Kat Mustatea’s follow-up to Voidopolis , which was just released as an augmented reality book by MIT Press. Ambivaland traces the narrative of Dante’s Purgatorio, with new constraints and algorithms. See her postings on Instagram.
“Concebido como un libro que puede leerse solo, como acompañante a la lectura de La Comedia, como una nueva narración de la historia original o como una interpretación de la misma, el autor parte de una premisa y una frustración: ‘La Divina Comedia cambia vidas’, comienza diciendo en la Introducción y así lo han experimentado lectores desde comienzos del siglo XIV. No obstante, ‘también ha habido lectores inseguros de cómo entender su ingenio’, abrumados ante el desafío de los textos que pueden revelar más vida cada vez que se leen, una vez se encuentra la vía de entrada a su laberinto. El problema es que, en la mayoría de ediciones contemporáneas, Vernon ha encontrado que los autores no están interesados en la obra que, en sus palabras, cataliza una transformación espiritual.
“’El mayor riesgo es tomar La Comedia muy literalmente, como si Dante estuviese hablando de una fácil transferencia a la realidad’. Sí hay un significado literal, reconoce Vernon, pero es la capa superficial del texto que a su vez entraña toda una elaboración metafórica: ‘Y esto es realmente lo que lo confunde a uno, lo reta, las contradicciones. Pero al mismo comunica algo de aquella misma revelación inicial’. El autor también reconoce el carácter alegórico del poema, que se relaciona con las implicaciones morales y el significado religioso de la peregrinación, pero concentra su trabajo en la ‘transformación revolucionaria que ocurre a lo largo del camino, y la manera en el cual Dante describe estos continuos cambios’.
[. . .]
“‘Esto se relaciona también con el amor, que es desear lo que es bello’.” –“Mark Vernon: Dante, Carlos III, las palabras y los significados,” El Exquisito (May 17, 2023)
Read the full interview here (Spanish language; subscription required).
Contributed by Joshua Roberts
“Dante reveals to students the essence not only of their relationship to their teachers, and ours to them, but also of our combined relationship to the reality (natural, human, and divine) studied during their liberal education. The end of a liberal education is an experience of the Love that created both the subjects of a liberal education and the human persons in need of that education, and Dante achieves that purpose. Through truth and virtue, he becomes wise, and his wisdom sets him free.”
“Without ever addressing the point explicitly with students, I can let Dante reveal to them the essence not only of their relationship to their teachers, and ours to them, but also of our combined relationship to the reality (natural, human, and divine) studied during their liberal education. Dante certainly imagined liberal education as constituted by the trivium and the quadrivium—the arts of word (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) and those of number (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music)—as propaedeutic to the study of philosophy and theology, and he imagined poetry, in a work he wrote on the Italian language, De vulgari eloquentia, to be the liberal art combining the consummate art of language and the consummate art of number: ‘Poetry [is] a verbal invention composed according to the rules of rhetoric and music.’ For our purposes, I will hazard a tautology and say that a liberal education liberates. That is, it frees us from error into understanding of the most significant question: How should we live?”
[. . .]
“Virgil’s guidance has been necessary for Dante, but it is not sufficient. His guidance has profound limitations that make it both helpful, given where Dante was, but needing to be surpassed, given where he is going. Imperfect pedagogy, thank goodness, can still save, just not by itself. Students need more than one teacher because of the limits of the master.”
[. . .]
“The relationship between Dante and Beatrice is a suggestive representation of the tendency in pedagogic relationships to confuse the teacher for the thing taught, and to allow one’s shared love of the material to be lost in the distracting presence of the one revealing the material. Guru-ism is a perversion of a truly saving pedagogy—a distortion of a legitimate attraction. Beauty is a salvific distraction, provided the beautiful one reminds us of that which truly saves.” — Scott F. Crider, Public Discourse, August 21, 2021
“I took quite a lot of photos on my phone when I was in Ukraine this year, but this one jumped out at me as I was scrolling through them. Here we have Dante – the Italian poet, philosopher, writer – with his marble head poking up out of the sandbags. It’s in a park on Volodymyr Hill in the centre of Kyiv.”
“It’s not just an arresting image. Dante is a harbinger of the Renaissance; he’s a symbol of culture and learning. And that is the opposite of war, which is a regression to dark times. This is what Ukraine and Kyiv are having to labour under – and so Dante finds himself stifled by sandbags. Of course, one also thinks of the Divine Comedy and the seventh circle of hell, which is violence. That’s what the people of Ukraine have been enduring: a modern circle of hell.”
“The fact that Dante had to be covered with sandbags tells you everything – the Russians are attacking things that are nothing to do with a military campaign. That is a particular hell, when civilians are seen as legitimate targets for an advancing army. And as soon as I see this image, all of this floods into my mind.” –Clive Myrie, The Guardian, December 12, 2022