Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Aimless Reading: The W's, Part 8 (Simone Weil)

The Iliad or The Poem of Force
Weil, Simone
The Iliad or The Poem of Force

Purchased online, I think. Or at Talking Leaves...Books. I remember having a little bit of trouble finding this book. Susan Howe suggested that I put this on my orals list, the exact same one mentioned in yesterday's post.

It's sometimes interesting to see how books ordered in a specific way, i.e., alphabetically by author's last name, and removed from the shelf one at a time, sometimes reveal unexpectedly meaningful relations.If I were to order my books by subject matter, these two might very well end up next to one another. To see them end up that way seemingly at random might strike the mystical-minded among us as meaningful. I am not one of those, though I do take pleasure in the coincidence.

This is more essay than book, thus the chapbook format in which it is published. 'Pendle Hill' is the name of the publisher. It's a powerful reading of Homer. I'd put it right up there with Horkheimer and Adorno's reading of The Odyssey in Dialectic of Enlightenment.

from The Iliad or The Poem of Force

The true hero, the true subject, the center of the Iliad is force. Force employed by man, force that enslaves man, force before which man's flesh shrinks away. In this work, at all times, the human spirit is shown as modified by the very force it imagined it could handle, as deformed by the weight of the force it submits to. For those dreamers who considered that force, thanks to progress, would soon be a thing of the past, the Iliad could appear as an historical document; for others, whose powers of recognition are more acute, and who perceive force, today as yesterday, at the very center of human history, the Iliad is the purest and the loveliest of mirrors.

To define force–it is that x that turns anybody who is subject to it into a thing. Exercised to the limit, it turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him. Somebody was here, and the next minute there is nobody here at all; this is a spectacle the Iliad never wearies of showing us...

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