Escaping Farinata's Tomb
Silicon Valley Bank, Political Division, and Unpredictable Opinions
A reminder that I’ll be hosting a Seminar/Salon for paying subscribers on the topic of “Political Atheism” (an enigmatic phrase used by René Girard to refer to writers like Stendhal, Flaubert, and Shakespeare) on March 26 at 4pm ET. We’ll discuss what this idea might mean. Details are below.
I will introduce you to my friend Farinata momentarily.
First things first: today I published an essay in Bari Weiss’s The Free Press weighing in on the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the second largest bank collapse in American history—in particular, the mimetic contagion that contributed to (not caused) its downfall. I hope you consider checking it out.
As a matter of principle—and in keeping with the very spirit of this newsletter—I usually try to avoid following the news cycle here. With that said, the dynamics of the SVB collapse were striking in how much they resembled a mimetic contagion and crisis: there was a first mover, there was a second mover (then, N+1), there was a destructive flywheel effect via social media, and then there were scapegoats.
In this essay, I want to go a bit deeper and talk about convergent vs. divergent thinking, the mimetic process by which opinions are often formed, and finally: the concept of political atheism.