Journal, October 14, 1976 PM

I finished the “Inferno” today at work. As I was reading through the final Cantos, it struck me what Dante had attempted. He tried to combine the poetic and the literal into a single unity, and along with it incorporate the pre-Christian literary tradition into the Christian worldview (while completing & enriching this view). He finds places for Homer & Virgil in his “odyssey” and for their monsters, demons and heroes within his Christian hell.

For Dante, poetic justice and literal justice are one. The archbishop who let a man starve is gnawed upon for eternity by that man, etc. However, he wouldn’t have agreed with Kurt Vonnegut’s idea that evil is that part of all of us that wants to hate with God on our side. He, with “Virgil’s“ encouragement, actually berates, threatens and then slyly tricks a sinner frozen in the ice of hell’s last pit. He even pulls out some of his hair! Apparently, Dante thought hating with God on your side was all right, even a sign of virtue. I prefer Vonnegut!

Perhaps Dante realized, who knows, that the power of the Bible was largely in its virtue as a literary work. Whoever may have written it, it converted the learned because it was convincing, dynamic literature. In any case, Dante (within the stylistic paradigm of his day) set out to write a powerful work, a masterpiece of symbolism, integrating the pagan literary tradition into medieval Christianity, and did it. No poet or writer takes pen in hand today, it seems, who has not first read and appreciated Dante. His “Inferno” is repeatedly quoted and alluded to.

I took my advanced physics book to work too. I read up a bit on relativity today. There is simply nothing for me to do at work; I feel so guilty!

We heard the Yankees beat the Royals in a pre-World Series playoff tonight. Yankees and Reds will be in the Series, starting Saturday. A whole bunch of PCVs {Peace Corps Volunteers} came to listen to the game. Peter Brooks brought his Sharp 2500 radio, great reception for such a little one! Only one glass was broken, though we went through many bottles of Regia beer.

When everyone had gone, Jaime {Olson} sat down to write in his diary. Conscientious Jaime began his diary when he entered Peace Corps, has kept it up, and plans to end it when his Peace Corps service is over. Life is so straightforward and logical for some people.

No comments: