Simone Weil’s “The Iliad or the Poem of Force” is a profound exploration of the power of force and the hubris of mankind in attempting to control it to our advantage. Force is inherently destructive, and we risk it overwhelming us when we unleash it upon ourselves. This two-part essay, published in the Cahiers du Sud in 1940 – 41, is every bit as relevant today in all human interactions, from the interpersonal to the geopolitical.
Join us for a discussion of this piece by Professor Emeritus of the University of Notre Dame and renowned Weil scholar Dr. E. Jane Doering and Simona Girugea, Senior Lecturer in of the University Theatre at Colgate University, who adapted this writing into a compelling one-woman dramatization (performed at the library on Friday, October 15). Hosted by Ron Collins, Senior Editor of ATTENTION. The discussion will probe this compelling essay in depth. The conversation will be followed by a reception sponsored ATTENTION.
E. Jane Doering is professor emerita of the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame University. She received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 19th and 20th-century French literature and culture. She also holds a Masters of Education from Goucher College and an M.A. in French Literature from the University of Notre Dame, along with a Diplôme d’études from La Sorbonne, Paris. She received the Notre Dame Kaneb Teaching Award for excellence in teaching. Her books include When Fiction and Philosophy Meet: A Conversation with Flannery O’Connor and Simone Weil (2019), Simone Weil and the Specter of Self-perpetuating Force (2010), and The Christian Platonism of Simone Weil (2014). She has authored over three dozen articles in English, French, and Italian on the multi-dimensional thought of Simone Weil, and delivered numerous talks in the USA, Canada, France, Italy, and Israel. Her professional responsibilities include being a longstanding member in an advisory capacity of the American Weil Society and of the international Association pour l’étude de la pensée de Simone Weil. She is also on the board of advisors of ATTENTION.
Lewes Public Library, October 16, 2021
NOTE: this session is available to attend in-person or through Zoom. You MUST REGISTER and indicate which you prefer.
‘Simone Weil: Performance as an experience of nothingness’ is a new theatre research project by Dr. Tyrone Grima, which explores an approach to theatre-making, inspired by the philosophy and the spirituality of the French mystic, Simone Weil.
The project translates in a practical and experiential manner the insights of the spirituality and the philosophy of Simone Weil, particularly those on art and theatre, to the performative medium. This with the aim of discovering a way of putting into practice the theoretical framework of Weil in theatre-making. Central to the approach is the notion of ‘nothingness’.
Newsbook, June 10, 2021.
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
Theatre artists and philosophers all over the centuries have often pointed out the existence of two levels within every phenomenon; we call this thought “Dualism”. During the last centuries, many have focused on a specific, although the traditional, example of dualism, which envisions a superior, transcendent reality – that is not connected to ours -. The performer can create such a connection, through her work on “verticality”, touching the superior invisible realm, which must then descend back to our everyday dimension. This article analyses one of the main tools used in order to set up a connection between these two dimensions, that is attention, according to in particular to one of the main thinkers of the twentieth century: Simone Weil. In this regard, the author explores the last pedagogical work of French actor and theatre pedagogue Louis Jouvet and the last period of research by Jerzy Grotowski and his pupils, both focused on that “attention” and “descending way”, which works on the same line of what is better known as “Verticality.” In the second part, Campo comments on Weil’s selected passages.
New York: The Feminist Press