This project has preoccupied me for months now: the experiment of a novel that would test the power of Girardian mimetic theory to explain to young people a wide range of modern ills – from the global threat to the environment to violence of all kinds – including school bullying.
The project arose out of a realisation that were I still in the classroom I would be proposing that we do often unconsciously absorb the desires of others – as a tool to explain such events as the assassination of Julius Caesar, the burning of Joan of Arc, the World Wars of the 20th century, the Cold War – and the Troubles of Northern Ireland.
Would it have been feasible to do so? Do young people already notice ‘unconscious copying’ as a dominant feature of human behaviour, and even as a potential source of conflict?
The second crucial factor heading me in the direction of fiction was the simple fact that my classroom days are over. Now in my seventies I am retired from formal teaching – but very much committed still to what lies behind all teaching: the task of maintaining a living tradition of insight into so much of what ails us, and especially of passing that insight on to young people concerned for the future of the planet.
So could I write a story that would have eleven-year-olds stumble upon the significance of our human weakness for adopting the desires of others, and then have them argue their case in their own school context?
I have tried to do that, in any case. It is for young people themselves to tell me if I have succeeded. My very first young readers of a late draft have been enthusiastic, but I have no way of knowing how representative they are.
As I was obliged to self-publish this story, the initial retail cost of the paperback version on Amazon is too high. I am setting out to make copies available soon at what they cost me, ordered in quantities at a discount. I will update this page to log progress in this attempt.