Are we chasing others' dreams or chasing our own?
I am here sitting in a cafe in some street in Bangalore and talking to a friend. Our topic → Desires. We are telling each other about things that I really want to do in my life. Somethings included in that were climbing great Peaks, doingthe Iron man Triathlon, and more big ones.
After the conversation, I start reading about Desires and how they occur. More or less trying to find out the source of my own desires.
This gets me to Memetic Desires. Mimetic desire means that we make many of our choices according to the desires of others.
Think about the last thing you bought on your own without anyone’s recommendation or any kind of bias. Did you question your choice of buying it? Did you start thinking that you made a terrible choice as soon as you bought it? Most people will agree with this and it’s not just with buying, it’s actually true with anything that has multiple options to choose from.
Desire always needs something to latch onto, it could be people, it could be social proof, etc.
WE SEE VALIDATION IN OUR DESIRES
René Girard who is considered to be one of the first to talk as well as come up with the Memetic Theory of Desires. He came up with this by reading through Shakespeare and he realized the traits, features, and nature of people from the way the Fiction was written.
This desire that is based on third parties or other people is what Girard calls ‘The Romantic Lie’.
Shakespear always used to write with characters who are desirable. He knew that desires are Memetic and he would always write in characters that are Models for desires for other characters which means they were Mediators who would mediate the value of a person/something to someone else.
Desire is unique to humans in this sense. Animals don’t have the ability of abstraction, which means they can’t want things beyond their immediate world. Humans, on the other hand, have learned to want the most obscure and trivial things.
In humans usually we desire the other human more than we desire the thins. These models that we create for ourselves are what guide/controls our desires.
These desires are mostly path dependent and mostly we will get some different place once we achieve them, but at that time we will have a different state of mind and have a different desire altogether. This continutaiton is called the Flywheel of desire.
Understanding how desires are cumulative and how one desire will lead to another is a way through which anyone can get a good understanding of how to approach putting these desires down for an individual's life. Spiraling down a positive path from one to another desire is great, which essentitally means that you get to do things in a sequence like a habit.
An example could be your daily routine. But it’s important to know what there is a possibility of a negative spiral where, for example, your routine doesn’t fall through for some reason. This awareness can help in making intentional decisions so that the Flywheel is always positive.
The scary thing about Mimetic Desire is that we start replicating things that our model is doing. This creates an endless need of desire that we need to get closer to our model. But let’s say we reach our model what then? That is where people start thinking that they probably made a bad choice of choosing that model.
So how can we refrain from this? Well, the best thing to tackle this is to question why you want the things you want at all. Being intentional(coming from another article I wrote) is the best thing that we can do to understand and consciously think about our desires.