Monday, January 15, 2007

Simone Weil, mystic in the primitive state - 2 sites

"Potential mystics, or mystics in the primitive state," said Henri de Lubac, "are scattered in the world. These, above all, are the ones who must be reached" (cited by von Balthasar in "The Theology of Henri De Lubac" 1991, 101). Athos commented that he was not very familiar with Simone Weil. Well, I would like to introduce you to her through 2 sites; the first one starts out with a quote from Flannery O'Connor, and I said to myself, how can you go wrong with that?

"Weil's is the most comical life I have ever read about, and the most truly tragic and terrible." - Flannery O'Connor, letter, 1955

The article concludes with the following 2 paragraphs:

All of which is fine for the individual, but it begs the question "How are we to establish a universal morality and make justice possible?" In "Beyond Personalism," Weil argues that what passes for "justice" in the public sphere is simply a knee-jerk response to cries of pain from "injured personalities." Rights talk, says Weil, is nothing but "a shrill nagging of claims and counter-claims." We need an ideal of justice in which "the universal hope that good and not evil will be done to you" is held sacred. If we truly renounce the power we're able to wield over one another, if for every person there was "enough room, enough freedom to plan the use of one's time, the opportunity to reach ever higher levels of attention, some solitude, some silence," Weil concludes, we'd have a form of justice worthy of the name.

This highly unsentimental approach to justice corresponds to Weil's firmly held belief that sentimental do-gooders are "cannibals" who eat up the gratitude of those they purport to help. It is important for the well-being of he who is helped, she insists, that he understand his helper's motivation as being "not out of pity, sympathy, or capriceŠ not as a favor or a privilege, nor as a natural result of temperament, but from a desire to do what justice demands." Truly moral action, for Weil, is never accomplished because one "should" do this or that, but because one's actions are an anorectic "gesture of purity and loyalty to ourselves."

The second site is a must see site on Weil. (Make sure to check out the numerous pages on this site, almost all of the pages are on Weil.)

The following quotes are from Weil's "Waiting for God."

Simone Weil - "The beauty of the world is at the mouth 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 he loves and is accustomed to, he walks 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. Afterward he will stay near the entrance so that he can gently push all those who come near into the opening" (1951, Waiting for God, pp. 163-164).

Simone Weil – “It is because the will is impotent in achieving salvation that the idea of secular ethics is an absurdity. Ethics only appeal to the will – religion on the contrary corresponds with desire, and it is only desire that saves us.”

Simone Weil - "God has provided that when his grace penetrates to the very center of a person and from there illuminates all his being, he is able to walk on water without violating any of the laws of nature. When, however, a man turns away from God he simply gives himself up to the law of gravity. Then he thinks he can decide and choose, but he is only a thing, a stone, that falls. If we examine human society and souls closely and with real attention, we see that wherever the virtue of supernatural light is absent, everything is obedient to mechanical laws as blind and as exact as the law of gravitation… Those whom we call criminals are only tiles blown off a roof by the wind and falling at random. Their only fault is the initial choice by which they became such tiles."
“The mechanism of necessity can be transposed to any level while still remaining true to itself. It is the same in the world of pure matter, in the animal world, among nations, and in souls. Seen from our present standpoint, and in human perspective, it is quite blind. If, however, we transport our hearts beyond ourselves, beyond the universe, beyond space and time to where our Father dwells, and if from there we behold this mechanism, it appears quite different. What seemed to be necessity becomes obedience. Matter is entirely passive and in consequence entirely obedient to God’s will. It is a perfect model for us. There cannot be any being other than God and that which obeys God.” Waiting for God (pg. 75-76)


Athos said...

Thank you for the quotations from Mm Weil and the helpful websites, Aramis!

Athos said...

I am disinclined to acquiesce - meaning, no - as a poor massketeer, to the hyperbolic assent that Simon Weil was not of sound mind. She sought and find, while writing, several profound truths.

But is is enough for ontological verification?

Ewe be the judge. What ho, me hearties!

David Nybakke said...

This post received a question as to where the quote: "Potential mystics, or mystics in the primitive state," said Henri de Lubac, "are scattered in the world. These, above all, are the ones who must be reached" came from. Well I believe it came from “The Theology of Henri de Lubac” by von Balthasar 1991, 101.