Horror Transfigured: Force Drama and World’s Beauty According to Simone Weil

Rodolphe Olcèse read

This text, dedicated to the thought of Simone Weil, aims to show how misfortune and the experience of horror are the extreme consequence of an immoderate exercise of force, understood as one mode of the natural necessity. The purpose of Simone Weil’s reflections on human distress is to show that misfortune, by sharpening our faculty of attention, opens the way of its own excess.


Homer: The Very Idea

James L. Porter read

Homer, the great poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey, is revered as a cultural icon of antiquity and a figure of lasting influence. But his identity is shrouded in questions about who he was, when he lived, and whether he was an actual person, a myth, or merely a shared idea. Rather than attempting to solve the mystery of this character, James I. Porter explores the sources of Homer’s mystique and their impact since the first recorded mentions of Homer in ancient Greece.

Homer: The Very Idea considers Homer not as a man, but as a cultural invention nearly as distinctive and important as the poems attributed to him, following the cultural history of an idea and of the obsession that is reborn every time Homer is imagined. Offering novel readings of texts and objects, the book follows the very idea of Homer from his earliest mentions to his most recent imaginings in literature, criticism, philosophy, visual art, and classical archaeology.

University of Chicago Press, October 25, 2021

“Contesting Immigration Detention: St. Augustine & Simone Weil on use of Force”

Dr. Anna Rowlands watch

St. John’s University, CRS Global Campus Committee

What is la force in Simone Weil’s Iliad?

D.K. Levy read

Weil’s essay on Homer’s Iliad contains a philosophical analysis of la force that divides it into two phenomena with one metaphysical ground. Her analysis is a corrective to misunderstandings of force as something that can be possessed. The first half of my elaboration of Weil’s analysis is devoted to the phenomena she identifies in relation to la force, which I call might. In the second half, I elaborate the varieties of misunderstanding of la force. First, might is an illusion sustained by the shared belief of those in submission to might. Second, forces, i.e. the material forces on which weaponry depends, cannot be possessed. Third, what lies behind material forces is necessity, a third meaning of la force, which functions as a superordinate or ultimate force to which everyone and everything is subject. Understanding the last of these is the corrective that Weil means to present.

Philosophical Investigations, vol. 43, nos. 1-2, pp. 8-18.

“The Colonial Frame: Judith Butler and Simone Weil on Force and Grief”

Benjamin P. Davis

in Sophie Bourgault & Julie Daigle, eds., Simone Weil, Beyond Ideology?, New York: Palgrave Macmillan pp. 125-142

The Play’s the Thing: On Simone Weil’s Venice Saved

Ronald KL Collins read

Excerpt: With Venice Saved, yet another of Weil’s unfinished works is resurrected, and happily so. Early on, Albert Camus recognized in Weil a great mind that wrestled, as did his, with fundamental problems of the human condition. And so he arranged to publish 11 of the first Weil books to be released by Gallimard. There was also Gustave Thibon, who culled portions of her journals and organized them topically, and with a Catholic bent, in Gravity and Grace (La Pesanteur et la grâce). Others followed suit in piecing together her writings on topics ranging from colonialism to mysticism and from political philosophy to physics.

Enter Silvia Panizza and Philip Wilson, who are the first to translate into English Weil’s three-act tragic play, including eight pages of revealing extracts from the author’s notebooks that sketch out her ideas about the direction of the play, which was almost complete. Panizza and Wilson also add explanatory commentaries and endnotes to fill in a number of the blanks left open by Weil. In most cases, these notes are quite insightful and helpful. Sometimes, however, the editors’ scholastic asides distract from the main focus of the play (e.g., on the question of whether Weil was a “feminist” or whether her views match up with Sudhir Hazareesingh’s “five characteristics of French thought”). Even so, their translation and admirably researched presentation of Venice Saved fill a gap in the Weil literature and contribute much to the mosaic — at once philosophical, political, and mystical — of her legacy.

Los Angeles Review of Books, August 28, 2019.

Sacrifice Between West and East: René Girard, Simone Weil and Mahatma Gandhi on Violence and Non-Violence

Wolfgang Palaver read

Wolfgang Palaver In this chapter, Wolfgang Palaver looks at developments in Rene Girard’s later work, in particular, at Girard’s assessment that he had earlier unfairly “scapegoated” sacrifice in an effort to rid humanity of violence. In recognition of the need to address — not erase — the violence that is with us, Girard developed his thinking in at least two ways. The first is his growing interest in how an “ontology of peace,” which Girard held undergirds all faith traditions, is expressed in non-Christian faiths. Second is his insight that Jesus’s death on the cross tells us not only about the evils of sacrifice-as-murder but also about the productive possibilities of sacrifice-of-self, giving for the sake of others. To explore what such donative sacrifice consists in, Palaver investigates the theories of oppression, resistance, and sacrifice in the works of Simone Weil and Mahatma Gandhi.

in in Marcia Pally, ed., Mimesis and Sacrifice Applying Girard’s Mimetic Theory Across the Disciplines, Bloomsbury (2019), pp. 37-50