Beneath the Veil of Strange Verses by Jeremiah L. Alberg 2013 5B
I don’t know whether what I am about to write is true. But it seems to me, from reading what Girard’s admirers, such as Alberg, have written, Professor Girard saw through the eyes of that parent, and concluded that, in human evolution, the “tearing the world apart” of infantile mimetic rivalry had to be mitigated. In order to survive, groups had to evolve some cultural mechanism for short-circuiting the escalating violence. That mechanism was scapegoating.
And weirdly, Girard was correct in his diagnosis, because in our realm, the realm of unconstrained complexity (and the realm of all writing, I must add) we are like infants without parents. We do not have immediate experiential access to the “object that brings us into relation”; that is, “the object that we compete to sacrifice for”. So we fight – like those children – over what we imagine that “thing” to be.
Revelation was necessary. Girard was correct in his conclusion that Christianity (emerging from Judaism and Greek Philosophy) provides a unique antidote to scapegoating because it encourages us to recognize the phenomenon.
But even more weirdly, Girard never contemplated the possibility that mimetic rivalry could have been adaptive in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.
Girard saw through the eyes of the Parent. But now, his insight is bound to pass from the Parent into the Laboratory, because, within the cultural physiology of the scapegoat beats the heart of a once adaptive algorithm, the sacrificial lamb, who dies according to “Your Will, not mine”.
Perhaps, an even more potent antidote to scapegoating is the very thing that gives it life.