First and Last Notebooks: Supernatural Knowledge (Simone Weil: Selected Works) by Simone Weil (PDF)


Ebook Info

  • Published: 2015
  • Number of pages: 386 pages
  • Format: PDF
  • File Size: 3.38 MB
  • Authors: Simone Weil


Introducing the Selected Works of Simone Weil Some of Simone Weil’s most important thinking was done through the medium of her notebooks. She used them in several inter-related ways. First, she used them to note things she had read and was researching. Far more often, they were workbooks where she worked through her ideas. Many of the ideas in her completed essays can first be found in her notebooks, and thus the notebooks are invaluable for adding context and nuance along with a sense of development to the reading of those later essays. Finally, her notebooks simply contain Weil’s aphoristic writing at its best in its most striking presentation. For that reason alone, the last two notebooks, which she wrote while in New York and London in 1942-43, published in French as “La Connaissance surnaturel” (“Supernatural Knowledge”) have been read as books of great wisdom. This volume also includes her first notebook from the year 1934, not long after her time in the factory and its subject matter reflects this period in her life. SELECTED WORKS: First and Last Notebooks: Supernatural Knowledge / ISBN 978-1-4982-3919-6 Seventy Letters: Personal and Intellectual Windows on a Thinker / ISBN 978-1-4982-3920-2 Selected Essays, 1934-1943: Historical, Political and Moral Writings / ISBN 978-1-4982-3921-9

User’s Reviews

Editorial Reviews: Review The reprinting of English translations of Simone Weil’s First and Last Notebooks, Selected Essays and Seventy Letters will be welcomed by the growing number of readers and scholars who are not at home in the original French and who wish to deepen their understanding of Weil’s political philosophy and mystical theology. –Lawrence E. Schmidt, Centre for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto

Reviews from Amazon users which were colected at the time this book was published on the website:

