Reflections on Dante’s Divine Comedy
Thursday, 4 Nov 2021
Half way along the road we all must take,
I found myself lost in the dark wood…
The Divine Comedy is a retelling of the creation myth, for the creation myth is also an individual myth of emergence from the hell of innocence and unknowing. It is also a retelling of the mystery of the Resurrection, about being lost and found, about dying to the old life and being born to the new, about the Passion.
He was lost in a dark wood, where he, like the plants and animals about him did not observe nature, but rather was in it and of it, indistinguishable from it, porous to it, one with it; that is until the balm mud and spittle applied by Beatrice.
A chance encounter between two people can have implications for eternity. (Francois Mauriac)
For humanity to be distinguished from the plants and animals, life must be carved actively out of the forest or the brambles of nature will return.The same applies to the individual; life must actively be carved out, or oneness will envelop him. The same applies to the race.
The radical application of Dante’s work to everyday living was teased out by Georges Sorel:
. that creativity is the defining characteristic of being human;
. that there is no rational harmony in the world;
. that the proletariat is the carrier of true moral values;
. that there is no inevitable teleology of history, only the (unpredictable) outcomes that can be achieved through struggle;
. that to live is to resist, and
. that ceaseless struggle is the necessary precondition of emancipation.
© John Dunn.