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Girard, Race, and Cultural Desire

A conversion between Coleman Hughes, Thomas Chatterton Williams, and Lester Spence

After reading Girard for nearly ten years, I found myself continually surprised to see how little his theory came into play in conversations about race and race relations—even though it seemed like Girard’s ideas would add critical insights to those conversations. I was never sure why.

Is it because Girard is a white French academic? Because his theory is too obscure? Or because mimetic theory really isn’t helpful in explaining the concrete realities faced by black Americans because it’s too abstract, for example?

It’s a question I wasn’t willing to leave unsettled, or at least not willing to begin exploring. But I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

My friend Dr. Hollis Robbins and I had a conversation back in early 2021 in which she planted the seed in my head that it would be a good idea to try to bring the right people together to kick off this conversation. After months of hard work, it all came together at NOVITATE—a conference which I hosted in DC last month.

The full video from that plenary session on race and cultural desire can be viewed here, as well as a Substack produced, AI-generated transcript (I have no idea how good it is—please do let me know if it’s terrible, though.)

I’ll be sharing more of the videos from the conference in this newsletter for paying subscribers in the weeks and months ahead.

To celebrate Christmas and the start of the New Year, you can become a paying subscribing at a 20% lifetime discount between now and the end of the year—just click the button below and join. Your support of this work means more to me than you know.

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Tomorrow I head to Michigan for a week where I’m going to pull out a pen and paper and begin writing the first words of my next book, which I look forward to sharing much more about.

I am also going to find a way to share the journey of writing this new book—as well as some of its content—with paid subscribers. I think it’ll be a mutually enriching process. I hope you’ll come along on the journey with me. It’s a more ambitious book than Wanting, which pains me even to write. But it’s one that must be written. You will soon know why.

I have to keep this one short because I’m writing it after having woken up early and sneaking away from family time on this Second day of Christmas, and now I find myself in a Starbucks in Pennington, NJ while kids at still back at the house learning how to set-up their new toys. I need to get back into the game.

It’s been a hell of a year. I’m going to write some year-end reflections which I plan to share on either Dec. 31st or Jan. 1st. In the meantime, wishing you all a wonderful nightcap to 2023. Thank you again for being here.



Luke Burgis Newsletter
Luke Burgis Newsletter
Pursuing the mysterium tremendum et fascinans and writing at the intersection of philosophy, culture, art, technology, and religious wisdom.