And as Easter Saturday, (sue
me Iím not Catholic. I donít know what the day is called) I sat down to
read Purgatory. Way back when, was it last Easter, I promised to analyze,
review, ramble on about Purgatory.
Karen and I tried over and
over to sit down in our reading group of two and review Purgatory Canto
by Canto. However, she changed jobs, we werenít taking the ferry together
anymore, excuse, excuse, excuse. Whatever. We made it to the level of Anger
and ran out of steam, which is funny because the whole level is filled
with smoke and visual obfuscation.
So, anyway, time to talk
purgation. Most people, well the ones who have an opinion on the subject,
prefer Inferno. Itís all Grr Argh suffering. Look the angst. The pathos.
The humanity of it all.
Hello, everyone is damned.
Inferno is just darn depressing. Now Purgatorio is something I can sink
my teeth into. Sure people are suffering. However, instead of reenacting
the results of their errors over and over, they are purging away the sin
Purgatory is about hope.
The suffering isnít about making people, well, suffer. Purgatory isnít
about punishment. The suffering is Godís way of helping sinners wrap their
brain around why and how that sin hurts them. Hurts others. Basically,
itís God showing a little tough love. Purgatory is hopeful because eventually,
Purgatory will be empty. There is the promise that one day, each sinner
will have a place in paradise.
Purgatory is also about people.
They arenít damned and they arenít saved. They werenít saints. Most of
them screwed up at some point or another. Thatís why they are there.
Casella, who sings in the
sweet new style. Okay, so he waited a bit to long to reform, but at least
he reformed. Save me, but not yet.
La Pia, who was filled with
envy, the mean old woman on her porch making fun of people. Now she sits
with her eyes sewn shut, talking with others. Learning to listen. Learning
to lean on others for support.
Statius, who hid his Christianity
out of fear. And okay, you gotta love a guy who starts out by saying
that Virgil is his hero and you, the reader, know Virgil is standing right
there. And Dante the character starts to lose it. Okay, itís couched in
poetic language. But come on, his eyes are filled with mirth and heís dying
to tell Statius, hey your hero, heís standing right here. Lovely moment.
Although, there is a thread
of sadness that runs through the narrative. Virgil. Heís damned through
no fault of his own. Over and over Dante returns to a question that clearly
bothers him. How can Virgil, brave, noble, Danteís literary father, be
damned. Which as I think of it is an another example of Danteís damned
fathers, saved sons theme. And yet, and yet. I like Virgil. I understand
Danteís sadness. His need to get around theology and dogma to save
someone he loves.
There is something so fresh
and poignant about that moment, when upon seeing Beatrice, Dante is struck
by confusion. Turns to ask Virgil what he should do, but Virgil has slipped
away all unnoticed to return to his blameless place in hell.
Shed a sad tear for Virgil
and then turn to Beatrice. Virgil urged Dante on with words of Beatrice
and here she is. Now that Dante has been taught to purge away the seven
deadly sins, heís ready to look on the face of love.
Well, the face of love which
wears Beatriceís face. Beatriceís moon to the Primal Love Orgy of ecclesiastical
vision that is Paradise. However, that must wait until the next book.
And donít worry, Dante still has some by why, why, why thoughts for poor
Now, weíll see if I can have
something to say about Paradise before next Easter.