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f o u r The Cross: Simone Weil’s Hyperchristianity God in the Labyrinth Simone Weil was a familiar of caves and labyrinths, at least in her writings. For example, Weil identifies with Antigone, the tragic figure who takes her own life within the hollow of a cave as a show of impassioned obedience to divine law.1 Weil’s theological writings are also markedly inflected by Platonic thought, and it is in particular the image of Plato’s famous cave that at once fascinates and frightens Weil in her notebooks, where she associates the cave with the dangers of wounding and blinding.2 Moreover, in the essay ‘‘Forms of the Implicit Love of God,’’ Weil offers this striking formulation : ‘‘The beauty of the world is the mouth of a labyrinth.’’ She describes a scenario that resonates with Bataille’s conception of the labyrinth: The unwary individual who on entering takes a few steps is soon unable to find the opening. Worn out, with nothing to eat or drink, in the dark, separated from his dear ones, and from everything else he loves and is accustomed to, he walks PAGE 95 95 ................. 16666$ $CH4 10-02-07 14:20:40 PS 96 Ecce Monstrum on without knowing anything or hoping anything, incapable even of discovering whether he is really going forward or merely turning round on the same spot. But this affliction is as nothing compared with the danger threatening him. For if he does not lose courage, if he goes on walking, it is absolutely certain that he will finally arrive at the center of the labyrinth. And there God is waiting to eat him. Later he will go out again, but he will be changed, he will have become different, after being eaten and digested by God.3 The elements of blind wandering, vertigo, and loss of hope in the first half of this passage attest to an affinity with Bataille’s understanding of the labyrinth as the ‘‘drunken space’’ of death, the hopeless and fearful—but also ecstatic and joyful—maze of contradictory affects.4 The previous chapter focused on the different conceptions of the labyrinth for André Breton and Bataille, concluding that Bataille and Weil, in contrast to Breton, seek not to escape the labyrinth, but to be lost in its maze of contradictions. In this connection, I adumbrated a Bataillean fantasy of Weil based on the legend of St. Lazarus. This chapter will elaborate the Weil-Lazarus connection that emerges in Bataille’s novel Blue of Noon, and will claim that Weil plays the role of a daimonic but saintly intercessor for Bataille in formulating an extremist surrealism. This anti-Bretonian surrealism, we will see, is not only indebted to a certain reading of Weil, but coincides with Bataille’s notion of hyperchristianity as embodied by the mystically inclined Weil. Bataille’s decision to withhold publishing his novel Blue of Noon until 1957—more than twenty years after authoring it and more than a decade after Weil’s death—offers important clues to how to read not only the book but also Bataille’s concept of hyperchristianity. In the concluding sections of this chapter, I will take up three quintessentially surrealist terms—chance, dream, and automatism—and demonstrate how Bataille, through his reading of Weil, presses these terms beyond Breton’s conception of them to arrive at an extremist surrealism shot through with a sinister mysticism. In the above passage Weil describes the mystical wanderer in the labyrinth as confronting God in the form of an incomparable danger—that is, as a monster. Indeed, God is experienced as the ravenous Minotaur that inhabits the labyrinth, waiting to devour those who have lost their way. However, like Bataille, who will seek the monster not to slay it, but rather to identify with it—to become it—Weil’s encounter with God in the dark night of the labyrinth evinces a will to be devoured and thereby incorpoPAGE 96 ................. 16666$ $CH4 10-02-07 14:20:40 PS The Cross: Simone Weil’s Hyperchristianity 97 rated into (identified with) the devouring God.5 Denis Hollier comments on this impulse in Bataille in words that could just as well apply to Weil: Bataille ‘‘has no thought of return, he is not worried about getting out, he anxiously desires the Minotaur. When this desired contact occurs he will have to be metamorphosed into his absence . . . where the human being absents himself when he no...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780823247752
Related ISBN
9780823227785
MARC Record
OCLC
794702338
Pages
372
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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