Yesterday was the last session of PRG (Philosophical Reading Group) for the academic year. PRG meets 2/3 quarters, around a single book. It's open to lots of people but most are grad students and faculty. I've attended sessions on Camus, Genesis and now, Simone Veil, whose really extraordinary essay on Force and the Iliad we were reading last night, along with an essay by Rachel Bespaloff, also on the Iliad.

The question of Achilles' wrath, which Bespaloff refers to as resentment, came up. Afterwards I went on trying to define for myself the difference between anger and resentment. Nietsche, of course, says that resentment is felt when there is an imbalance of power: the weaker party feels resentment. Someone said, during the discussion, that he thought of resentment as petty. That is probably the common perception, but I wonder how true it is.

Jean Amery is his essays about surviving Auschwitz writes at length about resentment, and about how the wronged party in that situation wants / needs to turn back the clock, to somehow efface the wrong. The circumstances there are not petty. Resentment between individuals, but also between nations. The Irish against the English; the Germans after World War I's harsh reparations; Russians today against the US and Europe; Palestine... .