This quote starts Dante’s Inferno, which I have recently chosen to conquer. I say conquer because of the challenges of understanding the poems religious and classical text. It references the era of late medieval Italy. Dante’s Comedy is chock full of allegory and tells the tale of a Pilgrim’s journey through the cosmos and the realms of Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise which will allow him to see the spectrum of human reality and the glory of divine origins which will ultimately lead him to salvation. The Pilgrim's guide through Inferno is the roman poet Virgil. While Purgatorio and Paradiso tell of the recuperation of the human soul and its triumph in the presence of the transcendent deity, Inferno explores the world of the souls remaining in unhappiness and cut off from the primal sources of human life and renewal. Inferno is full of division, souls cling to their separateness and their own concept of reality. The state of being in Inferno, the inner world of thought, obsession and ceaselessly repeated anger and cruelty, souls which remain cut off from one’s divine origins, is a result of a soul’s internal choices and fulfillment. Although this state may seem unyielding it also seems to challenge and provoke our own sense of justice and consequence and forces the reader to access what it truly means to be human. In the beginning of Inferno the Pilgrim is exposed to the hill of aspiration and the sun of higher illumination as possible goals, but given fallible human nature the descent into darkness is necessary to reveal the potential of humans to dehumanize themselves and others. Sound familiar?....pretty much echoes our chaotic 21st century.
This exhibit, currently at the Hartford Civic Center, is definitely Not for the faint of heart! The exhibit features human bodies preserved through a new process called "plastination," where technicians remove the water from organs or whole bodies and replace it with silicon. The corpses are then cut open...and in some cases, sliced into sections....to reveal the inner workings of the human body. The exhibits curators have arranged some of the cadavers in poses to simulate real-life activities. A man running, with all his layers of muscles and tendons splayed out, as if he is about to take flight. A muscular cadaver pulling back on a bow and arrow. Some of the exhibits are intended to be a bit shocking: a lung blackened from years of smoking, a liver pickled from years of drinking, a brain shriveled from Alzheimer’s Disease. Overall the exhibit is extraordinary, beautiful, challenging. There are three versions of the exhibit currently traveling the world...if it's in your area, a definite must see!