Program (Schedule & Presenter Notes)
Call for Papers
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GASC 2016 Presentation Abstracts

June 17, Friday, Kinjo Gakuin University, Satellite Campus, Sakae

11:30-1:00 Session 1: Generative Anthropology and the Western Canon

John Milton on Free Markets and the Tithing Controversy
Peter Goldman, Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

John Milton opposed state-mandated tithes and in 1659 he published The Likeliest Means to Remove Hirelings Out of the Church, an attack on the corruption in the tithing system. I show that Milton believed that free market principles would cure the abuses caused by state sponsorship of ministers' wages.

René Girard’s Shakespeare
Richard van Ort, University of Victoria, Canada

This paper will examine Girard’s reading of Shakespeare. Most Shakespeare scholars have ignored Girard’s major work on Shakespeare, A Theater of Envy. I will consider the reasons for this inattention. I will also consider Girard’s (rather pessimistic) conception of modernity, which I think helps to throw light on Girard’s conception of Shakespeare. I suggest that Girard’s use of Shakespeare is based on a paradox: Shakespeare is at once a great exposer of the myth of romantic desire yet also a victim of it. The remainder of the paper will explore the consequences of this view of Shakespeare for mimetic theory in general and Shakespeare in particular. With respect to the latter, Girard postulates a "two audience" theory of Shakespeare. With respect to the former, we can see that Girard’s ambivalence toward Shakespeare is symptomatic of his ambivalence toward the aesthetic, which remains an untheorized category in Girard’s core hypothesis.


2:00-3:30 Session 2: Generative Anthropology, Globalization, and the Social Scene

"It’s Not Enough that I Succeed; Others Must Fail": In Search of a Theory of Identification.
Marina Ludwigs, Stockholm University, Sweden

In my presentation, I would like to put side-by-side the theory of Generative Anthropology and the theory of "comeuppance" by William Flesch as two theories of narrative desire and satisfaction. Both express important anthropological insights, and yet they are the opposite of each other, in some sense. Generative Anthropology (and Girardian mimetic theory) connect narrative satisfaction with the protagonist’s obtaining his object of desire (or a peripheral position acceding to centrality), while the theory of comeuppance discovers that witnessing the scene of a transgressor being punished (or an usurper of the center being forced back to the periphery) gives a very satisfactory narrative conclusion to a story. Flesch bases his theory on the study of how animals (but especially humans) track each other’s behavior with their eyes, while the participants of the mimetic triangle enter the fray, actively vying for the desired object. In other words, in the first case, the participants remain on the periphery, while on the other, they compete for the center. I will give some suggestions as to how we could integrate these two models by looking at various theories of identification.

Post-Hierarchical Culture in Media-Based Creative Collectives: Sketching Originary Analyses
Benjamin Matthews, Western Sydney University, Australia

….So full of shapes is fancy
That it alone is high fantastical.
_Twelfth Night

I intend to discuss existing uses of the concept of "post-hierarchy" (particularly in the literature that engages with organisational structures), as it has emerged in the light of the influence of access to globally mediated cultural exchange.

My argument goes along these lines: post-hierarchical culture as it is currently understood is certainly secular, and relies on effective mediation of the implicit sacrality of scenes of culture that harness the potency in emergent patterns of human behaviour made possible by publicly mediated dialogic interaction.

Creative collectives are able to do so by conducting such discourse on public scenes of culture that are digitally mediated via the affordances of a range of platforms. In this way, the liminal quality of the publicly staged conversation can be negotiated, and the dialogue sustained as it is simultaneously recorded to become an indelible record of this/these event/s. Thus, the usual limitations of scale (in terms of the number of participants) and volatility that marks dialogic interaction conducted in the public sphere are disrupted, with the paradoxical effect of destabilising the structures that reinforce hierarchy.

Creative collectives are an incubator for this mode of interaction, and prospectively, microcosmic presentations of what might considered a scalable phenomenon, able to be transplanted to other organisations with structures that currently operate according to hierarchical interaction defined by tradition established during the (presently unfolding, possibly waning) primarily analog, highly localised and destructible discursive epoch.

Scenes of Distress: Reflections on Francis Fukuyama’s "End of History"
Matthew Taylor, Kinjo Gakuin University, Nagoya, Japan

Eric Gans has consistently endorsed Francis Fukuyama’s "End of History" thesis that liberal democracy and free markets constitute the ultimate if not final system of human organization. (Gans is much less indulgent toward Fukuyama’s conjectures about the "last man," from Nietzsche, whose chief problem will be ennui.) While Fukuyama was indeed often persuasive on geopolitics and globalization, I argue that at the societal level his projections are contradicted by demographic and psychosocial trends in Japan. In this context, I also re-consider Fukuyama’s "last man," as an index not of heroism, but happiness.

