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Simone Weil
“The supernatural greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering but a supernatural use for it.”
Simone Weil

Simone Weil
“The notion of obligations comes before that of rights, which is subordinate and relative to the former. A right is not effectual by itself, but only in relation to the obligation to which it corresponds, the effective exercise of a right springing not from the individual who possesses it, but from other men who consider themselves as being under a certain obligation towards him. Recognition of an obligation makes it effectual. An obligation which goes unrecognized by anybody loses none of the full force of its existence. A right which goes unrecognized by anybody is not worth very much.

It makes nonsense to say that men have, on the one hand, rights, and on the other hand, obligations. Such words only express differences in point of view. The actual relationship between the two is as between object and subject. A man, considered in isolation, only has duties, amongst which are certain duties towards himself. A man left alone in the universe would have no rights whatever, but he would have obligations.”
Simone Weil, The Need for Roots: Prelude to a Declaration of Duties towards Mankind

Simone Weil
“The mind is not forced to believe in the existence of anything (subjectivism, absolute idealism, solipsism, skepticism: c.f. the Upanishads, the Taoists and Plato, who, all of them, adopt this philosophical attitude by way of purification). That is why the only organ of contact with existence is acceptance, love. That is why beauty and reality are identical. That is why joy and the sense of reality are identical.”
Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

Simone Weil
“We have to believe in a God who is like the true God in everything except that he does not exist, since we have not reached the point where God exists.”
Simone Weil
tags: god

Frank Kermode
“I hope I have now made it clear why I thought it best, in speaking of the dissonances between fiction and reality in our own time, to concentrate on Sartre. His hesitations, retractations, inconsistencies, all proceed from his consciousness of the problems: how do novelistic differ from existential fictions? How far is it inevitable that a novel give a novel-shaped account of the world? How can one control, and how make profitable, the dissonances between that account and the account given by the mind working independently of the novel?

For Sartre it was ultimately, like most or all problems, one of freedom. For Miss Murdoch it is a problem of love, the power by which we apprehend the opacity of persons to the degree that we will not limit them by forcing them into selfish patterns. Both of them are talking, when they speak of freedom and love, about the imagination. The imagination, we recall, is a form-giving power, an esemplastic power; it may require, to use Simone Weil's words, to be preceded by a 'decreative' act, but it is certainly a maker of orders and concords. We apply it to all forces which satisfy the variety of human needs that are met by apparently gratuitous forms. These forms console; if they mitigate our existential anguish it is because we weakly collaborate with them, as we collaborate with language in order to communicate. Whether or no we are predisposed towards acceptance of them, we learn them as we learn a language. On one view they are 'the heroic children whom time breeds / Against the first idea,' but on another they destroy by falsehood the heroic anguish of our present loneliness. If they appear in shapes preposterously false we will reject them; but they change with us, and every act of reading or writing a novel is a tacit acceptance of them. If they ruin our innocence, we have to remember that the innocent eye sees nothing. If they make us guilty, they enable us, in a manner nothing else can duplicate, to submit, as we must, the show of things to the desires of the mind. I shall end by saying a little more about La Nausée, the book I chose because, although it is a novel, it reflects a philosophy it must, in so far as it possesses novel form, belie. Under one aspect it is what Philip Thody calls 'an extensive illustration' of the world's contingency and the absurdity of the human situation. Mr. Thody adds that it is the novelist's task to 'overcome contingency'; so that if the illustration were too extensive the novel would be a bad one. Sartre himself provides a more inclusive formula when he says that 'the final aim of art is to reclaim the world by revealing it as it is, but as if it had its source in human liberty.' This statement does two things. First, it links the fictions of art with those of living and choosing. Secondly, it means that the humanizing of the world's contingency cannot be achieved without a representation of that contingency. This representation must be such that it induces the proper sense of horror at the utter difference, the utter shapelessness, and the utter inhumanity of what must be humanized. And it has to occur simultaneously with the as if, the act of form, of humanization, which assuages the horror.

