Dante, Sollers, Paradise & A Neologism

Sunday afternoon reading in Philippe Sollers & Josyane Savigneau’s Une conversation infinie which Nicole brought back for me from Paris. Page 18, Sollers speaks of Dante: “In the Divine Comedy, Dante often invents new words; he is in the process of inventing Italian, to which one has to go back in his version of things. A very great love story, The Divine Comedy.Among other things he invents a word that seems essential to me. We are going toward Paradise and he invents the word “toujourises / to foreverise.” It’s in Canto X of the paradise: ” se non cold dove’l gooier s’insempra,” qui là où jouir se toujourise / that where to ‘jouir’ foreverises itself.” Insemprar. One off the neologisms dante loved to create. Astounding invention. If I love someone it is with the desire toward duration, thus too foreverize the relation with that person. That foreverization — I pick up on Dante’s word which I find to be very precise, just like to transhumanize, to pass through the human to go toward something else, the paradisiacal.  Why not go to paradise? There certainly may be people who prefer hell, because one makes more stimulating encounters there, as Jacques Sttali once said on TV. It’s mind boggling, but if that pleases him, why not. I prefer paradise.”

Checking in my English translations of the Paradiso, I see that most of them don’t translate the neologistic word formation directly, but circumvent it with versions that go from “where joy taketh itself eternal, ” (Temple Classics Edition, translator not identified or only with initials: either P.H.W. or H.O. or both) to Stanley Lombardo’s “when there is joy eternally.” The only version I found that does translate the dantean word formation is Robert Durling’s which gives the verse as “rejoicing forevers itself.” Which is excellent indeed. Now salacious Sollers (sorry, couldn’t help the punning alliteration…) translates “gioir” as “jouir” which beats basic “joy,” or extends it into domains unchaste for most Dante admirers, especially now that we are out of the Inferno & en route in/toward the Paradiso — the basic dictionary def. gives the word’s meaning as “to have an orgasm.” Those well-read in late 20C french theory will have come across the problems of translating & defining “jouir.” Be that as it may.

My pleasure today was Dante’s “insemprar,” to foreverize. Sollers goes on to suggest that if “amour toujours” is a cliché bound to disappear eventually, that one would want it, love, to last forever, though usually it don’t last that long… So what to do? Sollers: “Well, it can be considered and is feasible. To do so one has to grasp time in a different way. And define that foreverizing as happening at each moment.” There you have it…

Going to my Dante shelf, I realized that I had more editions of Purgatory than of either the Inferno or the Paradiso. Which reminded me that the middle kingdom (or is one of the problem why purgatory is so looked down upon the fact that it may be a more egalitarian republic rather than a transcendental kingdom?) as a nomadic space has always interested me more than the deadness below or above. And so this wrote itself into the notebook:

Purgatory is forever, because
the barzakh is all
there is —

Paradise & hell
only momentary
conduits linking an
infinite chain of




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