Friday, April 2, 2021

Simone Weil on force

I started thinking about these sentences this afternoon:

To define force — it is that x that turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing. Exercised to the limit, it turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him. Somebody was here, and the next minute there is nobody here at all.

Simone Weil, The “Iliad,” or the Poem of Force, trans. Mary McCarthy (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill, 1956).
Force can take the form of a knee on a neck or a vehicle aimed at human beings in uniform. It can be directed against a person or a community. It can be the work of a lone wolf, as we now say, or a larger group, or the state.

One need not be a believer to be thinking these thoughts on Good Friday.

comments: 2

Daughter Number Three said...

On turning people into things, I give you Matt Gaetz and his sharing of nude photos of women on the floor Congress. This thread on Twitter made me think of your post.

Michael Leddy said...

A useful reminder of what it means to objectify. That part of the Gaetz story made me think of the way someone might show off a baseball-card collection. And of the way so much toxic masculinity is about performing for other men (recall that Kavanaugh’s friend was in the room with him).

I am curious to see how high up the players in the Gaetz story go.