H4. The Final Presentation involves several final presentations. Dan gives his final presentation in High School. Dan presents himself to Beatrice with a gift from Faith. And Dan provokes Leo into presenting his swastika tattoo for the party-goers. It’s the longest section so far, and it will probably be the longest in the book; it was originally a whole chapter, but I decided to condense it because no one wants to read a whole chapter about a guy with anxiety trying to go to a party.
Dan’s moments with Beatrice reflect the Beatific Vision, the direct religious revelation. In the commentary for B2 I discussed how the poet Dante Alighieri loved a woman named Beatrice but she married another man and then died young. Dante never stopped obsessing over Beatrice, and wrote her into his vision of heaven in the Paradiso. It’s said Dante once had a dream that God made Beatrice eat his flaming heart, which is fucking metal, but also wonderfully symbolic:
Dan’s final presentation at school posits that we create Gods to cope with the mechanisms of cognition. When we die, we entrust ourselves to those Gods. Dante Alighieri created a buffer between himself and his God with his Beatrice; he filtered his lustful human heart through Beatrice as if to absolve himself of it. Beatrice eats his heart to purify him for God.
In Akayama DanJay, Dan and Beatrice put their arms around one-another and smoke a cricket. Beatrice waits for Dan to inhale, then kisses him and pulls the smoke from his lungs, and blows the smoke toward the moon. Instead of eating his heart, my Beatrice inhales Dan’s soul and exhales it in the direction of ultimate truth, represented by the moon.
My version of Beatrice is generally associated with the moon: when she appears in the afterlife in section D3 she looks like a pure polished moon. She grows wings like a weird bird, and birds are associated with celestial bodies. She likes rabbits and bunnies, which live on the moon in some mythologies.
Who gave Dan the cricket he shares with Beatrice? Faith! Faith tries to seduce Dan on the balcony, but even when she licks his teeth he’s only marginally interested. Remember, Faith cured Jay of the Teeth that Shriek in D3; Faith has power Dan dismisses. Relating this to the poet Dante (and preferring symbolic clarity over historical accuracy), Dante’s obsession with Beatrice was disrupting his faith. His only solution was to unite the two, which he accomplished with The Divine Comedy. In Akayama DanJay, Dan is preoccupied with Beatrice and Faith gives him the cricket he needs to break the ice with her.
During Dan’s “Beatific vision,” the person we know is Leo but who calls himself Henry busts into the room. When Dan and Beatrice indicate they do not want him near, Leo sits beside them and shares their cricket. Recall, Dante Alighieri never really got his Beatific vision except in dreams and poetry; Dan can’t be allowed narrative satisfaction quite yet. When Leo leaves, it is ultimately Dan’s urge to follow him which cuts short his Beatific vision. His desire to be near the person who angers him reflects the poet Dante’s preoccupation with hell and his political rivals, whom his poetic counterpart confronts before entering heaven.
Once Dan gets Leo thrown from the party, Faith isn’t happy with him. She tells Dan to sleep on the couch and leave as soon as he wakes up; he’s lost his chance to be with Beatrice because of his ire.
Still, there are other expressions of ultimate truth. Dan’s high-school presentation references the Bhagavad-Gita, in which the warrior Arjuna is gifted absolute insight into the divine form of his companion.
I’ll see you next week. I have no idea what the commentary will be!