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Ähnlichkeit und Entstellung. Mindere Mimesis und maßgebender Anblick bei Platon und Walter Benjamin

Friedrich Balke

Pages 261 - 283

Mimesis originally does not signify the imitation of things or actions, but refers to a representation in a dancing performance accompanied by song and music. Before Plato judged it according to its adequacy to ideas, it functioned as a fundamental medium of changing the self and becoming another in the context of religious cults. The article inquires into the continuing influence of a mimesis aiming at self-transformation under the conditions of the paradigm of ‘imitatio’. As will become evident, Plato’s rejection of unlimited mimesis is based on the distinction of objects worthy or unworthy of representation which results in the formation of a ‘minor mimesis’. In the twentieth century the anthropologization of mimesis as a human faculty, which Aristotle already referred to in his theory of learning, is seized by Walter Benjamin and defended against its pedagogical instrumentalization. With reference to selected passages of Benjamin’s ‘Berlin Childhood around 1900’ the article illuminates in how far the hyper-mimetic compulsion towards similitude realizes the very moment of ecstatic selftransformation, which is characteristic of the original mimesis, as a complete assimilation to another or as a form of self-concealment.


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