“Dante’s Inferno-Identity Politics in Morality”

“As a quick rundown of the circles of hell, from least bad to worst, there’s: Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Wrath, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and finally Treachery. Now what’s particularly interesting here is that, according to Dante, it would seem to be worse to be a flatterer or a corrupt politician than a murderer. Misrepresenting your stances about people or politics is bad bad bad in Dante’s book.

“More interesting still is the inner-most circle: Treachery. Treachery seems to represent a particular kind of fraud: one in which the victim is expected to have some special relationship to the perpetrator. For instance, family members betraying each other seems to be worse than strangers doing similar harms. In general, kin are expected to behave more altruistically towards each other, owing in no small part to the fact that they share genes in common with one another. Helping one’s kin, in the evolutionary-sense of things, is quite literally like helping (part of) yourself. So if kin are expected to trade off their own welfare for family members at a higher rate than they would for strangers, but instead display the opposite tendency, this makes kin-directed immoral acts appear particularly heinous.”   –Jesse Marczyk Ph. D., Psychology Today, 2014

Read the full article here.

“How Dante and Virgil Can Guide Recovery From Mental Illness”

“In the epic poem ‘The Inferno,’ written by Dante Aligheri in the 14th century, the author journeys through ‘hell’ and is escorted by the great poet Virgil. Virgil is from the otherworld and can walk with Dante as a fellow traveller and let him experience the catastrophic existential restructuring to foundationally change a life, and, eventually, show him a way back to the world. This relationship model is not a treatment program or an informed guess but rather guidance based on a shared suffering.

“What is different in a Dante/Virgil relationship is that the roles are interchangeable. On some journeys of the self, you may be Dante or you may be Virgil, depending on your experience and the issue. Your suffering has utility.”   –Eric Arauz, Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Learning Network, 2014

Read the full article here.

Mark Vernon’s Podcast Dante’s Divine Comedy (2020)

“This year, 2020, marks the 700th anniversary of the completion of the great Divine Comedy. I invite you to experience the odyssey, too, by accompanying me as I discuss each canto.

“Dante begins his journey by waking up in a dark wood. The air tastes bitter. He becomes fearful. Truth is out of reach. But his crisis is a turning point.

“Many today, too, are waking up to something that’s gone wrong. We’re in a spiritual crisis. We must see the world afresh and understand. I believe Dante can help us discover how.

“I’ll post reflections on two or more cantos each week as we reach for the highest heavens. Follow every step of the way on YouTube [. . .] or via the podcast, Dante’s Divine Comedy.”  — Mark Vernon

All That Man Is (2017) by David Szalay

David Szalay’s All That Man Is, published in 2017 by Vintage, tells the stories of nine different men at varying stages of life, and explores the issues and psych of the 21st century man. The book was a finalist for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, and the winner of the 2016 Paris Review Plimpton Prize for Fiction. The fourth story of the novel cites the first three lines of the Inferno, as the story’s protagonist, a medieval scholar in crisis, drives into a pine forest.

“Pine forests on hillsides start to envelop them on the east side of the Main. And fog.

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
Ché la diritta via era smarrita

“Well, here it is. Dark pine forests, hemming the motorway. Shapes of fog throw themselves at the windscreen.” [. . .]    –David Szalay, All That Man Is (p. 146).

You can purchase Szalay’s book here.

Dante’s Psychological Comedy

[…] “My own background is in psychoanalysis, and I have recently translated the Purgatorio in an attempt to get as close as possible to the actual movement of Dante’s thought. It is “a psychology” in a certain sense, but not a precursor of the modern science. It differs from what we think of as science in at least two respects…”

D.M. Black, Los Angeles Review of Books, July 7, 2019

 

Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (2007)

philip-zimbardi-the-lucifer-effect-understanding-how-good-people-turn-evil-2007From Chapter One:
“Lucifer’s sin is what thinkers in the Middle Ages called ‘cupiditas.’ For Dante, the sins that spring from that root are the most extreme ‘sins of the wolf,’ the spiritual condition of having an inner black hole so deep within oneself that no amount of power or money can ever fill it. For those suffering the mortal malady called cupiditas, whatever exists outside of one’s self has worth only as it can be exploited by, or taken into one’s self. In Dante’s Hell those guilty of that sin are in the ninth circle, frozen in the Lake of Ice. Having cared for nothing but self in life, they are encased in icy Self for eternity. By making people focus only on oneself in this way, Satan and his followers turn their eyes away from the harmony of love that unites all living creatures.
The sins of the wolf cause a human being to turn away from grace and to make self his only good–and also his prison. In the ninth circle of the Inferno, the sinners, possessed of the spirit of the insatiable wolf, are frozen in a self-imposed prison where prisoner and guard are fused in an egocentric reality.”    –Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect (2007)

Contributed by Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin, ’08)

Schaub and Schaub, “Dante’s Path: A Practical Approach to Achieving Inner Wisdom” (2004)

schaub-and-schaub-dantes-path-a-practical-approach-to-achieving-inner-wisdom“Dante’s Path: A Practical Approach to Achieving Inner Wisdom is primarily a self-help book. However, it is a self-help book with a difference. Authors Bonney Gulino Schaub and Richard Schaub use their perceptive, though simple reading of Dante’s Divine Comedy to guide their readers through a process that allows them to access their internal wisdom, or ‘wisdom mind,’ to achieve liberation from their fears and to realize their deeper potential.” [. . .]    —Amazon

Daniel Dorman, “Dante’s Cure: A Journey Out of Madness” (2004)

daniel-dorman-dantes-cure-a-journey-out-of-madness-2004“Catherine, nineteen years old and suffering from severe schizophrenia, sat in a mental hospital—mute, catatonic, and hearing voices. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Dorman, was convinced that his patient’s psychotic behavior was not merely rooted in chemical imbalances but rather in the dramatic circumstances of her family history. He was therefore determined to avoid the mind-numbing medications that had been so detrimental to Catherine’s well being. Dorman fought adamant opposition and criticism from his peers and superiors for a chance to guide Catherine out of madness. Dante’s Cure is the riveting true story of a woman’s triumph over her schizophrenia without medication, written by the psychiatrist who helped her.”    —Amazon