Platform, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 17-30
The title comes from chapter 4 of Brenna Moore’s new book, Kindred Spirits: Friendship and Resistance at the Edges of Modern Catholicism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2021) pp. 145-171. In it, Moore focuses on the bond between French medievalist Marie Magdeleine Davy (1903-1998) and Simone Weil. Davy and Weil were acquaintances, but after Weil’s death, Davy dedicated significant scholarly attention to Weil’s thought and life. She authored one of the first books on Weil in 1951, lifting her up as a model for a new kind of sanctity in the modern world. In the late 1950s and ’60s, Davy’s projects were animated by what Moore calls an “invisible friendship” with Weil. Spurred on by memories of Weil, in 1962 Davy created an experimental utopian community for international students in rural France, the Maison Simone Weil, in her friend’s honor. As Moore puts it, “Simone Weil, more than anyone else, was Marie-Magdeleine Davy’s invisible friend, her inner guide, and her saint.” The story uncovers one of the many fascinating afterlives of Simone Weil, one that has not yet been told to English-speaking readers.
Both Simone Weil and Ludwig Wittgenstein hold mysticism—i.e., the belief in something utterly transcendent—centrally. The mysticism present in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus presents a problem: if “the mystical” is “deep” nonsense, and there is something important that cannot be sensibly presented in language, we are left in an undesirable situation. The mystical is taken to be of paramount importance but is ultimately inaccessible to reason. Weil, starting with political and theological considerations, arrives at a similar problem. A mystical position yields the “problem of mysticism”: There is the mystical; it is of crucial importance, and it is inaccessible to our reason. Weil’s mystical praxis of decreation is a solution to the problem. This does not present a way that we can come to the mystical, but a way that we can become aware of its revelation, which bypasses our reason.
Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia, MA dissertation.
Abstract: Simone Weil’s dramatic criticism and dramatic writing offer a way of reconceptualizing what it means to engage critically under fascist censorship. This essay explores her closet drama Venise sauvée as an example of her embrace of writing political resistance in a time when classical theatre criticism was absent and artistic resistance had been made futile. Simone Weil called for an awakening in the audience to acknowledge their responsibility of how they let theatre shape their way of thinking about war. I demonstrate that Weilian theatre theory does not only consider the stage an object to be analyzed, but also the very subject through whose lenses one can undertake a critical reshaping of ways to interpret the world. In this dramatic view on WW II Weil exhibits the artistic voices of resistance in occupied France as caught in its own echo chambers and thus no longer perceptible in society. The essay reads her unfinished historical tragedy Venise sauvée and its central motif of the silenced voice of resistance as an implicit warning to the contemporary théâtre resistant to become the agent of its own irrelevance. I propose that beyond this warning there lies a theory of deconstructing propaganda theatre by unleashing the creative power of theatre’s failure, namely via a distortion of the socially synchronized inner and outer stage of the audience.
Platform, Vol. 13, No. 1, On Criticism, Autumn 2019, pp. 17-30
Awaiting God (Fresh Wind Press) combines a fresh translation (by Weil scholar, Brad Jersak) of Simone Weil’s Waiting for God and Letter to a Priest (Attente de Dieu and Lettre un Religieux) in one volume. These works are considered Weil’s primary essays and letters.
In addition, Simone Weil’s niece has contributed an introductory article entitled, Simone Weil and the Rabbi’s: Compassion and Tsedekah, which puts Weil’s relationship with Jewish thought into perspective. She includes source material from the Rabbis that put Weil (however reluctantly) in line with rabbinical thought throughout her major themes.
The book is the ideal English introduction to the works and thought of Simone Weil, including important preface material (by Jersak) on how to read her work, as well as her relationship to Roman Catholicism and Judaism
Table of Contents
• Translator's Preface • Introduction by Sylvie Weil Part 1 — Essays 1. Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies in View of the Love of God 2. The Love of God and Affliction 3. Forms of the Implicit Love of God a. Love of Neighbor b. Love of the Order of the World c. Love of Religious Practices d. Friendship e. Implicit and Explicit Love 4. Concerning the Our Father Part 2 — Letters • Preface to her letters: Weil on Catholicism and Judaism 5. Hesitations Prior to Baptism 6. Hesitations Prior to Baptism 7. Departure from France 8. Spiritual Autobiography 9. Intellectual Vocation 10. Last Thoughts 11. Letter to a Priest