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  Dante and the Divine Imagination

Scholarship Posted by <Virbius> on Thursday May 31, @10:20PM
from the Alighieri-allegory-allegation dept.

This article from //Christianity Today// was sent to me by a good friend, and I enjoyed it very much.

Many people mean many different things by the use of the words “Christian” or “Christianity,” but if I replace what I mean by them with every use of those words in the article, it's pretty good overall. I argue with one key principle, expressed near the end, that there is a dichotomy between “moral purity” and “manly excellence,” that a choice needs to be made between one and the other, that “It is impossible to reconcile Christian virtues with the pagan ideal of the warrior-hero.” Bullshit. We need them both.


I also somewhat doubt that Dante would ask to “forgive him his images.” I think that this kind of thinking is an example of what John, Peter and Jude were decrying in reference to “Gnosticism,” namely, the separation of Body and Spirit, that Spirit is good, Matter is evil. The body and all so-called “evil” things are really good. Eating, fucking, shitting, sorry, they are all good. Tell me shitting isn't good when you get bowel cancer.

Some other key points from the text:

“…the principles that shape the images of the Divine Comedy, even if vehemently denied, still answer to something deep within the human consciousness. And it is the principles, not the images as such, that really matter.” [Art has an amazing capacity to change and transform individuals and society, regardless of their acknowledgment of the change.]



“The form and structure of the Divine Comedy symbolize unity and completeness. The numbers three (for the Trinity), four (for man), and one (for final unity), as well as the “perfect” number ten, are omnipresent.” [I don't have a problem with this, I am a student and follower of Kaballah – Judaic “divine mathematics,” but I am only half surprised to find this here. I find “Christians” to be very hypocritical about this sort of thing… they use it freely when it supports “their view” of Christianity, but when arguing another's view, suddenly this is “Numerology” or “Witchcraft.”]



“Pythagoras is reputed to have said the world was created by number.” [Pythagoras fucking rocks!]

Enjoy!



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The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.


**Re: Dante and the Divine Imagination**
by <Xnoubis> on Friday June 01, @11:43AM

I can't exactly go along with either of these two assertions:

God as Dante envisions him is no petty tyrant or vindictive divinity, as some cursory readers have concluded. Nor is Dante, writing as a political exile, a bitter curmudgeon gleefully assigning his friends to heaven and his enemies to hell.

Dante doesn't think of his depiction of God as petty or vindictive, but that's certainly how he comes across. And Dante does indeed perform those curmudgeonly assignments many times throughout the course of the Comedy. His greatness as a poet needn't blind us to his ordinary human limits.

And what is this?

One should not assume, however, that it is a great theological treatise buried within a curiously medieval narrative or an intellectual puzzle to decipher.

Um, it certainly is a theological treatise, among other things: a synthesis of Neoplatonic and Christian doctrine. (I've heard it said that Dante derived his cosmological scheme from Avicenna, though I've never researched it myself.) There was a movement at one time to canonize Dante. If it had succeeded, the geography of the Comedy might well have become Catholic dogma!

As far as “It is impossible to reconcile Christian virtues with the pagan ideal of the warrior-hero,” it may not be impossible, but pointing out the contrast between these two roles was for me the most insightful aspect of the article. Every value system has its image of the perfected life: Odysseus, Jesus, Howard Roark…

One of the cool things about Crowley was that he was the source of a teaching, yet he left no room for the impression that his life was a model of perfection.


Shoot the messenger, but keep the message\\
by Shasu Ma'akheru on Saturday June 02, @02:03AM
One of the cool things about Crowley was that he was the source of a teaching, yet he left no room for the impression that his life was a model of perfection.\\
\\

I suspect that was deliberate, both by Crowley's individual choice and through the foresight of the Secret Chiefs. As badly as the world got burned by the last round of messiahs and prophets, someone must have thought it would be a good idea to pre-empt any potential cult of personality by choosing a prophet who would be at least objectionable even to his most ardent admirers.\\
\\

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|Re: Shoot the messenger, but keep the message\\
by cri hoor 217 on Saturday June 02, @04:00PM
|

…hmmm, that was one more of the more interesting comments on a comment i have seen on here, the first comment was\\
jot on, but i suspect it was laying around in the commenters mind for some time collecting aeonic\\
fine grain dust for quite a long loop of the dynamic spiral, anyhoot!…the co-comment from the above( what a lovely name) really captures the\\
spirit of the thelemic leap of fire, i suspect myself that the above postperson has some inkling on a psychic level as to the deeper meaning that that\\
'SOMEONE implys…just a hunch!\\
\\
also a thought on the “ardent admirers” vein\\
just a notion, but i am suspecting that perhaps sometimes it is a fluke or a quirk, or some accident, or i mean with the above above, comment in mind as to, (clearing throat) “christian virtues as apposed to ( clearing throat again) manly warrior -hero(pagan)…that what one would admire in Crowley is that even though he adversed 'chriatian virtue'( I mean does any thelemite really give a hoot about that?) i mean virtue is virtue, christianity does not have any monopoly on\\
on the word virtue; that even though AC turned the whole notion of that on it's head, and also he was a very “manly man” but he was androngynous and a paragon of 'controled chaos' a jack of all trades,\\
at least he still has that kind of mysterious aura\\
that a thoroughly modern man, as Rimbaud said “one must be absolutly modern”..Crowley WAS a poet!he was!!!\\
and so his tangled frayed bit rot kaliedoscope image seems to be a prehensible virtual reality; durabale\\
lovable, and still he also inspires fear and loathing among the entrenched throng of true believers…and there are still a few kinks in\\
the seams of his magickal legacy…'at least objectionable'..at least!\\
\\

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|Re: Shoot the messenger, but keep the message\\
by <Mordecai> on Thursday June 28, @01:04PM
|

Nice try on the part of the Chiefs, but far too many of the Crowleyans I've met accept his misogyny and crackpot political ideas at face value while by their actions rejecting his “real” message, of the gods within/without, and of thinking for oneself.\\
\\

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**Re: Dante and the Divine Imagination**
by Mark Shekoyan on Friday June 01, @02:51PM

As a poetic work, the divine comedy is a work of high refinement. It is however, a contextualized work deeply embedded in a value system which doesn't completely mesh with my own.

