This essay studies the connection between attention and redemption in the poetry of Thomas A. Clark. It discusses the possibility of using Simone Weil’s religious philosophy to interpret Clark’s understanding of attention as ‘waiting’. It argues that while there are affinities between Clark and Weil, Clark’s poetic practice also reveals a resistance to the ascetic extremes which attention assumes in Weil’s philosophy. To think through the difference between attention as method and style, the essay then draws on the failures of Descartes’ Meditations in order to argue that only a practical, that is to say, stylistic, engagement with attention will allow for the radical attention that Weil sought but could not achieve.
Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 1–16, and American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 3.
Comparative Civilizations Review, vol. 38, no. 38, pp. 12-36
Excerpt: ” . . . . For Simone Weil the main fact of human life, and the fact which we must not flinch from if we are to find out any truth about it,8 is the fact of affliction. Le Malheur. For her, the centre of Christianity is the passion and the central moment of the passion is the cry of dereliction. The greatness of Christianity, Simone Weil says, lies in its seeking not a supernatural remedy for suffering but a supernatural use for the suffering. Let us see how she conceives this use. Her thought, although we have it in this scattered aphoristic form, is curiously systematic.
Two things strike one immediately about her ‘system’. That it is very austerely dualistic, and that it enunciates with a strange sort of confidence a view of the physical and of the spiritual universe which one might call ‘mechanical.’ The dualism is between La Pesanteur and La Grâce – gravity, this is gravitational force, and grace. All natural phenomena, including psychological phenomena, are subject to ‘gravity’, by which she means that they are subject to ‘natural law’ in the scientific sense. This realm of natural necessity is purposeless; things have causes but not ends. The only sort of finality which we can detect in it is the purposeless finality of the total ordering of natural things. . . . ”
Iris Murdoch Review, (2017), pp. 9-16, preface by Justin Broackes, (BBC broadcast, Oct.18, 1951, 7.40 p.m. on the Third Programme)
— Paul S. Fiddes, Iris Murdoch and the Others: A Writer in Dialogue with Theology, T&T Clark (December 2, 2021) (Chapter 6: “The Void and the Passion: A Dialogue with Simone Weil” & “Coda: With and Beyond Simone Weil: Between Murdoch and Theology”), pp. 155-204.
— Justin Broackes “Iris Murdoch and Simone Weil,” Royal Institute of Philosophy (2018), YouTube.
— Silvia Panizza, “The Importance of Attention in Morality: An Exploration of Iris Murdoch’s Philosophy,” Ph.D. dissertation (2015)