“The point can’t be made often or forcefully enough: getting Dante straight means getting him gay, as well. When it comes to the sex or gender of the people we love best, Dante doesn’t give a fig. This is something that Dreher and other serious readers of Dante ought to know.” — Guy Raffa, “What Rod Dreher Ought to Know about Dante and Same-Sex Love,” Pop Matters
Excerpt from Jack Gilbert‘s poem, “Dante Dancing”:
When he dances of meeting Beatrice that first time,
he is a youth, his body has no real language,
and his heart understands nothing of what has
started. Love like a summer rain after drought,
like the thin cry of a read-tailed hawk, like an angel
sinking its teeth into our throat. He has only
beginner steps to tell of the sheen inside him.
The boy Dante sees her first with the absolute love
possible only when we are ignorant of each other.
Arm across his face, he runs off. Years go by.
Read the entire poem here.
See also Sarah Manguso’s profile of Jack Gilbert on the Poetry Foundation site.
Contributed by Irene Hsu, Stanford University ’17
“Our 22 karat gold and ruby Elixir of Love ring can hold your tiniest possessions. The griffin was a legendary creature with the body of lion and the head and wings of an eagle. The combination indicates both intelligence and strength. The griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature, renowned for guarding treasures and other priceless possessions. Our griffin is carrying a Maltese cross which is considered a symbol of protection and a badge of honor representing loyalty, generosity, bravery, and helpfulness towards others. In Dante’s Divine Comedy Beatrice takes off into the Heavens to begin Dante’s journey through paradise on a flying Griffin that moves as fast as lightning.” —Donna Distefano
“You could argue that the fundamental question behind all literature is: ‘What does it mean to be human?’ Some people have even argued that storytelling itself is what makes us more than just monkeys with iPhones — that Homer created the modern consciousness, or that Shakespeare (as Harold Bloom has it) invented the human identity. In recent years, however, literature has lost a lot of ground on that score to evolutionary psychology, neurobiology and computer science, and particularly to the efforts of artificial intelligence researchers. So as we wait for the Singularity, when our iPhones will become sentient and Siri will start telling us what we can do for her, many of the savvier fiction writers have begun to come to grips with the fact that the tutelary spirit of the quest for the human may not be Dante or Emily Dickinson or Virginia Woolf, but Alan Turing, the British mathematician who helped start the revolution in computing.
Turing may be best known for his version of the Victorian-era Imitation Game, in which a judge receives written responses to his questions from a man and a woman behind a screen and tries to guess from the answers which is the man and which the woman. In Turing’s version, the messages are from a human and a computer; it was his contention that when a judge couldn’t tell the difference any longer, then a machine could be said to think like a human being. The Turing test has since become, at least in the popular imagination, the holy grail of artificial intelligence developers, as well as a conceit in contemporary fiction, and that conceit is at the heart of Scott Hutchins’s clever, funny and very entertaining first novel, ‘A Working Theory of Love.'” [. . .] –James Hynes, The New York Times, November 21, 2012