Imagine you were scholar on a world wide tour giving lecture-seminars about any of these text..
Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, Dante's Inferno, or Hamlet
Which of the text would you choose to discuss in each of the following places?
a) a prison
b) an AIDS Hospice
c) a seminar for high based business exeutives
d) a secondary school in a third world country
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In a prison setting, Dante's Inferno speaks volumes. Dante, the pilgrim, seeks to find meaning and understanding in consciousness. Dante's journey forces him to understand and accept that which is important and meaningful. Through Virgil, Dante understands the nature of transgression and redemption. The soul searching nature of Dante's journey is applicable to a prison. There is a redemption through this process. Progressing through the different levels of sin and transgression can prompt reflection in prison about inmates, their setting, and the choices made in their lives. From out of "a dark wood," Dante emerges as a new human being. The setting of a prison facilitates the ability to connect the experience of prison to what Dante experiences. The nature of understanding what human action is and how human action has to be linked to a transcendental notion of being is where Dante's work has applicability to the prison setting.
The setting of an AIDS Hospice is one in which death is a reality for many. The physical needs of the patients at an AIDS Hospice have to be met. Yet, there is an emotional element that also must be addressed as the patients at an AIDS Hospice are preparing for the truth of the inevitable. The understanding of how truth plays a role in defining humanity would be where I would focus my lecture on Oedipus Rex. Oedipus accepts the truth stoically, with a sense of resignation to his fate. Oedipus understands that truth exists outside of the temporal conditions of power, wealth, and privilege. Oedipus gains "sight" when he understands what constitutes are real and valid in the face of that which is contingent. For patients in an AIDS Hospice, this reflection and analysis is a part of their consciousness. They are confronted with a condition of life in which having to value what is important and what is temporary is an experience that Oedipus shares. It is for this reason in which the narrative of Oedipus would be applicable in an AIDS Hospice.
In business, the need to act without indecision and paralysis is critical. Hamlet's tragic condition prevents him from acting with confidence. His function is smothered by surmise. In the world of business, this is fatal. In discussing Hamlet's condition and his inability to take action, business executives could learn how not to act. At the same time, Hamlet is incapable of bringing people into his setting and his condition. His lack of ability to forge meaningful solidarity with others is another aspect which is fatal in the realm of business. High level business executives could benefit from learning to avoid conditions like Hamlet's.
The developing country is a setting in which exposure to powerful literature can help to transform what is into what can be. The need to struggle and find success through sacrifice is where Ulysses' narrative in The Odyssey is meaningful. Odysseus shows how struggle through existing conditions is not a reason to sacrifice long term goals. For students in a developing setting, there is a long journey to find success. This voyage is challenging, filled with peril. Yet, it is one in which there has to be a sense of endurance and mental strength. Homer identifies this as part of Odysseus' character, and why it would be applicable in this setting.
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