Mimesis: A Process of Becoming

The term mimesis is derived from the Greek mimesis, meaning to imitate. Mimicry is defined as “the action, practice, or art of mimicking or closely imitating … the manner, gesture, speech, or mode of actions and persons, or the superficial characteristics of a thing”. Both terms are generally used to denote the imitation or representation of nature, especially in aesthetics (primarily literary and artistic media). Michael Taussig (1993) describes mimesis as ‘the faculty to copy, imitate, make models, explore difference, yield into and become Other’. Basically, mimesis describes how the copy draws on the character and power of the original, ‘to the point whereby the representation may even assume that character and that power’.

An example of mimesis that Taussig provides is of a baby growing inside a womb and how this process is underscored by its location in the submerged and constant body of the mother. There is also the dual meaning demonstrated in this example of reproduction as birthing and reproduction as replication’ (1993, 35). A newborn is both a copy of the mother and an entirely new being in and of itself.

References

Puetz, M. 2002 Keywords Glossary: mimesis. The University of Chicago < http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/mimesis.htm&gt;

Taussig, M. 1993 Mimesis and Alterity. Routledge: New York.

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