Friday, August 03, 2007

Weil, "School Studies"

[Originally posted to a now defunct Yahoo! Group.]

The second half of _Waiting for God_ consists of essays rather than
letters, and the first two prompted differing reactions. The
essay "School Studies" was brief and thought provoking, suggesting
that "attention" was the key discipline of the student and that the
role of school was to train us to give systematic attention to
whatever we were studying.

While it sounds a bit simple in summary (as does much meditative
stuff), it rang true to me. The ability to turn our minds to
something is a true gift, and it is the essence of the Golden Rule,
which suggests we must imagine what it is like to be in another's
shoes. For that reason, and because of the intense egoism that is
fed by sin, I think "attention" to anything is difficult.

Weil's second letter, on "The Love of God and Affliction" was less
helpful for me; it seemed a bit more abstract and repetitive. That
said, I've had that reaction to devotional literature before, so I'm
not totally surprised. Her descriptions of affliction were poignant
and induced one to compassion.

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