Cities and Memory’s Inferno Soundscapes (2020)

“To mark the 700th anniversary of Dante’s masterpiece The Divine Comedy, more than 80 artists from all over the world have created his vision of Hell through sound – this is the Cities and Memory Inferno.”   —Cities & Memory website (posted November 23, 2020)


Listen also to Cities and Memory‘s soundtrack to Giuseppe de Liguoro’s 1911 film L’Inferno, available on YouTube:

“Writing/Righting Your Life the Dante Way,” a Coffee & Cocktails podcast episode (2020)

Podcast-Writing-Righting-your-life-the-Dante-Way“‘Writing/Righting Your Life the Dante Way,’ Or ‘How to awaken your potential, pin-point your goals, and discover a way forward in tough times’ with Dr. Kristin Stasiowski of Kent State University.

“This incredible talk by Dr. Stasiowski speaks to the importance of learning from our past and how historical literature can be a source of inspiration and motivation especially during dark times.”   —The Coffee & Cocktails Podcast with Dr. Ann Wand (November 23, 2020)

Alessandro Barbero’s “Lezione su Dante e il Potere” (2020)

alessandro-barbero-lezione-su-dante-e-il-potere-2020“Grazie alla consolidata collaborazione con la Casa Editrice Laterza, la Fondazione del Teatro Grande propone per questa Stagione una speciale Lezione di Storia che vede protagonista Alessandro Barbero, storico e scrittore italiano tra i più acclamati degli ultimi tempi. Domenica 18 ottobre alle 15.30, anticipando gli eventi legati alle celebrazioni per i 700 anni dalla morte del Sommo Poeta, il Professor Barbero darà vita a una imperdibile Lezione sul tema “Dante e il potere.” Un incontro che insisterà soprattutto sulla grande passione di Dante per la politica.

“Oltre alla poesia, e a Beatrice, la politica è stata la passione dominante di Dante. Non solo la politica fatta di riflessione teorica e di alti ideali, ma quella concreta e sporca, fatta di gestione del potere, di lotte fra correnti, di disciplina di partito e di appoggio agli amici, di interventi in aula e di votazioni pilotate, di scelte drammatiche e di espedienti meschini. Alla fine della sua carriera lo aspettava un processo – politico anch’esso – per malversazioni e abuso di potere, un processo che gli sarebbe costato l’esilio, e grazie a cui noi oggi abbiamo la Commedia.

“Alessandro Barbero è considerato uno dei più originali storici italiani ed è noto al largo pubblico per i suoi libri – saggi e romanzi – e per le sue collaborazioni televisive. Studioso di prestigio, insegna Storia medievale presso l’Università del Piemonte Orientale, sede di Vercelli.” [. . .]    —QuiBresica.it, October 14, 2020

Margaret Wertheim on Science and God

“Centuries after Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, contemplated the relationship between science and religion, and decades after Carl Sagan did the same in his exquisite Varieties of Scientific Experience, physicist-turned-science-writer Margaret Wertheim offers perhaps the most elegant and emboldening reconciliation of these two frequently contrasted approaches to the human longing for truth and meaning.

“Wertheim is the creator of the PBS documentary Faith and Reason, author of deeply thoughtful books like Pythagoras’s Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender War and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet, and cofounder of The Institute for Figuring — ‘an organization dedicated to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science, mathematics and engineering’.”

“[Wertheim:] ‘I don’t know that I believe in the existence of God in the Catholic sense. But my favorite book is the Divine Comedy. And at the end of the Divine Comedy, Dante pierces the skin of the universe and comes face-to-face with the love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe that there is a love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe in Dante’s vision.'”   –Maria Popova, “Dante and the Eternal Quest for Nonreligious Divinity,” Brainpickings, 2015

See the full article here.

“Dante’s Inferno Films World Premieres Take Over Italy”

“Dante’s Hell and Inferno Dantesco Animato, both films produced and directed by Boris Acosta, will premiere at MIA (Rome film festival market) on October 17, 2020, and later on will have its world festival premiere at the Ravenna Nightmare Film Festival on October 31, Halloween Day and will continue on to November 8, 2020.

Both films are based on InfernoDante Alighieri’s first part of the literary masterpiece, The Divine Comedy. Not until now, has this story been told so descriptively by visual art from artists of the highest caliber and an array of celebrities and known scholars.”[. . .]   –Global Film Sales, WFMZ-TV News, 2020

See also related discussion here.

Matt Kish’s Inferno Illustrations (2020)

matt-kish-illustration-301-rom-73-fallen-angelsmatt-kish-illustration-028-attack-wrathful-attacking

“I have always been fascinated by the crude and vulgar spectacle of Inferno. Perhaps some of what follows is more personal than validated by scholarship, but despite his clear devotion to Christianity and deep and abiding belief in dogma, Dante seems to relish in his bizarre portrayal of the torments of Hell. I think I remember the poem was originally written in low, or street, Italian rather than formal language, because Dante wanted the tone to match the content and for the work to be something everyone could read. My experience growing up with comic books in particular was that they too were a kind of low, vulgar entertainment. Designed to titillate and provoke, but in no way were they deemed serious or valid art. There was a sort of dirty appeal to the comics I saw on the shelf in the grocery store, especially the pulpy black and white horror comic magazines like Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. For my approach to Inferno, I wanted to borrow heavily from this lurid, brightly colored, sickly appealing visual style as well as the connotations of what comics seemed to be to my young mind. So this is mirrored in my painting style, which is very bright and graphic and employs linework over tone and value (essentially, I paint like one should draw, I don’t paint like one should paint) as well as in my collaging bits of text and image from comics into the illustrations.”    —Matt Kish (personal email communication, September 28, 2020)

You can check out the full series and Kish’s other works on his website.

