Won't you open up your eyes to me?
Well, I can make a brand-new reality
That's the power in your soul
And believe in me
Say your prayers
I'm your Silicon Jesus
Down here and everywhere
I'm the Silicon Jesus
I'll give you new duality”
-Silicon Jesus, by Psykosonik. 1993.
René Girard (1923-2015) is a French philosopher best known for his theory on mimic theory and desire.
"Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others in order to make up his mind. We desire what others desire because we imitate their desires."1
Girard was keen on the effects of neoliberal capitalism and it’s influence upon human psychology. As consumer culture and subculture flourishes from authenticity, we only desire what other people desire. The same action could be understood with epistemology and education itself. We are not alien individuals that can rely solely on ourselves. We are animals, and we need to learn about the world through actions and behaviors.
Since the inception of the internet and the virtual reality it has created, we know mimetic internet users, or pen pals, we never met in person. Cartoon avatars and YouTube videos entice us to change our opinions and ideology around fashion and peer pressure. Girard believe the only way we could stop this consumer atheism was through the belief that Jesus Christ, and through other similar monotheistic religious leaders, is a moral image to emulate, and thus humanity would improve upon itself. Girard created a new form of Christianity that does not rely on the Bible or supernatural belief, akin to what Baruch Spinoza did with Ethics.
But is memetic theory really about the further advocation of religion in a technological future? Jesus does not become real within Girard, but becomes a Silicon Jesus, or, a “Jesus” of the virtual imagination.
Blogger Benedict Cryptofash wrote several criticisms of Girard’s theories on Twitter.
“[Ron] Desantis spent too much time quoting Girard in his announcement. And not enough on the needs of the multiracial working class. "Mimetic desire" is a real problem but it's not going to put food on the table.”2
“What is the origin of the Rene Girard fad? I never heard this frog's name in my life and suddenly every Compact Magazine fan gets hard at the thought of him. Even Ben Burgis's brother has built a career off this craze.”3
Ture, there is a right-wing to Catholic obsession with René Girard. It certainly stains his name like MxPx is to pop punk, knowing well they began as a “Christian” band. It’s the lame aspect that mimetic theory might very well be a trojan for Christianity in a space of Marxist critical theory. Why can’t mimetic theory stand on it’s own, without influence from the Republican party?
The image of Jesus becomes Silicon, in that Jesus is not a real, physical entity. It is a virtual avatar we look after and emulate through the use of social media. Rather than striving to do good, we become the thing we worship. That isn’t to say we become Christians, but create a new form of religious idolatry that will accelerate a new transhumanist god.
Jason Reza Jorjani made similar remarks in his 2020 work, Prometheism. Transhumanism isn’t so much something that will destroy humankind, but can be used to create a new god, realizing a true sense of Nietzschean nihilism in the 22nd century. The Silicon Jesus becomes the Übermensch, shifting away from Christian idealism, and into the values and praxis as the main focus. Transhumanism will create the supernatural instead of relying on the passive belief that “there must be” powers above the human. Humanity will create Silicon Jesus through technology.
Already we are seeing early stages of this development. A synthesis between Girard and Friedrich Nietzsche is happening. Instead of being completely atheistic, humanity is becoming believers of a Promethean power, set forth by Jorjani. In this new duality, belief coincides with action. Technology is the forefront of progressive thought. What was once thought of supernatural, becomes real through human invention.
The endless dreams of utopias all rest upon the Silicon Jesus. It is a Jesus devoid of Christianity, and filled with the passion of creative fiction. The object which we desire negates idolatry, and the religion becomes real. This challenge will, in part, attack those who stubbornly believe in old world supernaturalism. The agonistic belief, “if there is a god, I’m not so sure if he is real,” is put to the test. Silicon Jesus is real, and no longer a monotheistic deity, but a plurality of urges and desires in rhizomic fashion. What is monotheistic is a spirit. It is a spirit that can only exist through technology and beyond.
Outside of Christianity, mimetic theory is an important concept to understand a future world based upon fleeting desires and creative motivations. Nicolás Gómez Dávila once said that “modern history is the dialogue between two men: one who believes in God, [and] another who believes he is a god.” If a correct synthesis is to happen, both concepts happen at once, where we are all gods believing in a plurality of political ideologue, that is, the Silicon Jesus in question,
Like the Depeche Mode song, we all have a Personal Jesus to rely on. If there is going to be a discussion on Post-Girard theory, like the ideas of a “Post-Left,” the orthodox understanding will be thrown out, and the new memetic ideas shall become synthesized with transhumanist thought and liberalism.
The first step in understanding this criticism, however, is understanding Silicon Jesus, the projected desires and models that will become center to all political thought and artistic manifestos. Religion becomes a subjective consumer culture trend, and orbits the large system of Prometheism. Girard didn’t want us to become Christians again, but instead gave us a new Jesus made of wires, microchips, and transistors.
- Girard, "Generative Scapegoating", in Robert G. Hammerton-Kelly, eds., Violent Origins: Walter Burkert, René Girard, and Jonathan Z. Smith on Ritual Killing and Cultural Formation, p. 122.