Fukuyama himself made much of Japan as a kind of advance guard for world historical developments, but Japan’s "bubble economy" was already collapsing when his thesis came out. A continuous period of stagnation and economic insecurity has followed, along with persistently elevated levels of suicide and depression. The widespread psychological distress, excellently documented by Junko Kitanaka (Depression in Japan), has ushered in the trend of mass palliative medication and to some extent redefined the terms of social existence itself. There has also been a rise in social isolation: a substantial number of people are removing themselves from society, or any social interaction at all. Finally, the burgeoning population of the elderly has presented increasingly urgent, even intractable problems of care in a society no longer buffered by the bonds of extended families or traditional associations. Given these demographics, democratic mandates tend more and more to be socialist in nature.

Fukuyama was not wrong to put Japan, and by extension East Asia, at the cutting edge of history, but developments like these call into question the sustainability of his "post-historical" future. Advanced consumer culture seems to manifest a disconcertingly literal interpretation of "last man."


3:45-5:15 pm Session 3: GA, Girard, and Metaphysics

From Dreams of a Spirit-Seer to The Critique of Pure Reason: Kant’s Changing Relations to Metaphysics
Jeremiah Alberg, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan

In this presentation I will explore some of the implications of the changes Kant made in his use of imagery concerning metaphysics. In articles published last year I used R. Girard’s mimetic theory to explore some of the conceptual implications of Kant characterizing metaphysics as a "coquette" in Dreams of a Spirit-Seer (1766). In this writing Kant first defined metaphysics as "a science of the limits of human reason." But Dreams left its readers confused. What followed was approximately 15 years (broken only by the imposed publication of the Dissertation) of struggle with the questions Kant had uncovered in Dreams. I think one step in understanding the First Critique is to take a careful look at the change in the images Kant uses when speaking of metaphysics. So I will summarize the results of my earlier research and use it as a basis for reflecting on this change in the front matter of the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/1787). There Kant refers to metaphysics claim to being the "Queen" of the sciences. In the First Critique Kant wants to explore the validity of this claim.

Ostensive Dreams and Declarative Nightmares
Amir Khan, LNU-MSU College of International Business

Within the internal dialectal workings of the declarative utterance can be found not merely the source of infinity, but from there the source of (some infinite) Being—hence ideas, or metaphysics which lack, according to Eric Gans, an "ethical lacuna." Isolating the nature of this lacuna (which is supposedly restored?) once we are free of metaphysics via asserting the existence of the ostensive utterance is what I am hoping to get at here.

 In short, what does merely proposing the ostensive utterance at the origin of language do? By understanding, say, intellectually, the operative power of the ostensive, are we suddenly more humane, more ethical? Is this all that is required to free us from the dialectical power of the declarative, of metaphysics? What is so dangerous (i.e. anti-ethical) about declarative utterances anyway? Why is Gans so suspicious, for example, of Plato’s "conceptual turn" in the Gorgiasand the Republic


5:30-7:00 Session 4: Generative Anthropology and Origins

Opening a Dialogue between Kinji Imanishi and Generative Anthropology
Andrew Bartlett, English Department, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada

Kinji Imanishi (1902-1992) enjoyed an illustrious career in Japan as a public intellectual – biologist, anthropologist, scientist, mountain climber. He has in recent decades gained some recognition in the West as the founder of the globally influential Japanese school of primatology. Untroubled by human-animal dualisms and defiant of Darwinian dogma, Imanishi and his students used techniques from the outset that have since become standard in primatological research, in field work carried out years before the rebel Jane Goodall tried them out (to the scandal of orthodox behaviorists). Imanishi's hugely popular 1941 text Seibutsu no Sekai (The World of Living Things) was translated into English in 2001. Focusing on that book, I hope to introduce Imanishi to Western conference attendees and, relying on the mediations of Pamela Asquith and Frans de Waal, zero in on some of the ways his work might challenge Generative Anthropology's self-presentation as a universal way of thinking, especially given the anthropology-cosmology opposition fundamental to GA but alien to Imanishi's vision of the world of living things.

