Dante's Divine Comedy LO26657

From: Alfred Rheeder (pvm@pixie.co.za)
Date: 05/09/01

Dear LO'ers

In a recent post, Leo Minnigh made very interesting
connections/observations between Dante's Divine Comedy and At de Lange's
contributions/authentic work. Leo thank you for taking me to places I
have never been before. I should also thank At and Dante. Thank you very

The connection between the Dante's evolutionary path through Inferno,
Purgatorio, reaching Paradiso and At de Lange's work leaves me breathless
- especially if one considers that Dante approximately wrote the Divine
Comedy 600 years ago. Superficially "skimming"over the Divine Comedy,
including the 7 deadly sins/vice's, the similarities with Entropy
Production and the 7 E's struck me like a bolt of lightning. I started to
explore similarities/differences between these sins/vices and the 7 E's as
Dante considers the 7 deadly sins as offences against love and how they
constrain one reaching Paradiso - Love Agape - Unconditional Love. In
Purgatario, Dante places each of the seven sins on a level, with the
higher levels closer to Paradise and the lower ones closer to Hell.
According to Dante Pride is the most devastating or serious sin - that is
if we interpret his writing literally.....
The 7 deadly sins are:
Perverted Love: Pride, Envy, Wrath/Anger - Lower Level
Insufficient Love: Sloth
Excessive Love of Earthly Goods: Greed, Gluttony, Lust - Higher Level

The ordering of the sins has been the topic of numerous discussion and the
cause of numerous differences (interpretations). Some believe that the
sins are equally repugnant to God so any classification is wrong. Others
belief that since God loves them it is really not necessary to contemplate
and dwell upon these sins. At the root of this "debate" seems to be
literate interpretations vs. other interpretations.

I choose to explore them, focusing more on the positive aspects. My
focusing on the positive aspects is not an attempt the "erase" the
negatives. Inevitably their will be differences in opinions but I will
describe my experiences which caused me to choose this path. A path that
might be the same for some and a path that will definitely be different
for others.

I have often (painfully) become aware how a focus (or maybe I should say
emphasis solely/exclusively/overwhelmingly, concerned with) on negative
aspects induces fear. As a standard 6 pupil (13 year old) in 1986, during
my first year in High School, the "whole" school was gathered in the
school hall (excluding the gardeners and maintenance staff) waiting in
anticipation for the arrival of a very important person. (I attended a
boys high school - the first Afrikaans school in South Africa) This
special person was a General, highly decorated I should add, in the
National Defence Force. Well we listened and attentively watched the
multi - media display for over 2 hours. Sole and exclusive focus was on
the "Black and Red Threat" all of its organisations including the ANC,
UDM, SACP, the "Eastern Blocks Red Machine" etc. their intentions and
naturally the threats they pose. The whole "display" was aimed at
inducing unprecedented fear (chaos) only to suggest a specific order as
the solution to the problems. So one only and one only specific door was
opened (by them) as a means to achieve and maintain order amidst the
disorder. I do not have to elaborate what that door entailed. I should
ad that disciplining accompanied the whole "display". I will never forget
this day! I can remember myself thinking: "How corrupt/absurd/ (almost
surreal) can I system be?" Doesn't such a highly decorated General have
more important and better things to do?

I attended church every Sunday with my parents. Fear was more than often
used. The fear of death, the fear of this and fear of that. For those
that do not know most "White" churches in South Africa even justified
Apartheid. This was mainly achieved through the induction of fear for the
antichrist, amongst the congregation, and by the suggestion of maintaining
and achieving order/salvation through the adoption of the beliefs and
interpretations of the church (the one door). The beliefs etc. included
the justification of apartheid. Since then I have increasingly become
aware how often religion is about religion and not God. Are people
fighting about religion or God? It seems to me that the fear and anxiety
was often so overwhelming and crippling that the congregation blindly
adopted (trusted) the proposed solution. The congregation walked through
the door and even said thank you .

Reminiscing... I can describe these experiences as a divine comedy.

When reading about and contemplating the idea's of memetics I am often
struck by something peculiar. The most successful meme's have the ability
to constrain the openness of the "host" and "hosts"in an unprecedented
way. Deming with his brilliant insights, describes how fear constrains
the openness of the system. The fear is often caused by the priority and
importance of accountability, excepting responsibility and severe
disciplining without any grace. Every body blaming and pointing finger at
everybody. What are "they" hiding? What happens to the discovery of
"quality problems" as well as the permanent improvement of "quality" now
and in the future?

When we make effective connections how often is our liveness (amongst
others) not constrained by a lack of openness. A lack of openness in
ourselves and/or a lack of openness in other systems. I have become
deeply aware of this. Why are we bothered so much by otherness?

Dante's PRIDE is devastating on openness. What will happen to liveliness?
Will the system become a SLOTH (physically and spiritually lazy) trapped
by and through the search for an "eternal slave"?

[Yes you are right At! The joker in the pack is indeed openness. You are
right Leo - incredible connections and similarities exist!]

I am of the opinion that there is not one specific essentiality that
"opens" the door for everyone or for every system for that matter, but I
have become extremely aware how often the lack of openness
devastates/paralyses the system - it is almost as if the system is
yearning for the return to the previous "equilibrium state". I suspect
this is exactly what Dante experienced and articulates. He classify the
"sins" not as means of ranking them from worst to least worst, but merely
in terms of his own experience and his awareness of "the" root constraint
PRIDE (within Dante's context) that paralyses openness. I believe he felt
that if PRIDE cannot be overcome firstly (as a constraint of openness in
his context is not elevated), that any attempts to reach Paradiso will be
futile. PRIDE was his door to the other six sins and Paradiso. Considering
the environment surrounding Dante - PRIDE was arguably closest to hell.

Contemplating the work of Dante, other scientific breakthroughs etc. and
my own experiences some "strange" idea emerged. I believe that a
fascinating pattern exists. Extreme creativity -destructive or
constructive - seems to manifest to a larger degree in a system (SU) with
the surrounding environment (SY) closer to a state of complete disorder
(and the "bifurcation point") rather than the surrounding environment (SY)
being closer to the state off equilibrium.

I do not imply that entropy is not produced in a state of equilibrium.
Entropy is produced if a system is in a state of equilibrium. However, the
rate of entropy production in a state of equilibrium is far lower than the
rate of entropy production closer to complete disorder/chaos. Dante for
e.g. lived in Italy during the "ending" period of the middle ages,
preceding the renaissance.

It also seems as if the surrounding environment (SU) "judges" the
creativity of system (SU) to a harsher degree when the surrounding
environment (SU) is closer to a state of complete disorder/chaos. It is
almost as if the environment is "blind" and "ignorant" about the disorder
that is manifesting within itself. What type of glasses is the
environment wearing, preventing "it" from not seeing what some others are
seeing? Is the environment tacitly very "aware" about the increased
manifesting disorder within? Does this tacit knowledge increase the
environment's uneasiness with otherness? I suspect so.

I believe that the rate of Entropy Production is extremely important.
Does the rate of Entropy Production play a crucial role in LO's, paradigm
shifts and cultural changes in organisations? [As if Entropy Production is
not already complex enough!] Yip - how, why, where and to what extent?
That I'm not sure off - the journey has only recently begun!

Launch a problem I hear in the distance....

Treating "quality" problems as precious jewels.

Alfred Rheeder



Alfred Rheeder <pvm@pixie.co.za>

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