Metaxu

Sheila Watson as a Reader of Simone Weil: Decreation, Affliction, and Metaxu in the The Double Hook

Kait Pinder read

This article examines Sheila Watson’s interest in the notoriously difficult thought of the French philosopher and mystic Simone Weil. Watson read Weil’s work in English and French throughout the 1950s, especially during the time she spent in Paris in 1955 and 1956. While critics have examined Watson’s Paris journals for her discussion of modernists such as Samuel Beckett and Wyndham Lewis, little attention has been paid to her synthesis of, and response to, Weil’s thought in the same pages. Contextualizing Watson’s revisions to The Double Hook in her sustained reading of Weil, this article argues that Weil’s thought informs Watson’s aesthetic and ethical project in the novel.

The article analyses Watson’s understanding of three central concepts in Weil’s philosophy – decreation, affliction, and metaxu – and offers a Weilian reading of The Double Hook. By resituating Watson as a reader of Weil, the article also highlights the Canadian author’s belonging within a wider circle of women writers in the mid-century who, like Weil and Watson, also demanded unsentimental responses to violence and suffering.

University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 90, no. 4 (Fall 2021, pp. 669-690.

The Lost Futures of Simone Weil: Metaxu, Decreation, and the Spectres of Myth

Matthew J. Godfrey read

Abstract

This dissertation places literature and myth at the suture of two of Simone Weil’s most important concepts: decreation and metaxu. Decreation, or the decanting of subjectivity to become one with God, has become a fixture in Weil scholarship. Yet, the link between decreation and metaxu, the bridges that collapse self and other, has yet to be theorized. This study brings metaxu to the forefront of Weil studies to emphasize its role within the domains of community and culture, thereby signaling its unseen potential to harmonize the political and mystical strains of her thought. I counter decreation’s salvific consolation with metaxu’s radical materialism and its privileging of hybridity, relationality, and metamorphosis. Weil’s writing combines a critique of capitalism (the hegemonic gros animal) with a frequent entanglement of Greek and Christian myth. A discussion of metaxu is brought to bear on literary revisions of classical myths from the 1980s and 1990s, an important peak in capitalism’s global dominance. My work sets into a motion a metaxic hermeneutic to investigate literary revisions of myths of transcendence, but also transcendence as a key myth challenged by late-twentieth-century literature.

In Chapter 1, I outline the importance of metaxu to Weil’s writings on mysticism and locate its roots in Platonic philosophy, Greek Tragedy, and the myth of Prometheus—the subject of her most important (but nearly forgotten) poem. In Chapter 2, I analyze metaxu’s relationship to specific iterations of violence and sacrality in Weil’s “The Iliad: or the Poem of Force” (1939) and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian (1985), which I interpret as an Americanized retelling of Homer’s epic. In Chapter 3, I locate metaxu’s connection to art and neoliberal globalism through Salman Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999). Chapter 4 applies metaxu to issues of metamorphosis and hybridity through Octavia Butler’s Dawn (1987). Butlerdeconstructs notions of mysticism, eroticism, otherness, and species that are to be read against the patriarchal aesthetics of Homer, McCarthy, and Rushdie. By reading these texts together, a subversive and disruptive potential for metaxu will be revealed, one that heralds an important re-reading of Weil’s oeuvre, as well as an ability to reshape the intersection of literature, myth, and mysticism.

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A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Graduate Program in English, York University Toronto, Ontario September 2021

 

Cinema as Metaxu

Anat Pick read

In this article, Simone Weil’s notion of the material world as “metaxu,” an in-between or bridge between this world (gravity) and the absolute (grace), is positioned within the tradition of cinematic realism to consider how the natural world in film functions as a bridge to the supernatural. In this way, the cinema intertwines ecology and theology in ways that are particularly resonant now, at a time of large scale environmental collapse and the search for new values to support human and other lives.

The Jugaad Project