Nietzsche as Theorist of Origins
Kieran Stewart, University of Western Sydney, Australia

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate - through the lens of generative anthropology - that Friedrich Nietzsche is first and foremost a theorist of origins; that is, as Gans contends, Nietzsche generates a particular scene of origin. Indeed, Nietzsche’s early work contains much speculation about origins, particularly the origin of language. In the history of Nietzsche scholarship and criticism, this is rarely noted. The concerns at large in his early works permeate the later works, even direct or orient the later works. Therefore, I will offer a principle for reading Nietzsche, a way of seeing his oeuvre as a whole. My reading of Nietzsche, starting from his early period, will demonstrate that his very early ideas on "the instinct of language" and "pure metaphor" are the foundational themes for his philosophy as a whole. There is a double approach in reading Nietzsche, however. The first is to identify how Nietzsche’s later works are oriented by his early theory of the origin of language. The second way of reading Nietzsche is to contrast and compare his work to the work of Eric Gans, who bears similar theoretical posturing’s in terms of understanding the human from first premises.

Gans minimal theory on the origin of the human will be used as a yardstick to Nietzsche’s theory on the origin of language. What is ultimately at stake between Nietzsche and Gans’s divergent ideas on the emergence of language is indeed the question of the ethical. Gans considers language to be the foundation of the ethical. Nietzsche, on the other hand, calls for the suspension of the ethical in order to "produce new metaphors." I will demonstrate that Nietzsche’s earlier works on the origin of language orient his later ideas on morality, religion, science, and so forth.


June 19, Sunday, Kinjo Gakuin University, Main Campus, N2-111

10:00-11:00 am Session 5: Japan in Art, History, and Legend

セッション5 日本の美術、歴史、伝説

Guest Presentations by the Kinjo Occult Research Group

Mastering the Visualization of Heroic Narratives: The Shutendōji Emaki in the Edo period

Aya Ryusawa 龍澤 彩 Department of Japanese Language and Literature, Kinjo Gakuin University日本語日本文化学科 金城学院大学

From medieval Japan, “Shutendōji” tells the story of how Minamoto Raikō and his retainers quelled the tale’s namesake monster. This story was pictorialized as scroll paintings (emaki) or as illustrated books. Many daimyō warriors in the Edo period owned such renditions, as did the Owari Tokugawa family, the lord of Nagoya castle, who possessed a number of books and scrolls of the “Shutendōji” narrative. For these warriors, “Shutendōji” was not only fiction, but also a tale of their ancestor’s heroic deeds, as the Tokugawa positioned themselves as the descendants of the Seiwa Genji, as did Minamoto Raikō. Moreover, “Shutendōji” can be read as a myth about a leader who forces deviant figures into submission, as it recalls the existence of sacrificial victims, which Girard states “can be slayed without the risk of retaliation.” From this point of view, those scroll paintings of “Shutendōji” in the collection of Owari Tokugawa family thus acted as tools at that time to confirm their authority and legitimacy for daimyō warriors, or men of power.


The Birth of a Myth: Civil War and Sacrifice in Early Meiji Japan

Kenshin Kirihara桐原 健真

It is often said that the modernization of Japan was a smooth and peaceful transition. However, in fact, the Meiji restoration did not prove to be successful without sparking a huge civil war, the likes of which Japan had not seen in four hundred years. This was called the Boshin Civil War (1868 – 1869), fought between the pro-Shogunate army and the New-government army. After this civil war, with a front extending over the eastern part of Japan, the New-government enshrined more than three thousand fallen soldiers as the tutelary deities of “their own nation” in Tokyo Shōkonsha (the shrine to summon souls), which is now the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. It can be said that they were sacrifices to establish the new régime of the so called "Meiji State." However, there was a stringent rule to sort the souls of dead soldiers, since, as with Valhalla, not all fallen soldiers were enshrined in this shrine. This was the birth of the myth of modern Japan. This paper will describe the construction of this myth by throwing light on the relation between enshrining and using dead soldiers as sacrifices.


The Haunted Mansion and Woman: Otherworldly Apparitions in the Modern Cities of Japan


Shoko Komatsu 小松 史生子

We have an oral tradition, still remaining in various parts of Japan, of a haunted mansion called "dish mansion." The ghost of a woman appears night after night at the mansion and brings a curse on the family who cruelly murdered her and threw her into a well at the estate on suspicion of breaking their family heirloom dishes. There is also an urban legend in Tokyo called "the woman of Ikebukuro," which was passed down up to the Showa era until the 1980s. Whenever an unnatural phenomenon occurred at a house, they found that one of the maidservants was a young woman from Ikebukuro in Tokyo. This is a modification of the dish mansion legend. In this paper, I would like to analyze Japanese characteristics of mysteries found within the typology of "woman," "mansion" and "unnatural phenomenon" in order to disclose a narrative of a female sacrifice offered for a family, with reference to Girard’s Violence and the Sacred.



1:00-2:30 pm Session 6: Generative Anthropology and Religious Philosophy of Asia

GA, Buddhism and the Romantics
Ian Dennis, University of Ottawa, Canada

What GA has perhaps most saliently offered students of Romanticism is a way of understanding and analysing the nexus of desire and the aesthetic—hypothesizing a common human experience of these two phenomena and delineating with precision, tracing but limiting, that which cannot and should not be expressed other than as paradox.

