Posted by: theodorecosmosophia | May 11, 2012

Video: Theodore Richards on Dante’s Cosmology of Love

Nel suo profundo vidi che s’interna, [within its depths I saw ingathered]

Legato con amore in un volume, [written in love in one volume]

Cio che per l’universo si squaderna. [the scattered leaves of all the universe]

Paradiso, xxxiii

This video was the presentation I made at the 2011 Cosmology of Love Conference at CIIS, San Francisco, CA. In it, I argue that Dante’s cosmology holds something in common with both the realized eschatology of Jesus and the new scientific cosmology: that the edge of the universe is this moment; and that in the depths of the cosmos all of the universe is contained in a single point, il punto or, in Modern terms, singularity. For Dante the entire universe moved from this point, “the love that moves the sun and other stars.”

“Being at the edge is what makes us feel alive.” We are defined as human beings by our desire to cross over this edge, to go beyond. Life always seeks this edge, to feel the safety of the womb and to experience the terror of birth. We find this edge, in part, when we explore our world, when sing songs, tell stories, write poems. When we cross over this edge, this cosmic barrier, the soul and the cosmos are shattered. Everything is turned upside down–this is both the terror of the apocalypse and the opportunity for novelty and birth. We need new stories, new poems. Where is the Dante for today’s cosmology?

“At the Edge”

In the Red Sea,

The most barren of landscapes

Meets a Universe of color,

The ragged, rugged peeks of the Sinai,

Meet the depths of the Red Sea reefs,

Where a swimmer,

A man,

Approaches the edge,

And moves from the ease,

Of two-foot-deep wading

To the depths of the abyss.

He pauses

For a moment,

Fearful of the depths,

Until he sees

That the beauty of the reefs

Lies beyond the edge

And the sea supports him just the same

In the depths

As in the shallows.


I stand here

Poised at the precipice

Of tomorrow.

The ape peering out from the forest;

The polar bear poised to dive into the sea

Even as his icy home melts;

The infant

Entering the birth canal;

The mother,

Awaiting motherhood.


To be alive,

Is to live

At the edge.

To be at the edge

Is to give birth

To each moment

In this pregnant world;

Standing at the high cliffs,

Above the churning,


Salty Sea,

Giving birth

Each moment

Pregnant with tomorrow

At the edge,

Of unknowing.

September 2008, California


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: