simone weil – imagination which fills the void

simone weil gravity and graceThe imagination is continually at work filling up all the fissures through which grace might pass.

Every void (not accepted) produces hatred, sourness, bitterness, spite. The evil we wish for that which we hate, and which we imagine, restores the balance.

The militiamen of the Spanish Testament who invented victories in order to endure death: an example of imagination filling up the void. Although we should gain nothing by the victory, we can bear to die for a cause which is going to triumph, not for one which will be defeated. For something absolutely denuded of power, it would be superhuman (the disciples of Christ). The thought of death calls for a counterweight, and this counterweight—apart from grace—cannot be anything but a lie.

The imagination, filler up of the void, is essentially a liar. It does away with the third dimension, for only real objects have three dimensions. It does away with multiple relationships.

To try to define the things which, while they do indeed happen, yet remain in a sense imaginary. War. Crimes. Acts of revenge. Extreme affliction.

The crimes in Spain were actually perpetrated and yet they resembled mere acts of boastfulness.

Realities which have no more dimensions than a dream.

In the case of evil, as in that of dreams, there are not multiple readings.*  Hence the simplicity of criminals.

Crimes flat like dreams on both sides: on the side of the executioner and on the side of the victim. What is more frightful than to die in a nightmare?

Compensations. Marius imagined future retribution. Napoleon thought of posterity. William II wanted a cup of tea. His imagination was not strongly enough attached to power to be able to span the years: it turned towards a cup of tea.

The adoration of the great by the people in the seventeenth century (La Bruyère). This was a result of imagination filling up the void, a result which has disappeared since money has been substituted for it. Two base results, but money the baser of the two.

In no matter what circumstances, if the imagination is stopped from pouring itself out we have a void (the poor in spirit).

In no matter what circumstances (but sometimes at the price of how great a degradation!) imagination can fill the void. This is why average human beings can become prisoners, slaves, prostitutes and pass through no matter what suffering without being purified.

We must continually suspend the work of the imagination filling the void within ourselves.

If we accept no matter what void, what stroke of fate can prevent us from loving the universe?

We have the assurance that, come what may, the universe is full.

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* For the meaning of this word (lectures) in the vocabulary of Simone Weil, see later chapter on Readings.
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Excerpted from Simone Weil‘s Gravity and Grace. First French edition 1947. Translated by Emma Crawford. English language edition 1963. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London.

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