In The Philosophy of Desire in the Buddhist Pali Canon (2005) David Webster, in common with many commentators on Buddhism, stresses its pragmatic character, and speaks of it teaching its devotees how they "might become more skilled practitioners of wanting" ( 145). Generative anthropologists may well hear in this rather resonant phrase the human project writ large—certainly the project of any and all of us who seek, who entertain the possibility of human progress. The greatest of all human inventions, the sign, is very precisely a praxis of safer and more productive wanting, a means of accommodating ever more wanting, and more having. More having and more wanting, of course, are not really the terms in which Buddhism’s teachings have typically been framed, to say the least, and to seek to grasp just what kinds of skills Buddhism might be offering is to ask, in effect, whether it can co-exist with, let alone contribute to the ethical development of modernity .

For all its resistance to the market world’s preoccupation with selfhood and identity, though, might there indeed be ways in which Buddhism’s vision of aesthetic contemplation, the posture it offers its practitioners, models an accommodation with modernity-- through ostensible or paradoxical denial-- similar or parallel to that provided by the market defiance or "constitutive hypocrisy" (as Eric Gans calls it) of Romanticism?

Generative Anthropology in the Cosmic Realms of the Mahabharata
Magdalena Złocka-Dąbrowska,
Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Warsaw, Poland

The objective of the paper is to discuss Eric Gans’ views on Generative Anthropology with reference to the Mahabharata - the great Sanskrit epic of the Bhārata dynasty. The Mahabharata offers one of the first instances of theorizing about "just war", illustrating many of the standards that could be debated according to Gans’s universal claims. My analysis will set out from George Dumézil’s studies, whose whole massive output can be taken as a stream of debating language and violence in reference to scenic imagination, including the Mahabharata. I assume that the Mahabharata, viewed as the essence of the Veda, constitutes a cumulative collection of stories, poems and legends which became an example of never-ending series of originary events, mimetic rivalry, destruction of a victim into sparagmos and verbal deferral narratives - all creating essential parts of different aspects of the originary scene. The supernatural beings, divinities, demons and heroes are staged in mythical performances as an "aide-mémoire" of the scenic scenario incarnated in Brahma’s order, as a cognitive constancy of human being. In analyzing Dumézil’s review of this Indian textual tradition one visualizes Gans’ "scenic imagination" present in this cosmic universe from its beginnings.


2:45-4:15 Session 7: Comparative Literature, Religion, and Mimetic Anthropology

Beethoven's Music and Dostoyevsky's Themes: A Curious Mix in A Clockwork Orange
Izumi Dryden and Laurence Dryden, Associates, Institute for the Study of Christian Culture

The best known novel by the twentieth-century British writer and composer Anthony Burgess may be A Clockwork Orange (1962), which remains controversial largely because of its problematic adaptation to a film of the same title (1971) directed by Stanley Kubrick.

As the title of our presentation suggests, Burgess structured his novel with references to Beethoven, his favorite composer, and to Dostoyevsky, whose novel Crime and Punishment Burgess read while preparing to write A Clockwork Orange. Burgess’s preoccupations with the importance of free will in choosing between good and evil resonate within his 1962 novel and indeed throughout much his corpus.

Today we wish to examine the dynamics of these and other cultural elements in Burgess’s novel in relation to René Girard’s study of Dostoyevsky, Resurrection from the Underground.

How to Read Religious Poems Anthropoetically (Using Examples from Gerard Manley Hopkins and Kobayashi Issa)
Edmond Wright, Independent Scholar, Cambridge, The United Kindgdom

In my 2015 paper at the GASC conference I analysed Wordsworth’s Immortality Ode from an anthropoetic point of view. I was inevitably led to trace the source of its justification of immortality beyond its immediate commitment to a divine origin. The reconstruction — if I may call it that, since it is crucially not a deconstruction — attempted to present a justification that retained the power of Wordsworth’s poem, even enhance it for our time, without falling into the trap awaiting that kind of atheist who is unwilling to search in such religious utterance for a motivation we can share without any danger of superstition. There is therefore a key challenge in turning the same spotlight upon so manifestly religious poet as Gerard Manley Hopkins, particularly as he foregrounds his own theological bases in his poems. Specifically there will be an analysis of his notions of ‘inscape’ and ‘instress’, with the sonnet ‘As kingfishers catch fire’ as the prime example. To conclude, the focus will pass to a single haiku written by Kobayashi Issa, one which embodies in the abundance of its ambiguity a parallel power.

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Last revised: June 11, 2016