Thursday, November 10, 2016

" They are also called liberal because their aim to free us. 
It's as if knowledge contains within itself the power
 to give us some form of freedom, to free us from 
various sorts of tyranny; "

from reading dante (text version of the free 
Yale Open Course on Dante' s Comedy)
by Giuseppe Mazzotta, this quote is on 
the difference between the liberal and 
mechanical arts, "an old medieval 

I think in this trying time, when rationality and decency seem
largely absent, that I need to turn my back on the certainties 
of the past, engage less in the present (especially the news) 
and quietly reexamine what I want to do for myself, my family
and what I want to contribute to the world. I see this as part exile
and part journey of discovery, to identify some new mental or 
emotional tools that can bring me a new, stronger sense of 
equilibrium that I can use to deal with a changing world.

I may have mentioned before that I have spent many years
studying the lives and works to two very contradictory individuals
 Charles Darwin and Dante Alighieri, in my mind Darwin personifies 
scientific inquiry and Dante the results of government and faith 
questioned. Both questioned what they saw, spoke truth to power
and both left works of great beauty and power. As Dante himself 
may have melodramatically phrased it , They shall be my Virgil.

"I hear new news every day, and those ordinary rumours 
of war, plagues, fires, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, 
meteors, comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions, of towns 
taken, cities besieged in France, Germany, Turkey, Persia, 
Poland, &c., daily musters and preparations, and such like; 
which these tempestuous times afford, battles fought, so many 
men slain, monomachies, shipwrecks, piracies, and sea-fights; 
peace, leagues, stratagems, and fresh alarums. A vast confusion 
of vows, wishes, actions, edicts, petitions, lawsuits, pleas, laws, 
proclamations, complaints, grievances, are daily brought to our 
ears. New books every day, pamphlets, currantoes, stories, whole 
catalogues of volumes of all sorts, new paradoxes, opinions, 
schisms, heresies, controversies in philosophy, religion, &c. Now 
come tidings of weddings, maskings, mummeries, entertainments, 
jubilees, embassies, tilts and tournaments, trophies, triumphs, revels, 
sports, plays ; then again, as in a new shifted scene, treasons, 
cheating tricks, robberies, enormous villainies in all kinds, funerals, 
burials, deaths of princes, new discoveries, expeditions, now comical, 
then tragical matters. Today we hear of new lords and officers created, 
to-morrow of some great men deposed, and then again of fresh honours 
conferred; one is let loose, another imprisoned; one purchaseth, another 
breaketh; he thrives, his neighbour turns bankrupt; now plenty, then 
again dearth and famine; one runs, another rides, wrangles, laughs, 
weeps, &c. Thus I daily hear, and such like, both private and public 
news, amidst the gallantry and misery of the world"

from Anatomy of Melancholy 
by Robert Burton 

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