State University Press will publish the translation of Fornari's Da Dioniso a Cristo next year.) We also have fine essays by David Humbert on Hitchcock's The Birds, by Allan Doolittle on Pope's The Dunciad, and by Terri Ochiaga on the Nigerian novelist Chike Momah.

In Battling to the End, Benoît Chantre asks René Girard about the origins of his thinking in the midst of French Hegelianisms of the '30s. Girard replies sturdily (in Mary Baker's fine translation) that he fought like a demon against being classed as a neo-Hegelian. If we try to imagine the terms of mimetic theory, [End Page v] the scapegoat mechanism, and l'ecriture judeo-chretienne transcoded through Hegel, we can understand how necessary this early battle was.

Theories are also interdividual, just like we are—consciously so, in the best instances. When Girard invokes Kenneth Burke's idea of "terminological traces" in the introduction for "To double business bound": Essays on Literature, Mimesis, and Anthropology (1978), he is describing the traces left behind of his designs to capture specific audiences (structural anthropologists, Derrideans) more than marking merely passive and unrecognized "influences" from other theorists.

Richard van Oort's essay in this issue answers back to Pablo Bandera's higher estimation of mimetic theory (in volume 14) against generative anthropology. Readers can look back across Andrew Bartlett's ambitious review (in volume 15-16) of Gans's new book The Scenic Imagination (2008), set in the developing context of Gans's major work, to measure the consequences of this discussion.

Now we rest, perhaps. Are we ready for the strong decision called for by Bandera and van Oort to assess and choose between mimetic theory and generative anthropology? There is a less decisive response. These interdividuated theories might have each profited even if each sees only how it is read or misread from close-by, recognizing now the need to clarify features that seemed elementary and given. Or there is Peter Sloterdijk's tongue-in-cheek advice in Theorie der Nachkriegszeiten (2008), where he channels the conflict between the interdividuised France and Germany analyzed in Battling to the End to arrive at the non-decision both Bandera and van Oort refuse: "Macht es wie wir, interessiert euch nicht zu sehr füreinander."

At the end we have reprinted the fine poem, "The Stumbling Block its Index" by Brian Catling, a poet, sculptor, and performance artist now working in video and live work. Catling's poem is an installation on the page as forceful as Kubrick's notorious black monolith, and as pertinent to mimetic theory.

I want to thank the Offices of the Provost and the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, the College of Arts and Letters, and the Department of English for substantial support to the journal, its editor, and my assistant Ji Yun Sul. I am grateful to Sigurgeir Steingrimsson in the Manuscript Department of the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies for his assistance in providing the image on the cover. To see the rest of the Edda manuscript visit the remarkable Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum at [End Page vi]

William A. Johnsen
Michigan State University


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