Jennifer D. Upton, The Ordeal of Mercy (2015)

jennifer-d-upton-the-ordeal-of-mercy-2020“The Ordeal of Mercy is a book of wide erudition and simple style; its goal is to present the Purgatorio, according to the science of spiritual psychology, as a practical guide to travelers on the Spiritual Path. The author draws upon many sources: the Greek Fathers, notably Maximos the Confessor; St. John Climacus; Fathers and Doctors of the Latin Church, including St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas; John Donne, William Blake and other metaphysical poets; the doctrines of Dante’s own initiatory lineage, the Fedeli d’Amore; the modern Eastern Orthodox writers Pavel Florensky and Jean-Claude Larchet; and the writings of the Traditionalist/Perennialist School, including René Guénon, Frithjof Schuon, Martin Lings, Leo Schaya, and Titus Burckhardt. Other exegetes of Dante have dealt with the overall architecture of the Divine Comedy, its astronomical and numerical symbolisms, its philosophical underpinnings, and its historical context. Jennifer Doane Upton, however—while preserving the narrative flow of the Purgatorio and making many cogent observations about its metaphysics—directs our attention instead to many of its ‘minute particulars,’ unveiling their depth and symbolic resonance. She presents the ascent of the Mountain of Purgatory as a series of timeless steps, each of which must be plumbed to its depths before the next step arrives; in so doing she demonstrates how the center of this journey of purgation is everywhere, and its circumference nowhere. In the words of the author, ‘The soul in its journey must divest itself of extraneous tendencies and desires in order to become the ‘simple’ soul of theology — the soul of one essence, of one will, of one mind. If it can do this it will reach Paradise, its true homeland.'” [. . .]    –Jennifer D. Upton, Angelico Press

Check out the Angelico Press website to read praise for The Ordeal of Mercy.

Margaret Wertheim on Science and God

“Centuries after Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, contemplated the relationship between science and religion, and decades after Carl Sagan did the same in his exquisite Varieties of Scientific Experience, physicist-turned-science-writer Margaret Wertheim offers perhaps the most elegant and emboldening reconciliation of these two frequently contrasted approaches to the human longing for truth and meaning.

“Wertheim is the creator of the PBS documentary Faith and Reason, author of deeply thoughtful books like Pythagoras’s Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender War and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet, and cofounder of The Institute for Figuring — ‘an organization dedicated to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science, mathematics and engineering’.”

“[Wertheim:] ‘I don’t know that I believe in the existence of God in the Catholic sense. But my favorite book is the Divine Comedy. And at the end of the Divine Comedy, Dante pierces the skin of the universe and comes face-to-face with the love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe that there is a love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe in Dante’s vision.'”   –Maria Popova, “Dante and the Eternal Quest for Nonreligious Divinity,” Brainpickings, 2015

See the full article here.

Illustration by Denis Forkas (2015)

“Study for Hypocrites (illustration for Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri/Inferno, Canto 23), after Francisco Goya after John Flaxman,” 2015

“We found, down there, a people painted bright.
Their tread, as round they went, was very slow,
weeping, worn down and seemingly defeated.”[. . .]   —
Study for Hypocrites, denisforkas.com, 2015

(trans. R. Kirkpatrick)

“The 9 Circles of Marathon Training Hell”

“Running a marathon is a great goal. You accomplish something only a small percentage of the population dares to do. You experience setting out and accomplishing something big. And you get to put that 26.2 sticker on the ass-end of your minivan.

Buuuuuut. Let me tell you something about marathons.

You have to train for them. And training for a marathon is like being in all 9 circles of hell at once…for six straight months.”    —DIS Fit Life, August 5, 2015

“Marcus Berkmann: Circles of Hell”

“‘No, that’s definitely the way you want to go,’ said the same man in the hi-vis jacket, whose integrity we were beginning to doubt. But every route we tried, the satnav eventually led us back to the same roundabout, often by the most circuitous of routes. We had no mobile coverage, so could not raise a map by those means. It was like an episode of The Prisoner. Every wrong turning we took, we expected a huge white barrage balloon to head us off.”    –Marcus Berkmann, The Independent, October 9, 2015

Inferno.Etude – Vartan

“… Vartan, a queer former Orthodox Jew from Chechnya whose sculptures and paintings mostly explore demonic and sexual themes. ‘My work always shows a state of human spirit,’ he tells The Creators Project. ‘Demons and angels, pain and uncontrollable desire, fear and loneliness. The naked body in sculpture represents a spiritual condition. I am not interested in ‘politically correct’ art because it’s boring. Shock, controversy, and honesty. These are the three principles of my art.'”    –Anya Tchoupakov, Vice, November 19, 2015

Shown at left is Vartan’s sculpture Inferno.Etude.

La Divina Commedia (2015) – Paolo Di Paolo

“A 750 anni dalla nascita di Dante, è possibile raccontare ai ragazzi La Divina Commedia? La sfida è stata accolta da uno scrittore come Paolo Di Paolo che, accompagnato dalle splendide illustrazioni di Matteo Berton, ci fa rivivere lo straordinario viaggio di Dante.”    —La Nuova Frontiera Junior, July 30, 2015

Waiting for Dante by Roger Williamson

“It was then she appeared, Beatrice, she who would show me, just in time, the illusion of the beast and the spell to return it to the glass.

Virgil, who was able to bring me into this world but not out of it, because of his own self imprisonment in it, began to fade from view and as he paled so Beatrice seemed to absorb his substance and morphed into my new guide.”    –Roger Williamson, Saatchi Art, October 24, 2015

Paradiso After Dante by Emma Haworth

Paradiso After Dante by Emma Haworth.

“Why we should read Dante as well as Shakespeare”

“Dante can seem overwhelming. T.S. Eliot’s peremptory declaration that ‘Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them: there is no third’ is more likely to be off-putting these days than inspiring. Shakespeare’s plays are constantly being staged and filmed, and in all sorts of ways, with big names in the big parts, and when we see them we can connect with the characters and the issues with not too much effort.

Dante is much more remote – a medieval Italian author, writing about a trip he claims to have made through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise at Easter 1300, escorted first by a very dead poet, Virgil, and then by his dead beloved, Beatrice. and meeting the souls of lots of people we only vaguely know of, if we’ve heard of them at all. First he sees the damned being punished in ways we are likely to find grotesque or repulsive. And then, when he meets souls working their way towards heavenly bliss or already enjoying it, there are increasing doses of philosophy and theology for us to digest.

[. . .]

The addictiveness is evident from the fact that Dante enthusiasts, Christian or not, find it hard to imagine Hell in any other way, and spend happy minutes musing about which circle is best suited to some particular friend, enemy or public figure. Dante thought Paradise was much more difficult to get into and much more difficult to describe. We are certainly not accustomed to prolonged evocations of happiness. Paradiso gives us one way, and an astoundingly dynamic one, of thinking about what human happiness might ultimately be.”    –Peter Hainsworth, Oxford University Press Blog, February 27, 2015