Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Quote from Simone Weil: Thoughts on Beauty


Simone Weil, Awaiting God: A new Translation of Attente de Dieu and Lettre à un Religieux. Translated by Bradley Jersak (2012, Abbotsford, Fresh Wind Press)





"The beauty of the world cannot be attributed to matter itself. It is a relationship of the world to our senses—those senses that come from the structure of our bodies and our souls. The ‘Micromegas’ of Voltaire—a thinking infusorian organism [an alien], could never access that beauty with which we feed ourselves in the universe. In a case where such beings did exist, we would need to have faith that the world would also be beautiful for them, but it would be a different beauty. Anyway, one must have faith that the universe is beautiful on every scale; and more generally, that there is a plenitude of beauty relative to the physical and psychic structure of every thinking being that exists—and in fact, of all possible thinking beings. It is this same concordance (agreement) of an infinity of perfect beauties that give the beauty of the world a transcendent character. Nevertheless, what we experience of this beauty was destined for our human senses.The beauty of the world is the cooperation of divine wisdom and creation. ‘Zeus made all things,’ said the Delphic oracle, ‘and Baccus perfected them.’ This perfecting is the creation of beauty. God created the universe and his Son, our First-born brother, created beauty for us. The beauty of the world is the tender smile of Christ to us through matter. He is really present in universal beauty. Love of this beauty proceeds from God and descends into our souls and goes out to God present in the universe. It too is something like a sacrament.Such is the only universal beauty. Aside from God, only the whole universe in its entirety can properly be called beautiful. All that is in the universe and less than the universe can be called beautiful only by extending this word beyond its strict significance to those things that are indirectly part of beauty, that are imitations."(p 67)