Wednesday, June 03, 2009

From The Habit of Being...

I am reading the [Simone] Weil books now, having finished the Letters to a Priest and I am very much obliged to you and will keep these books until you want them. I am struck by the coincidence (?) of title of Waiting for God, and Waiting for Godot—have you read that play, by an Irishman named Beckett? The life of this remarkable woman still intrigues me while much of what she writes, naturally, is ridiculous to me. Her life is almost a perfect blending of the Comic and the Terrible, which two things may be opposite sides of the same coin. In my own experience, everything funny I have written is more terrible than it is funny, or only funny because it is terrible, or only terrible because it is funny. Well Simone Weil’s life is the most comical life I have ever read about and the most truly tragic and terrible. If I were to live long enough and develop as an artist to the proper extent, I would like to write a comic novel about a woman—and what is more comic and terrible than the angular intellectual proud woman approaching God inch by inch with ground teeth?... [24 September 55 to “A.”]

By saying Simone Weil’s life was both comic and terrible, I am not trying to reduce it, but mean to be paying her the highest tribute I can, short of calling her a saint, which I don’t believe she was. Possibly I have a higher opinion of the comic and terrible than you do. To my way of thinking it includes her great courage and to call her anything less would be to see her as merely ordinary. She was certainly not ordinary. Of course, I can only say, as you point out, this is what I see, not this is what she is—which only God knows. But I didn’t mean that my heroine would be a hypothetical Miss Weil. My heroine already is, and is Hulga. Miss Weil’s existence only parallels what I have in mind, and it strikes me especially hard because I had it in mind before I knew as much as I do now about Simone Weil. …You have to be able to dominate the existence that you characterize. That is why I write about people who are more or less primitive. I couldn’t dominate a Miss Weil because she is more intelligent and better than I am but I can project a Hulga. [30 September 55 to “A.”]
Found here and here.

4 comments:

Obie Holmen said...

FYI, I have linked and referenced your blog in a post in my own blog at: http://www.theliberalspirit.com/?p=594

glenmichael said...

Weil .. tragic, complex, cerebral, old school Euro intellectual militant and ideologically driven ideals needing to impose the world with conscience. Weil is top down humanist.. FO'C is bottoms up perspective.. looking up for guidance and from grace.

IMHO two very different perspectives.. but merge on perhaps a shared disregard for self.

Katharine Tillman said...

Hi there. I'm a huge fan of both Flannery O'Connor and Simone Weil, and I was very happy to stumble upon this post and this blog. Thanks for this!

adamFROMohio said...

GREAT BLOG! Thank You.