attention – defined (08.12.16)


simone weil, quoted below from waiting on god (originally published as l’attente de dieu, la colombe, paris 1950) . . .

attention consists of suspending our thought, leaving it detached, empty & ready to be penetrated by the object.  it means holding in our minds, within reach of this thought, but on a lower level & not in contact with it, the diverse knowledge we have acquired [of] which we are forced to make use.  our thought should be in relation to all particular & already formulated thoughts, as a man on a mountain who, as he looks forward, sees also below him, without actually looking at them, a great many forests & plains.  above all, our thought should be empty, waiting, not seeking anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object which is to penetrate it.  all wrong translations, all absurdities in geometry problems, all clumsiness of style & all faulty connection of ideas . . . all such things are due to the fact that thought has seized some idea too hastily & being thus prematurely blocked, is not open to truth.  the cause is always that we have wanted to be too active; we have wanted to carry out a search . . . ”

this singular definition of a rather pedestrian word (from the introduction no less) has me speechless . . . i am going to sit with this for a while (& of course finish the book simone weil: an anthology / edited by sian miles / published grove press, ny, 1986)