This podcast is aimed at a non-specialist audience interested in acquiring what Northrop Frye called, in the title of one of his books, an educated imagination. Its materials are drawn from the many courses in literature and mythology that I taught, combined with material from my book The Productions of Time, for which I hope the podcast may provide an accessible introduction, with concrete examples.
The theme of reunion begins, as Dante meets his dead friend Casella. Casella, a musician, performs a poem by Dante that he has set to music, until they are interrupted by Cato, who tells them to stop wasting time. Art can be redemptive or escapist depending on how it is used. At the top of the mountain, Virgil tells Dante he has achieved the only true freedom, which is internal and disciplined, not a mere absence of external rules.
Recreation as the real promise of Christianity: we can change; we can be recreated through trial, an insight not dependent on literal belief in Christian doctrine. The role of education in the purgatorial or recreative process, and the role of the arts in education.
The thrilling famous speech of Ulysses, questing for experience and knowledge. What is forbidden knowledge? Knowledge sought for selfish reasons, including power. The real forbidden knowledge is of our true motives, about which we lie not only to others but to ourselves.
Canto 5, continued: The tension between romantic and spiritual love in Dante.
Canto 15: The mutual affection and respect between Dante and his former teacher (and father figure) Brunetto Latini, punished for homosexuality.
A psychological speculation on the motive for human evil that does not depend on religious commitment.The damnation of unbaptized infants and virtuous pagans: the acceptance of tragedy within the divine comedy.
Canto 2 of The Divine Comedy, in which Dante, as reluctant as any hobbit, is induced by Virgil to embark upon his quest by speaking of Dante’s love Beatrice Portinari, a real woman, though loved according to the new conventions called Courtly Love, from which descend our ideas that romantic love can save you when nothing else can.