Scott D. Moringiello
Scott D. Moringiello is a Lawrence C. Gallen fellow in the Humanities at Villanova University, where he teaches the Augustine and Culture Seminar and courses in the theology department.
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This is only my third post on the Commedia, but already a little community has formed in the comments. (Of course, I encourage more people to share their thoughts!) To encourage this community, I want to build on two comments I found particularly helpful in my last post. These comments help set up a discussion on how Dante sees his own poetic work, which I think he stresses in these cantos.
Our discussion of the Divine Comedy continues over at Verdicts.The link is here.
In a recent post on dotCommonweal, Robert Imbelli discussed Charles Taylor's term "excarnation," which Imbelli glosses as "the avoidance or denial of those dimensions of humanity that threaten our sense of being autonomous individuals." I have not read all of A Secular Age, but Imbelli's discussion has helped shape my thinking on Inferno Cantos 7-12. After all, one way to think about the seven vices that chart Dante's journey through hell is that each vice becomes progressively more excarnated. In the name of making us more autonomous, sin ends up dividing us from ourselves.
It's always worth thinking about context and expectation when we encounter books, especially books that our culture has deemed important or great. Reading Dostoevsky is something very different from reading a recipe. But I think reading Dante is even more challenging than Dostoevsky, even than Shakespeare, even than Lucretius or Vergil or Homer. Dante implicates his readers in his journey in a way that few other books do. For me, only the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament or the Quran come to mind as books that are as challenging. Like them, Dante doesnt let us off the hook.
"Out of our midst he plucked the shadeof our first parent, of Abel his son, of Noah,and of Moses, obedient in giving laws,the patriarch Abraham, and David the king,Israel with his father and his sons,and with Rachel, for whom he served so long,as well as many others, and he made them blessed.And, I would have you know, before theseno human souls were saved."Virgil to Dante, Inferno IV, 55-63, Hollander translationI thought this might go well with Michael Peppard's post on
Were it not the Monday of Holy Week, the Roman Catholic Church would be celebrating the feast of the Annunciation today, March 25. Lovers of Dante also celebrate March 25 as the day the pilgrim began his descent into the Inferno. Yes, there is a bit of a scholarly discussion about that, as there is with everything in Dante. In Dante's time, March 25 was considered the anniversary of the creation of Adam, the conception of Christ, and the crucifixion. It also marked the Florentine New Year.
The University of Notre Dame has asked some of its faculty members to comment on the latest news of the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of the Pope's resignation. Professor John Cavadini, a frequent Commonweal contributor, offered these reflections, which I thought might interest dotCommonweal readers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCiJwMRc4co
It's better in Greek. Isn't it always?*
In English, we have the adjective bittersweet. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word can be both a noun and an adjective, although it is primarily used as an adjective to mean, "Sweet with an admixture or aftertaste of bitterness. fig. agreeable or pleasant with an alloy of pain or unpleasantness." But, to continue the metaphor, the bitter taste remains in our mouth far longer than the sweet taste does.
I would hate to sound like Pauline Kael on Nixon or Peggy Noonan on Obama, but could someone please tell me: who loves Lena Dunhams much-discussed HBO show Girls? Or maybe someone could tell me if he or she thinks Girls is worthy of all the hype it has received. I'd settle for anyone who thought the show was compelling. It seems as though all the Very Serious Critics* think Girls has touched the Zeitgeist in some important way. It was nominated for an Emmy Award in the Best Comedy category.