The labor of mimesis

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This article is a preliminary examination of the conception of mimesis as it unfolds in Rey Chow's work. Focusing on Chow's work on film, the article shows how Chow rejects a certain iconophobic imperative with which anti-orientalist critiques come laden, with all of the assumptions about surface/depth, misrepresentation/truth, and myth/reality that attend such iconophobia. Since there is no Archimedean point outside of the "fabulation" of the world, the labor of critique must work at two simultaneous levels that are not related to each other as surface and depth, but rather as an extension of the surface of critique itself: analyze the cultural work done by the image itself; and, by means of this analysis, gain insight into the "condition of possibility for what becomes visible". The notion of mimesis that one gleans from Chow's work is informed by a Heideggerian ontology, but modulated by a Benjaminian materialism. In this light, both the objects of Chow's study and her own reading practices form a continuous circuit within the labor of mimesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-365
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Semiotics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


  • Benjamin
  • Film
  • Heidegger
  • Image
  • Mimesis
  • Postcolonialism
  • Poststructuralism
  • Visuality


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