Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"If a man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favorable to him"

OK, I am waaay behind Serena on starting the Purgatorio, because I had to slog through a 71-page introduction. But I have finished! There are things to say:

Well, really just one thing: I don't know what I'm doing with my life. STOP, this is relevant, I swear. I don't know what I want to do and I don't know how to figure out what I want to do, and I hate it. Because I don't have any goals. I'm good at achieving goals when I have them, but I don't know how to get one, and I can't just assign myself one at random so I'll feel good about having an accomplishment. That'd be like cheating at solitaire or something.

Oh, but I miss achieving goals.

Anyway, so the difference between Purgatory and Hell?

The people in Purgatory have a goal! All their punishments seem light because they've got something they're working toward and they know they'll get through it. Whereas the punishments in hell are both neverending and frustratingly circular. Oh, and everyone in Purgatory is always happily focused on God, while everyone in Hell is self-obsessed.*

So thanks a lot, Dante. Like I wasn't worried enough about drifting through my post-college years, now you have to come along and be like "Hey, that's exactly what Hell is like! Ha!"

In other news, even though this translation is definitely inferior to the Hollander, it'll be nice to read something in terza rima**. Oh, and I am excited for the middle of the story, which is where great epics are made or broken. The second bit of a great trilogy is always best (with a few exceptions), and always most difficult to pull off.

Nora Ephron is wise: "[This story] has a happy ending, but that’s because I insist on happy endings; I would insist on happy beginnings too, but that’s not necessary because all beginnings are intrinsically happy, in my opinion. What about middles, you may ask. Middles are a problem. Middles are perhaps the major problem of contemporary life."***

*Fourth circle: Bloggers.
**And Sayers actually sticks to the terza rima hardcore: rather than ABA CDC she's gone with ABA BCB, if that makes sense.
***It's from Heartburn, which is NOT on the Iditarod but is not without merit either.

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