This recognition, that form must not regress into myth, and that contingency must be formalized, makes La Nausée something of a model of the conflicts in the modern theory of the novel. How to do justice to a chaotic, viscously contingent reality, and yet redeem it? How to justify the fictive beginnings, crises, ends; the atavism of character, which we cannot prevent from growing, in Yeats's figure, like ash on a burning stick? The novel will end; a full close may be avoided, but there will be a close: a fake fullstop, an 'exhaustion of aspects,' as Ford calls it, an ironic return to the origin, as in Finnegans Wake and Comment c'est. Perhaps the book will end by saying that it has provided the clues for another, in which contingency will be defeated, ...”
Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction

Simone Weil
“I had never read any of the mystics, because I have never felt called to read them. In reading, as in other things, I always attempt practical obedience. There is nothing more favorable to intellectual progress, for as far as possible I do not read anything except for that which I am hungry in the moment, when I am hungry for it, and then I do not read … I eat. God mercifully prevented me from reading the mystics, so that it would be evident to me that I had not fabricated this absolutely unexpected contact.”
Simone Weil, Waiting for God

Simone Weil
“Force is as pitiless to the man who possesses it, or thinks he does, as it is to its victims; the second it crushes, the first it intoxicates. The truth is, nobody really possesses it.”
Simone Weil, War and the Iliad
tags: force, war

Simone Weil
“The right use of the exercise of the will is a condition of salvation, necessary without a doubt, but remote, inferior, very subordinated, purely negative. Muscular effort pulls up weeds, but only the sun and water can make wheat grow. The will cannot produce any good in the soul. The efforts of the will are only in place for accomplishing specific obligations. Wherever there is no specific obligation, we must follow our natural inclination or our vocation, which to say the commandment of God. The acts proceeding from inclination are evidently not efforts of the will. And in acts of obedience to God, we remain passive. Whatever pains might accompany it, whatever deployment of activity might be apparent, they produce nothing analogous in the soul to muscular effort. There is only expectant waiting, attentiveness, silence and immobility through suffering and joy. The crucifixion of Christ is the model of all acts of obedience.”
Simone Weil, Waiting for God

Simone Weil
“God rewards the soul that focuses on Him with attention and love, and God rewards that soul by exercising a rigorous compulsion on it, mathematically proportional to this attention and love. We must abandon ourselves to this pressure, and run to the precise point where it leads, and not a single step further, not even in the direction of what is good. At the same time, we must continue to focus on God, with ever more love and attention, and in this way obtain an even greater compulsion — to become an object of a compulsion that possesses for itself a perpetually growing portion of the soul. Once God’s compulsion possesses the whole soul, one has reached the state of perfection. But no matter what degree we reach, we must not accomplish anything beyond what we are irresistibly pressured (compelled) to do, not even in the way of good.”
Simone Weil, Waiting for God

Simone Weil
“Nearly everywhere – often even when dealing with purely technical problems – instead of thinking, one merely takes sides: for or against. Such a choice replaces the activity of the mind. This is an intellectual leprosy; it originated in the political world and then spread through the land, contaminating all forms of thinking. This leprosy is killing us; it is doubtful whether it can be cured without first starting with the abolition of all political parties.”
Simone Weil, On the Abolition of All Political Parties

Simone Weil
“The beauty of the world is the tender smile of Christ to us through matter. He is really present in universal beauty. Love of this beauty proceeds from God and descends into our souls and goes out to God present in the universe. It too is something like a sacrament.”
Simone Weil, Waiting for God

John Eldredge
“Simone Weil was absolutely right- beauty and affliction are the only two things that can pierce our hearts. Because this is so true, we must have a measure of beauty in our lives proportionate to our affliction. No more. Much more. Is this not God's prescription for us? Just take a look around.”
John Eldredge, Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers

Simone Weil
“The sum of the particular intentions of God is the universe itself.”
Simone Weil

Simone Weil
“Beauty captivates the flesh in order to obtain permission to pass right to the soul.”
Simone Weil

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity. -Simone Weil”
Louisa Thomsen Brits, The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well

Simone Weil
“One must always be prepared to switch sides with justice, that fugitive of the winning camp.”
simone weil

Simone Weil
“History is a tissue of base and cruel acts in the midst of which a few drops of purity sparkle at long intervals.”
Simone Weil, The Need for Roots: Prelude to a Declaration of Duties towards Mankind

Simone Weil
“Culture is an instrument wielded by professors to manufacture professors who when their time comes, will manufacture professors. ”
Simone Weil

Simone Weil
“In any case, when I imagine baptism as the next concrete act toward my entry into the Church, no thought troubles me more than separating myself from the immense and afflicted mass of unbelievers. I have the essential need — and I think I can say the vocation — to mingle with people and various human cultures by taking on the same ‘color’ as them, at least to the degree that my conscience does not oppose it. I would disappear among them until they show me who they really are, without disguising themselves from me, because I desire to know them to the point that I love them just as they are.”
Simone Weil, Waiting for God

Simone Weil
“The poison of skepticism becomes, like alcoholism, tuberculosis, and some other diseases, much more virulent in a hitherto virgin soil.”
Simone Weil