Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To see a Landscape as it is

Roni Horn, (born 1955) 
Aluminium and plastic 
51 x 1623 x 1222 mm, 250kg 
Tate Modern, London

The line is from 'Gravity and Grace' by Simone Weil (3 February 1909 – 24 August 1943) the French philosopher, Christian mystic, and social activist.

Simone Weil is buried in Brybrook Cemetery, Ashford, Kent. She died in exile as one of the Free French Forces during the Second World War

Pope Paul VI said that Weil was one of his three greatest influences

Albert Camus in a letter to Weil's mother in 1951 wrote:
"Simone Weil, I still know this now, is the only great mind of our times and I hope that those who realise this have enough modesty to not try to appropriate her overwhelming witnessing."
Others greatly in admiration of her and influenced by her were: the politician Maurice Schumann,and  the poets T. S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens

She described the three great experiences on her road towards Christianity

The first was in 1937 in Assisi:
""In 1937 I had two marvelous days at Assisi. There, alone in the little twelfth century Romanesque chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli, an incomparable marvel of purity where Saint Francis often used to pray, something stronger than I was compelled me for the first time in my life to go down on my knees." (Spiritual Autobiography).
In 1938 she went to the abbey of Solesmes to follow the Easter week services. She heard Gregorian chant and was introduced to  the English metaphysical poets, and in particular the works of the Anglican divine George Herbert 

Later that year while  reciting Herbert's poem Love III  she felt Christ's presence. She said of this experience 
"It was during one of these recitations [of George Herbert's poem, Love] that, as I told you, Christ himself came down and took possession of me.... Moreover, in this sudden possession of me by Christ, neither my senses nor my imagination had any part; I only felt in the midst of my suffering the presence of a love, like that which one can read in the smile on a beloved face"
In 1941, she prayed for the first time  by reciting the Our Father in the original Greek.Of this experience she wrote:
"At times the very first words tear my thoughts from my body and transport it to a place outside space where there is neither perspective nor point of view. The infinity of the ordinary expanses of perception is replaced by an infinity to the second or sometimes the third degree. At the same time, filling every part of this infinity of infinity, there is silence, a silence which is not an absence of sound but which is the object of a positive sensation, more positive than that of sound. Noises, if there are any, only reach me after crossing this silence.  
Sometimes, also, during this recitation or at other moments, Christ is present with me in person, but his presence is infinitely more real, more moving, more clear than on that first occasion when he took possession of me.
She wrote on many subjects and her works have inspired many

In Gravity and Grace she wrote:
"“There are four evidences of divine mercy here below. The favours of God to beings capable of contemplation (these states exist and form part of their experience as creatures). The radiance of these beings, and their compassion, which is the divine compassion in them. The beauty of the world. The fourth evidence is the complete absence of mercy here below.” 
Also she wrote:
"“In all that awakens within us the pure and authentic sentiment of beauty, there, truly, is the presence of God. There is a kind of incarnation of God in the world, of which beauty is the sign. Beauty is the experimental proof that incarnation is possible. For this reason all art of the first order is, by its nature, religious.”