Divine Comedy (Paradise) Five-thirty comes and we begin the greater climb to Heaven. Alex Stevens points out that if we speak too much about the image, we will destroy the image. So Dante has presented us with an almost terse image in words/song which leaves us wanting no more. We want to experience Paradise for ourselves, but there is no need for more song about it. Dante is getting used to having a better self. He is more himself than ever. Dante has become “trans-humanized.” This is not mere theosis, man becoming like God. This is man becoming more fully man as man was created to be. The end of all human existence is in the Heavens. Dante looks at Beatrice (who is looking eternally at the heavens) and even that makes Dante greater than man on this earth can be. An image of an image of heaven is enough to make a man, a super-man. This is like Vanauken’s “Lady of the Night.” When we see the light of the moon, we see the light of the sun, just in a way we can see. This is Beatrice to Dante. This is my wife to me. This is even the tree outside my office window if I could see clearly. But I must not become too romantic for as Dante plainly states this great trans-humanizing can only take place THERE. Canto XXVIII, 109-111 suggests that the act of seeing comes before love which follows it. You cannot love what you do not see (in some sense). Dante is now ready for the brightest light.Canto XXXIIIClarification of translation of line 25 ff: By thy grace, begs of thee, for such virtue that with his eyes, he might rise still higher toward the ultimate salvation. Line 31: That by thy prayers (Mary) thou wilt disperse every cloud of his mortality, that the Supreme Joy may be disclosed to him.Line 46: Here is the first time Dante uses Eternal Light. To this Dante has directed his eye. Class has reached such an intense moment of seeing that I am beyond being able to take notes. I think this vision, the Christian vision, is so good, so true, so beautiful, that it is worth believing for itself. There is a sight of God that presents Him, the Lord of Inferno and Purgatorio, that is so Adorable that we become simply and totally those who adore. God help me. I would be saved merely to see You. God smiles, because it is good to be God. God looks at Himself and smiles. He smiles and this is the disposition He directs toward the cosmos.It is too easy to see in Dante’s image simply Trinitarian language. First, we must see what Dante sees. Then we might ask how this relates to the Christian Trinity (and I believe it does). But if I am not careful, I will never read a book, I shall simply read the first book I read (the Bible) in every book before hearing what the new book has to say. (My greater danger is to see Plato in every book!) Dante does mix the impersonal imagery of Aristotle with the personal image of Christianity. But is not merely the God of the Bible meeting the God of Metaphysics XII, it is a new image. It is Dante’s vision of God. Dante sees the greatest thing that can be seen. It contains a thing (squaring the circle) that cannot be done with the intellect. In a flash, God gives Dante this solution. The human effigy fits the circle by being moved by love of God in circular motion. However, this flash which brings in its tail adoration is also the end. Dante can no longer speak to us and the poem comes to an end. God is at the center of the cosmos by function. The earth is at the center merely geographically. If it need another death blow, here is a final assault on the absurd modern notion that man in the Middle Ages placed Earth in the center because it was so important. In one sense, man before God is not at rest (though restful), because though he is content he is bubbling over with joy and love. It is now midnight. We are trying to understand how the will, the intellect, and emotions can be one. To do this, we must understand what Dante means by all these terms. I must resist the desire define these terms as I have been taught and examine the text first. Progress is now slow, partly because we are tired, and partly because it is a hard topic. The one thing it does seem we can share intellectual is our ignorance. Someone once objected to Torrey, because it was pooled ignorance. My response should have been, “Exactly. Thank God.” Hopefully, once we discover what we don’t know, then we can learn something. Perhaps, our trans-humanity (knowing God) will allow us to know.
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