“Dante Alighieri was early in recognizing that our age has a problem. He was the first writer to use the word moderno, in Italian, and the difficulty he spotted with the modern mind is its limited capacity to relate to the whole of reality, particularly the spiritual aspects. This might sound surprising, given that his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, is often described as one of the most brilliant creations of the medieval imagination. It is taken to be a genius expression of a discarded worldview, not the modern one, from an era in which everything was taken to be connected to the supreme reality called God. But Dante was born in a time of troubling transition. He realized that this cosmic vision was being challenged, and he didn’t seek to reject it or restore it, but to remake it.
“This brings us to the heart of why Dante still matters today. He stresses ways of knowing about life based on experiencing and undergoing, as opposed to studying or inspecting. They bring an understanding that isn’t about accumulating information and sorting data but trusting feeling and following insights.
“The vision is tremendous and simple and is a gloriously articulated reflection on everyday human consciousness. We are aware and can be aware of being aware. And this is Dante’s message for now: in a way, all we have to do to rediscover the essence of our intelligence, and the capacity to relate to the whole of reality – particularly in its spiritual aspects – is turn towards our felt experience, and examine what we find. There is presence and freedom, intention and imagination, truth in stories and transformations of time. To grow in this sense is to get better at being alive.”[. . .] –Mark Vernon, Aeon, July 20, 2021 (retrieved April 11, 2022)
Read the full text of psychotherapist and writer Mark Vernon’s essay here.
See our other post relating to Mark Vernon and his work here.