October 28, 2011

Angels and memory

I just finished making my way through Dante's Divine Comedy for the umpteenth time. Every time I read it I come across something I'd missed before. This time I was struck and mildly amused by the discussions between the Pilgrim and his beloved Beatrice in Paradise.

When she's not chewing the poet out, she sometimes sounds like the host of Mr. Wizard's 14th Century Science World as she discusses the fine points of late medieval cosmology. At other times she enters upon long theological digressions and the occasional rant.

I particularly enjoyed her detailed discussion of angelology in Canto 29. According to her, and she was in a position to know in the context of the poem, angels possess will and intellect but--contrary to popular opinion on earth--they have no memory and no need of it because they are always gazing at the mind of God:

From the first moment these beings found their bliss
within God's face in which all is revealed,
they never turned their eyes away from It;

hence, no new object interrupts their sight
and hence, they have no need of memory
since they do not possess divided thought.

So there you have it. She didn't discuss the whole how many on the head of a pin thing however.

AT THE OTHER END OF THE GREAT CHAIN OF BEING, Massey officials may face more criminal charges in the wake of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster which killed 29 miners in April 2010.

OCCUPATIONS. The future of the Occupy Wall Street movement is considered here.



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