It may be that vice, depravity, and crime are nearly always, or perhaps even always, in their essence, attempts to eat beauty, to eat what we should only look at.
Thus Simone Weil in Waiting for God. Quoting Weil in an interview with The Other Journal, Barbara Brown Taylor comments:
To learn to look at things instead of devouring them is to discover how quickly the feeling of deprivation can turn to liberation instead. Every time I say no – to more stuff, more speed, more activity, more food – this great big space opens up in my life. … If the church is meant to embody an alternative way of life, then what better witness could there be than a community that decided to live on less in order to live more richly? That sounds like the kind of truth that could make people free.
Anne Carson’s essay, ‘Decreation: How Women Like Sappho, Marguerite Porete and Simone Weil Tell God’ (in Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera), offers some intriguing thoughts on love, the self, God etc., while at the same time engaging in interesting ways with the three women mentioned in the title. She quotes Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace) as saying:
God gave me Being in order that I should give it back to him. … God allows me to exist outside himself. It is for me to refuse this authorization.
Having read Weil’s Waiting for God a little while ago, I am quite tempted to add Gravity and Grace to my burgeoning reading list as well.
Carson also quotes Marguerite Porete, who says of God that ‘His Farness is the more Near’. Carson comments:
I have no idea what this sentence means but it gives me a thrill. It fills me with wonder. In itself the sentence is a small complete act of worship, like a hymn or a prayer.
Porete’s phrase captures the tension of divine transcendence and immanence well, but I also love the way Carson expresses her fascination with it. On the same theme she once again quotes Weil, who remarks that ‘God can only be present in creation under the form of absence’.
Here, finally, is another Porete quote, this time expressing her apophatic theology:
For everything that one can tell of God or write, no less than what one can think, of God who is more than words, is as much lying as it is telling the truth.