What is interesting to me in Dante is the archetype of descent as a pathway to heavenly ascension. In alchemical fashion, Dante must journey to the lowest circle of hell in the voyage torwards union.

In my own alchemical process of self integration I found both Dante's Inferno and the Paradisio synergized nicely with my reading of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Both provide their own cultural “Maps” of after death states in which one experiences various phenomenon in the stages of ones's refinement.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead has its own “Hell Bardo” as harrowing as Asmodeous pit, but with the significant difference.

The Tibetan perspective on the various phenomenological states of heavenly and hellish experience is that they are all intermediary states of mind that arise from lack of understanding of the underlying emptiness of all phenomenon.

These states are also impermanent and subjective to change with the growth of one's awareness. There is no eternal damnation in Tibetan Buddhism, though the Hell Bardo may feel like eternity. Anyone who has experienced a serious bad acid trip can relate…

Dante's vision, as beautiful in texture and metaphor as it is, concretizes the afterdeath state in a cultural model resting largely on his own particular Italian Christian, Neoplatonic Renaissance worldview.

Though I may grant that various stages of pain and pleasure(Trials and Tribulations) if you will may be part of the process of the
spirit/soul/self's perfectability, this process cannot be embedded in any particular worldview, nor can in be concretized and essentialized as such.

The largest difference between Dante's perspective and the Tibetan Buddhist perspective in my opinion, is the notion of emptiness.

Its far from a light topic, or maybe its the lightest topic around! In essence, all of the phenomenon Tibetan Buddhism articulate in its graphic visions and descriptions of levels, deities, and experiential states are thought to be “empty” of any permanent and separate existence.

Though The “Hell Bardo” may exist in the mind, it ultimately rests on our own karmic tendencies and mental habits which can be “Cleared” on the way to total realization of the emptiness and bliss of the clear light of the void.

Had Dante understood this would he have assigned mercenaries and prostitutes to eternal torment in the layers of his vision, and would he have solidifyed a heavenly hiearchy of angels which had no chance to move from their fixed places in the cosmic choir?

I would like to think we have a little more room to move both up and down Jacobs Ladder.

What do you think?

93 93/93

Mark


**Re: Dante and the Divine Imagination**
by cri hoor 217 on Friday June 01, @03:12PM

…just a point about Jacobs ladder, and or ladders period, it just so happens i have been
reading a book called 'The Cosmic Serpent DNA
and the Origns of Knowledge' by Jeremy Narby

and in there he talks about ladders in the DNA sense, but also in the sense that Shamans use them
to access the niether world, the connection is no coincedence…

as the origins of knowledge, language and DNA all fit together nicely…when understanding is at the root of phenomonen, and not restriction…

Beatrace!


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|Re: Dante and the Divine Imagination\\
by Mark Shekoyan on Friday June 01, @04:12PM
|

Genetic Engineers: Playing with the biologic codes of life\\
\\
Magicians: Playing with the Linguistic Codes of Reality.\\
\\
Genetic Magicans.\\
\\
Magical Engineers.\\
\\
Its fun to know nothing is set in stone in the quantum foam!\\
\\
Its intersting that Sheldrake sees morphogenetic fields as only “Habitual” tendencies of nature.\\
\\
Language gives pattern and form to the void.\\
\\
As lofty as the logos may be, its rests on the silence.\\
\\
Peace, Om Shanti,\\
\\
Mark\\
\\

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**Re: Dante and the Divine Imagination**
by <Virbius> on Wednesday June 13, @09:33AM

I notice no one commented on the fact that Pythagoras absolutely unequivocally fucking rocks. Am I to take that to mean that no one agrees, or that everyone assumed it was an unspoken certainty? Shall we discuss Pythagoras now, and the relevence or irrelevance to the writing of Dante, particularly the Divine Comedy?

Love is the Law, Love under Will


Re: Dante and the Divine Imagination\\
by <Xnoubis> on Thursday June 14, @12:14PM
I think part of the reluctance to comment on “Pythagoras fucking rocks” is that it causes cognitive dissonance on about the same scale as “Led Zeppelin was an important formative influence on the development of Neoplatonism.”\\
\\
Pythagoras was tremendously important; I wish that more information about him had survived to our time. (Real information, as opposed to the Iamblicus biography.) But I don't have a lot more to say about him.\\
\\
I'm still interested in the idea of the changing image of heroes. Beyond the ones I've already mentioned, how about the pluralistic hero? Gandhi might be an example. And the systems science hero? Buckminster Fuller comes to mind, or for me even more clearly, Stafford Beer (now he's rock opera material). And the 'frontiers of experience hero': John Lilly, Timothy Leary, our own AC. The movie Altered States would almost make a 'frontiers of experience' heroic epic, if the ending didn't backpeddle so badly.\\
\\

Re: Dante and the Divine Imagination\\
by <Virbius> on Friday June 22, @07:30AM\\
Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries….\\


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|Re: Dante and the Divine Imagination\\
by <Xnoubis> on Friday June 22, @09:18AM
|

Nothing wrong with cognitive dissonance, man. Where would we be without it? NARF!\\
\\

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  The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.


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