The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

February 3, 2014

February 3, 1909

Simone Weil (February 3, 1909 to August 24, 1943) was a mystic who wrote from a freshly analyzed viewpoint about the world and its options. Her  many volumes of journals along with the proof of her philosophical industry in books like Gravity and Grace (published in the original French in 1947) evidence a scholarly industry, and yet she insisted on also pursuing work in factories, to discover and share the burdens of the poor of the world. It is possible the demanding work she embraced, despite being so unsuited for it, contributed to her tuberculosis. Her family was safely in New York (they were Jewish) but she was in England in the hospital at the end. The coroner said she committed suicide. I cannot understand how this view is supported. She refused to eat more than the troops were allowed to eat(differing explanations of her refusal to eat are extant). But that does not mean she was trying to kill herself.

“Physical work makes us experience in the most exhausting manner, the phenomenon of finality.”..."[Workers]....need poetry more than bread, and religion alone can be the source of it.” Those quotes are from Gravity and Grace.

From The Notebooks of Simone Weil, Volume 1 (1956) translated by Richard Rees, we find an obscure reference---

Fictitious example: a greedy painter; if he goes blind, he will no longer be anything but greedy. Demetrius.
(The hermit's cat; asceticism can have the same effect.)

I have no idea what this means. The category of notebook jottings is understandably obscure. Yet it is nice to consider a lost moment when a cat on a Parisian street in the 1930s might have rubbed against the ankles of this formidable woman. Her main characteristic may have been that she was  one of the few for whom the gap between thought and action did not exist.

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