⭐( 1 ) THE PRE-WAR NOTEBOOK spans an unknown period of some six years from 1933 forward. This period starts when Simone had been teaching for just two years and ends with the beginning of the war, and her renunciation of Pacifism.The space between this Notebook and the New York Notebook is covered by two volumes of the Gallimard Marseilles Notebooks I-II, in French. Also this is not Cahiers I-III published by Plon in French 1970-74, published Kegan Paul/Routledge 2004 in English.In her life experience, this period covers a lot of things: trips to Germany and an awareness of Hitler; growing interest in labor unions and Communism; meeting Trotsky; writing articles about labor unions; working in a factory; “fighting” in the Spanish Civil War, a short stay in Portugal, and two trips to Italy.While this was a rich period experientially, it doesn’t appear in the Notebook, which was at this time simply choosing topics and learning how to think about them. Most prominent are the nature of factory work and the conditions of workers.Information about this period is covered more in her letters and appearing in extracts from articles published in Journals. (see SIMONE WEIL – A LIFE by Simone Pétrement, English trans. 1977). Some important essays of this period are contained in Selected Essays 1934-1943, Historical, Political and Moral Writings, trans. Richard Rees, Wipf & Stock,A youthful piece written in this Notebook in 1933, note to self (?) & others, when Weil was 25 appears here:“Learn to reject friendship, or rather the dream of friendship. To want friendship is a great fault. Friendship ought to be a gratuitous joy, like the joys afforded by art, or life (like aesthetic joys).“One must refuse it in order to receive it: it is of the order of grace “Depart from me, O Lord…” It is one of those things that are given “over and above”.“Every dream of friendship deserves to be shattered. [It is not by chance that you have never been loved…] To want to escape from being lonely is cowardice. Friendship ought not to cure the the sorrows of loneliness but to double its joys.“Friendship is not to be sought for, dreamed about, longed for, but exercised (it is a virtue). p.43(2) PROLOGUEThis also appears in Routledge 2004 Notebooks V. II at the end. This copy was given to Thibon in 1942 Weil when departed for New York. It is a scant one and a half pages. It is a delightful parable with dialogue, about a teacher and his student.(3) THE NEW YORK NOTEBOOK (1942) is the middle of three collections in this book. It stands in contrast to the manuscript known as “Letter to A Priest” (1942-43). In contrast, the NY notebook speaks her own faith, whereas later in “Letter” she summarizes her unwillingness to give up her own faith to Catholicism, written in the form of 35 issues she took with the Church.The NY Notebook is continuous (perhaps rambling) jotting, moving the pencil, free-ranging, chasing a kite, watching a leaf in the stream kind of writing, writing a prayer as if reciting it silently to oneself. It is one of her most complete professions of faith. She is her own church- the priest and the believer in one…. but not to confuse her as either being God or Christ speaking, but as oratory, declamation, soliloquy in a notebook, text all moving forward, no revision or erasure, her pencil continuously moving along:“So the living Father has sent me and I live by the Father, and he that eateth me shall live also by me.“This is the bread that cometh down from heaven.“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.“The words I have spoken are spirit and are life.“…as regards the doctrine he will know where it comes from God or whether I speak in my own name.” (p.105)A summary of many summaries: tumbling out of what appears to be a cornucopia of reasoning and expression, moving from declarative speech to sheathes of adulation, much like Martin Luther King’s rhetorical style.In contrast to the above adulation which sounds like Weil’s own scripture, another voice precedes it: more hardened philosophical speech of declaration which addresses the reader directly, the speech she is known for:“God abandons our whole entire being- flesh, blood, sensibility, intelligence, love- to the pitiless necessity of matter, and the cruelty of the devil, except for the eternal and supernatural part of the soul.“The creation is an abandonment. In creating what is other than Himself, God necessarily abandoned it. He only keeps under his care the part of Creation which is Himself- the uncreated part of every creature. That is the Life, the Light, the Word; it is the presence here below of God’s only Son.“It is sufficient that we consent to this ordering of things.“God is absent from the world, except in the existence in this world of those in whom His love is alive. Therefore they ought to be present in the world through compassion. Their compassion is the visible presence of God here below.“When we are lacking in compassion we make a violent separation between a creature and God.“Through compassion we can put the created, temporal part of a creature in communication with God.“It is a marvel analogous to the act of creation itself.” (p.103)(4) THE LONDON NOTEBOOK 1943 was written in the crowded space of Weil’s intense production at the end of her life. All of “Roots”, the finishing of “Letter to a Priest”, “Oppression and Liberty”, “Human Personality”, “Draft for a Statement of Human Obligations”, “East and West: Thoughts on the Colonial Problem” and others.Inanition, or the lack of mental or spiritual vigor and enthusiasm exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment is what Simone was continually subject to, judging by the repeated cyclical exhaustions and recoveries. She seems to have embarked on her last recovery in departure from New York for Liverpool:“The journey was pleasant, A lot of rolling, but nobody on board was seasick. A few extremely cold days, but the ship was heated. No incidents. Agreeable moral atmosphere. Needless to say, I am already in love with London, I was before I arrived. Equally needless to say that I love England.” (“Simone Weil: Selected Works, Seventy Letters, letter #39, December 16, 1942 London” English trans. Richard Rees, Peters, Fraser, & Dunlop, 1965, reprinted by Wipf & Stock)The London Notebook is a scant 29 pages long. One does not wonder why given the amount of other writing she was able to complete.Richard Rees strikes a sour note in his short Preface to Part III (London):“Suicide is doubtfully incompatible with Simone Weil’s philosophy, though it is true that she admired the Catharist “Perfecti” who sometimes died from self-inflicted starvation. In her case, however, I think one can distinguish between deliberately suicidal behavior and behavior she felt obliged to adopt for other reasons while accepting that it might or would prove fatal. She considered as a Frenchwoman in England, she had no right eat more than the official rations of the civilian population in France, and having fallen ill she felt uneasy about eating any food at all while she was unable to contribute to the British war effort. This may be an unbalanced way of reasoning, but it is only suicidal in the sense that it is suicidal to refuse to get into a life-boat in order to leave more room for others.”Bad analogy. Once again I direct readers to put aside Rees, and read Simone’s own words towards the end of the London Notebook, in a short piece:“Indirect method of a crime.“My criminal error, before 1939, concerning pacifist circles and heir activity, was due to incapacity caused by the devastation of physical painful so many years. Being in no state to observe their action at close quarters by meeting and talking with them, I failed to detect their propensity for treason. But could easily have reflected that the state I was in disqualified me from serious responsibilities, and made it obligatory to refrain from them. What prevented me from seeing this was the sin of laziness, the temptation of inertia. I desired so intensely to refrain from that sort of responsibility that I dared not consider impartially the legitimate reasons for refraining; like a seminary pupil tortured by violent carnal desires so much as to look at a woman.“I had so often succumbed to laziness and inertia in small things that when I was faced with something important I felt I must blindly resist the temptation of inertia- instead of coolly examining the possible advantages and disadvantages of action or inaction.“This weakness of not writing a letter, or not making my bed one day when I felt tired, by accumulating in the course of many days, finally led me to the sin of criminal negligence towards my country.“This is an example of a universal mechanism.“Once we have understood how it develops minute personal failings into public crimes, then nothing is a minute personal failing. One’s little faults can only be crimes.“[….] We ought never to cease feeling criminal so long as we lack perfection, and we ought to beseech silently with our whole soul to obtain it, until death puts an end to this torment, or until God’s patience with us is exhausted and he grants us perfection.“[….] all our little faults are really crimes when reason has clearly obliged us to see them as such. Great criminals commit few crimes. We commit many little faults; but that means, when one has learnt to see them as they are, that one commits many crimes every day.“The sole remedy is to suffer this in misery until God takes pity. Because the human will, however one strains it, gets one no nearer perfection.”A little further on:“Parable of the Sower (Luke 8,5). The first category are those who refuse consent. The fourth category are the elect.“The soil contains a certain amount of nourishment for plants, If a large part of it goes to thorns, the wheat cannot grower for lack of nourishment. Similarly, when a great part of the soul’s energy is given to worldly things the eternal part cannot receive the energy indispensable for its growth.“But the way to pass from the third category into the fourth is immediately obvious. It is done by weeding [….] In other words, it is detachment […] all that is clear and familiar.“But what about the second category?“Stone. Thorns do not grow from stones. There are souls which are not interested in the things of this world, but neither have they any energy to put at God’s service; and so they remain sterile.“That is exactly my case.“One might conclude that there are some souls with a natural deficiency which irremediably unfits them for the service of God. And I am one of them.”At this point, she goes on to serve the Free French with the writing of L’Enracinement. Roots…

⭐Simone Weil is a beacon for our times, reminding us that even in the murky world of economics and industrialization where war seems inevitable we still have the ability to contemplate and should practice it.Weil is truly an original thinker on God and her innovations do not stop at theology.

⭐This is a great book for thinkers. It has quotes that make you think . I loved this book. 1


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