In the following essay Scott Beauchamp shares with us his reflections on force and grace — two central themes in the thought of Simone Weil. Force as a theme appears in Beauchamp’s experiences as a warrior in Iraq, and again in his meditations on Weil’s reading of the Greek tragedy, Antigone. As for grace, while its shining rays just barely peak through in Sophocles’ play, its presence is far harder to discern on the real-world battlefields of Iraq. This raises a political question. Can that antipathy to force so characteristic of Simone Weil be justified in the real world? After all, in many cases no ready alternative is apparent. Even Weil, for all her pre-WWII professions of pacifism, once Hitler attacked France, she immediately abandoned them. Weil, like Beauchamp, proved ready to put her own life on the line. And so, are we fated to be ‘realists’ who must accept that we live in a world deprived of grace; where past evils lead in a tedious, endless cycle to future evils? That Weil affirmed the existence of grace we already know: but how should that guide us politically? Her answer, as one might expect, is paradoxical: “ … those beings who have, in spite of flesh and blood, spiritually crossed a boundary equivalent to death, receive on the farther side another life, which is not primarily life, which is primarily truth, truth which has become living … ”
This essay first appeared Aug. 7, 2020 in The Point , and is re-printed here with permission.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor