Excerpt: “Eric O. Springsted’s latest book on Simone Weil’s life and thought (it matters to him very much that her thinking is a lived philosophy) tackles the same subject matter again and again, doggedly pursuing the same questions from chapter to chapter. Yet far from being repetitious, this is done with the wisdom of a walker traversing a familiar mountain and finding fresh knowledge and delight in each ascent. There is a practical reason for the repetition: 11 of the book’s 14 chapters are adapted from previously published chapters in edited collections or from journal articles (whose original places of publication are given on pages xv-xvi). Naturally, some of the subject matter, citations used, and even points made recur. But any frustration a reader might feel is mitigated in three clever ways. First, Springsted structures his book into two parts that make a virtue of the similarity between the themes addressed in individual chapters by grouping them under two tightly conceived themes: philosophical and theological thought (Part I) and social and political thought (Part II). Second, for his monograph Springsted lightly edits the start and end of each chapter, erecting clear ‘sign-posts’ that make it seem as though a narrative argument is being sustained and developed from one chapter to the next. Though this may be a trompe-l’oeil, it is so skilfully realized one finds oneself reaching for the painted door handle. Finally, and most importantly, Springsted’s ‘take’ on Weil is so consistent and distinctive that a clear argument emerges in the book that is genuinely greater than the sum of its individual chapters. . . .”
“. . . . In his Preface, Springsted tells us openly that his aim is not scholarly exegesis, but to ‘offer Weil as something like a polestar to help orient our thinking in a time when the spiritual, moral, and intellectual world has become, in Charles Taylor’s word, “flattened”’ (p.vii). The book is a product of a lifetime of close and thoughtful engagement with Weil’s writings in which, to some extent, Weil’s thought and Springsted’s have become intertwined, such that it becomes hard to tease one out from the other. He is a guide with something to share not only with those new to Weil’s thought, but those who have explored her highways and byways on many occasions.”
Philosophical Investigations, 44, no 4 (October 2021) pp. 448-451.
Stephen J. Plant is Dean and Runcie Fellow at Trinity Hall and lectures on Christian theology and on ethics in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge.
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.
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
Patheos, July 22, 2021
Related: Vance Morgan, Weaving the World: Simone Weil on Science, Mathematics, and Love (2005)
Join Resistance Recovery founder Piers Kaniuka and author and scholar Eric O. Springsted as they discuss his new book Simone Weil for the 21st Century. Recorded on July 14, 2021. Eric O. Springsted is a long time scholar of the thought of Simone Weil. He is the co-founder of the American Weil Society and served as its president for thirty-three years. After a career as a teacher, scholar, and pastor, he is retired and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is the author and editor of over a dozen previous books.
Resistance Recovery, July 23, 2021
Related: “A Q&A Interview with Eric Springsted,” Attention.