The Last Man and the End of Middle History

Why Alighieri?

Well I'm glad you asked!

Dante Alighieri has been described as "the last man in history who was able to comprehend all the knowledge of his age." His age was of course in the Middle.

Once we got past the Middle, the idea of specialisation emerged and no one person could claim to know it all (seriously). Instead of seeing that as an indictment on how little they knew in the Middle Age - I like to view Dante's achievement as an apex in the personal pursuit of knowledge.

The rationality of the Renaissance and our modern times insists that all things are visible - if we just break them down to smaller compartments or shove them in boxes with cats. Meanwhile our post-modern artists chronicle the decay and chaos underlying everything we see and do. The Middle Age had no such dialectic - beneath everything there was an order, everything that was visible pointed towards the invisible. There was an Ultimate Harmony among Life, the Universe and Everything.

Dante's Divine Comedy marks the beginning of the end of the Middle Ages. Along with the Papacy moving to Avignon, the Church hunting down the Templar Knights, Black Death, the first use of firearms and the increased awareness of Islamic technology - the first few decades of the 14th century saw Europe's thousand year interregnum fall apart.

Most of our modern institutions (banks, armies, governments) first developed in the Middle Ages - so we owe them a lot. The issues Dante grappled with are just as relevant today as they were in 1311 when he sat on the banks of the Po pining for his dead Beatrice. That: the pursuit of political power by spiritual leaders leads to corruption (and sitting upside down in firey mud on the 8th circle of Hell apparently); the exercise by people of their free will justly merits reward or punishment, and; male sexual desire should aim to respect rather than conquer.

For more info on Dante check out Zarquon's article.

Everything is Upside Down Miss Jane!

For more twisted perspective and unconnected interconnectiveness,
visit my homepage - At Home with RoD


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