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Caillois_Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia

Caillois_Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia

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Mimicry and Legendary PsychastheniaAuthor(s): Roger Caillois and John ShepleyReviewed work(s):Source:
October,
Vol. 31 (Winter, 1984), pp. 16-32Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 17/01/2012 16:18
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MimicryandLegendaryPsychasthenia
ROGERCAILLOIS
translatedby JOHNSHEPLEYPrendsgarde:ajoueraufantome,onledevient.From whatever side oneapproaches things,the ultimateproblemturnsoutin the finalanalysisto bethat ofdistinction:distinctions betweentherealandtheimaginary,betweenwakingandsleeping,betweenignoranceandknowl-edge,etc.-all ofthem,inshort,distinctionsinwhich valid considerationmustdemonstratea keen awareness and the demandfor resolution.Amongdistinc-tions,there isassuredlynone more clear-cut than thatbetween theorganismand itssurroundings;atleast there is noneinwhichthetangible experienceofseparationismoreimmediate. Soitis worthwhile toobserve thephenomenonwithparticularattentionand,withinthephenomenon,what iseven morenecessary, giventhepresentstate of ourknowledge,istoconsider itsconditionaspathology(theword herehavingonlyastatisticalmeaning)-i.e.,allthefactsthatcome under theheadingofmimicry.For some timenow,forvariousandoftenundesirablereasons, these factshavebeentheobjectofthosebiologistswith aheavy predilectionfor ulteriormotives: some dream ofprovingmetamorphosis,which,fortunatelyforthatphenomenon,restsonotherfoundations,1others,theclear-sighted providenceofthe famousGodwhosebountyextendsover thewhole ofnature.2Undertheseconditions,a strictmethod isessential.First ofall,itisim-portantto list thesephenomenaveryrigorously,forexperiencehas shownthatthere are toomanybadexplanationspushingthemtowardconfusion. Itis alsonot a bad idea toadoptas muchaspossibleaclassificationthat relates tofactsand not totheirinterpretation,since the latterthreatens to bemisleading,and
1. AlfredRussellWallace, Darwinism,London,1889.
2.L.Murat,Les merveillesdu mondeanimal,1914.
?EditionsGallimard
 
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