"Midway on our life's journey I found myself in a dark wood, For the right way was lost." - Dante Alighieri
The opening line of Dante's Inferno sets up the Divine Comedy’s epic, allegorical journey through hell, purgatory and heaven. Everything about the story, structure, and poetry aims for symmetry and balance, and it's no accident that the poem begins exactly midway in the narrator's life, his soul balanced precariously between light and dark.
Despite its overt theological themes, the Divine Comedy has plenty of humanist wisdom. We especially love this first line for its relatability: Who hasn't felt lost on life's journey? And whatever one’s spiritual convictions may be, there's no doubt that the choices we make cumulatively tilt the world toward a better or worse future.
In our illustration, structural outlined trees suggest a disorienting maze that leads toward fewer and fewer choices as they lead up or down. The center suggests a compass pointing in opposite directions, and is demarcated by 9 circles above (the heavenly spheres) and 9 circles below (the circles of the Inferno). The entire structure resembles a wide-open eye, trying to make sense of the path ahead.
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