Architects & Mimetic Rivalry

René Girard, Léon Krier, Samir Younés, Kent Bloomer

Edited by Samir Younés

Humans are imitative beings. The imitation of preferred masters and forms is natural to artists and architects but also the root cause of their conflicts and rivalries, leading to what René Girard has called “mimetic rivalry”. Architects & Mimetic Rivalry is a discussion of the effects of this broad yet unrecognized phenomenon on the architects and architecture of today.

260 x 210 mm

104 pages


ISBN: 978-1-906506-33-9


Subject: Architecture

It is what architects have in common rather than what separates them that is at the root of their legendary quarrels. Architectural identities are shaped by imitating preferred architectural forms and by imitating the identities of their makers. But although imitation (mimesis) is both essential and useful, it has another side, one that makes it a cause for rivalry. Mimetic rivalry occurs because of competition for what is commonly shared, for what is commonly desired. Architects usually explain their rivalry as the result of personal and ideological differences, unaware that the desire to imitate a master becomes the desire to obtain the same forms, the same status. For the first time in architectural literature, this book introduces and explains the idea of mimetic rivalry that many architects experience without understanding its source. Published in collaboration with the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame

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René Girard, Léon Krier, Samir Younés, Kent Bloomer

René Girard is a member of the French Academy and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University. He is a literary critic and philosopher whose work covers critical theory, anthropology and psychology. Léon Krier is a traditional architect, theorist, and educator. Krier is a fervent defender of the city and the countryside against their indiscriminate destruction through monofunctional zoning, and processes of technological development that have transformed architecture into a consumer commodity. Samir Younés is a traditional architect, theorist, and educator. His writings focus on architectural theory, aesthetics, and the intersecting areas of the philosophy of history, cultural philosophy and politics. After studying physics and architecture at MIT, Kent Bloomer received B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees in sculpture at Yale. He has lectured internationally. His professional activities focus on sculpture and large-scale architectural ornament.

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"This unpretentious book of essays blows up the grandiose pretense that architecture can only be performed by supernatural genius-wizards trafficking in self-referential occult metaphysics. It is a compass pointing the direction out of the dark forest of cultural narcissism where so many lost souls wander."
James Howard Kunstler, author of Too Much Magic

"Any group of essays by the likes of Krier, Bloomer, Girard and Younés holds real promise... The discussions herein about mimetic rivalry are a kind of “kindergarten chat” if you will, among clear-headed people who find themselves at a time of architectural confusion in a virtual forest of brambles from which they seek a way out, to cleared ground, where appropriate criteria for evaluation can be restored."
Jaquelin T. Robertson