Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Upcoming Observatory Double Feature "Beyond the Sphere: Getting Lost with Dante" and the Music of Helen Gillet, Monday, November 22

Next Monday at Observatory, Paradiso Contapasso presents a fantastic double feature: the haunting cello music of New Orleans-based Helen Gillet followed by an illustrated lecture about Dante's trip to hell and back by medievalist Nicola Masciandaro. All for just $5.

The music begins at 7 and the lecture at 8.

Full details below; hope to see you there!
A Paradiso Contapasso Double Feature:
Beyond the Sphere: Getting Lost with Dante and the Music of Helen Gillet
An illustrated lecture with professor of medieval literature Nicola Masciandaro preceded by the a performance by Helen Gillet
Date: Monday, November 22
Time: 7:00 for music; 8:00 for lecture
Admission to both: $5

Everyone knows that Dante went to hell and back. “Non vedi tu come egli ha la barba crespa e il color bruno per lo caldo e per lo fummo che è là giù?” [Do you not see how his beard is crisped and his color browned by the heat and smoke that this there below?], a lady is reported by Boccaccio to have said upon seeing the poet in Verona.

The underworld is written all over the author’s image. In many circles, from video game consoles to college lecture halls, the Divine Comedy is virtually synonymous with Inferno. The “Paradiso Contrapasso” concept presents a liberation from this stygian fixation. A contamination of paradise with the essential principal of divine punishment? A saturation of eternal torment with celestial, empyreal bliss? Or maybe something more radical than either. The damnation and perdition of the very idea of paradise? Or a penalty that would itself comprise it?

The word paradise, from ancient Persian, signifies an enclosed or walled garden. The divine punishment of paradise might then be imagined as the annihilation of its constitutive boundary, an exposure of the garden to what is beyond it. Does paradise disappear? Or does everything become a paradise?

Tonight’s lecture will take this theme as an invitation to read Dante as a radically paradisical poet, one for whom the original and ultimate state of being is never somewhere else, before or after, but is something that must always, and precisely in its absence, always be here.

Nicola Masciandaro is Associate Professor of English at Brooklyn College (CUNY) and a specialist in medieval literature.
To find out more about the lecture, click here; to find out more about the music of Helen Gillet, click here. You can get directions to Observatory--which is next door to the Morbid Anatomy Library (more on that here)--by clicking here. You can find out more about Observatory here, join our mailing list by clicking here, and join us on Facebook by clicking here.

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