Reflections on the Emergence of Greater California as a World Civilization
Epilogue:California and the Paradiso
185 Epilogue: California and the Paradiso “You wish the world to believe you are the granddaughter of Troy, the famous, and daughter of Rome.” Giovanni Boccaccio (to fellow Florentines), Life of Dante “quand d’apparve una montagna bruna Per la distanza, e parvemi alta tanto, Quando veduta non m’aveva alcuna.” “When there appeared to us a Mountain, dim with distance; And to me it seemed the highest I have ever seen.” Ulysses to Dante Dante Alighieri, Inferno, XXV. 133–136 Somewhere in the latter stages of his tramp through the Inferno, Florentine poet Dante Alighieri – accompanied by his cicerone, the Mantuan poet Virgil – has occasion to run into none other than Ulysses (aka Odysseus). Though doomed to an eternity in the Inferno, the pagan Ulysses is at least conceded the honor of directing Dante toward the Mountain of Purgatory, atop which the poet’s spiritual journey will reach its ultimate goal by ascending directly into the celestial Para- dise under the guidance of his divine intercessor Beatrice. This interesting, some would argue ultimate, work of faith conceived by medi- eval Christendom has laid permanent proprietary claims over the very notion of “Paradise” – notwithstanding, as we earlier noted, the word’s origins (pairidaeza) in pre-Christian Avestan-Pahlavi Persia and practical instantiations in Cyrus the Great’s installations for his Achaemenid Empire.1 Rather than ignoring such claims, let us call upon Dante’s monumental design, in order, however, to reach some very different conclusions that favor identification of California with our “Mountain of Paradise” label. As Dante commentators...
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