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The Morning GIF: Celestial Rose

A view from Paradise.


Lorraine Murphy

Internet Culture

Here at the Daily Dot, we swap GIF images with each other every morning. Now we’re looping you in. In the Morning GIF, we feature a popular—or just plain cool—GIF we found on Reddit, Canvas, or elsewhere on the Internet.

There’s a Meatloaf pun to be made here somewhere. On Tumblr, we spotted Paradise by the dashboard light: Gustave Doré’s illustration of the Celestial Rose.

It’s a concept straight out of theology by way of Dante: in his book Paradiso, he is toured around the various levels of heaven by saintly guides, ascending finally to the Empyrean level, the ultimate heaven of pure white light, which exists beyond physical space and time. From this divine vantage point he can see all those chosen of God without distortion or diminishment because of distance. They form concentric circles centered around the Virgin Mary, a “rose” like a rose window. The University of Texas at Austin’s Danteworlds explains: “[L]ike a hologram, a three-dimensional image, the rose is formed from a ray of light reflected off the outer surface of the Primum Mobile (30.106-17).”

The perfect, divine sight can’t be perceived directly by gross human senses, but must be refracted and limned into something our limited sight can take in and our limited brains understand. Another form of transformation which can add literal layers of meaning is that of turning an etching into a GIF, as Tumblr user Challenger has done with this beautiful illustration of the Celestial Rose. Theologians may quibble about the inclusion of strong blacks and greys in a theoretically pure white realm, but of course translating the divine into an effective Tumblr post does entail some shades of grey.

GIF by Challenger/Tumblr

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