Ahayweh Gate – Descent II

“Ahayweh Gate, the first level, is named for the phrase ‘Abandon hope, all ye who enter here’ from Dante’s Divine Comedy.”    —ClassicReload, January 7, 2016

Learn more about Parallax Software’s 1996 video game Dark Descent II here.

“Did Dante Alighieri Suffer From a Sleep Disorder?” by Henry Nicholls

“I was at a conference, standing in the queue for coffee during a break between sessions, and the woman in front of me went down. As she fell, she resembled a push puppet, one of those little elasticated toys that collapses when you press the button on the base. It all happened very quickly, but if it had been possible to slow down the motion, I would have seen her head drop first, chin onto chest, her shoulders relax, arms flop to her sides, and legs buckle.

[. . .]

“This is cataplexy, a condition in which emotions can cause the body’s muscles to fail; it affects many people with narcolepsy. Nathaniel Kleitman understood the difference between narcolepsy (the sleep) and cataplexy (the collapsing fits) only too well. ‘Boredom and monotony favor narcolepsy; gaiety and excitement, cataplexy,’ he wrote in Sleep and Wakefulness.

[. . .]

“Giuseppe Plazzi, head of the sleep lab at the University of Bologna, has argued that Dante Alighieri might have suffered from narcolepsy with cataplexy all the way back in the 14th century, as his autobiographical masterpiece The Divine Comedy features most of the symptoms, including cataplexy. In the middle of his journey through Hell, for instance, Dante hears the tragic love story of two lost spirits and collapses. ‘I fainted out of pity, and, as if l were dying, fell, as a dead body falls.’

“The idea that Dante suffered from narcolepsy is certainly intriguing, but most sleep specialists—including Plazzi—date the first unequivocal description of cataplexy to 1877, when German psychiatrist Karl Westphal presented a case at a meeting of the Berlin Medical and Psychological Society. [. . .]”   –Henry Nicholls, “Did Dante Alighieri Suffer From a Sleep Disorder?” LitHub (September 7, 2018)

The passage is an excerpt from Nicholls’s 2018 book Sleepyhead: The Neuroscience of A Good Night’s Rest.

See also the related discussion from The Guardian, posted here.

“Sending Trump to Hell,” by Ariel Dorfman

“My name, sir, is Dante Alighieri. Among the innumerable dead that inhabit these shores, I have been chosen to speak to you because an expert on the afterlife was needed to describe what awaits your soul when it passes, as all souls must, into this land of shadows. I was chosen, whether as an honor or not, to imagine your fate once you wind your way toward us.

“Having accepted this task, I was tempted, sir, as I watched your every act in that life before death, to make this easier for myself and simply conjure up the circles of Hell I had already described in my terza rima. I would then have guided you down my cascade of verses, step by step, into the depths of darkness I had designed for others.

“Were you not the selfish embodiment of so many sins I dealt with in my Commedia? Lust and adultery, yes! Gluttony, yes; greed and avarice, oh yes; wrath and fury, certainly; violence, fraud, and usury, yes again! Divisiveness and treachery, even heresy — you who did not believe in God and yet used the Bible as a prop — yes, one more time!”   –Ariel Dorfman, “Sending Trump to Hell,” Nation of Change (October 22, 2020)

Contributed by Justin Meckes

Beth Coggeshall and Deborah Parker on Purg. 16 for “Canto per Canto”

Deborah-Parker-Beth-Coggeshall-Purgatorio-16-Canto-per-Canto“’When I teach this canto I always like to get my students to think with me by analogy of other determining factors or determining forces that are external to ourselves, that we think of as placing some kind of condition or constraint on our free moral agency.’ To think about Purgatorio 16 ‘in light of the conversations about systemic racism and systemic injustices that we are confronting as a culture right now’ means to ask the right questions. Just like those that Dante asks Marco Lombardo. But it also means to entrust someone or something (Virgil? Reason?) in the dark, with our eyes bound to the fog, and with the intimate conviction of reaching the light, sooner or later, through questioning. Join Deborah Parker and Elizabeth Coggeshall in conversation about the compelling richness of this canto: the moral architecture of the poem, the visual aspects and its visual reception, the encounter with Marco Lombardo, the dichotomy ira bona (good anger)/iracondia (irascibility), the singing of penitents, the vacuum of leadership. All aspects that will lead to a concrete questioning of our modern society.”  –Maria Zilla

Watch or listen to the video of “Purgatorio 16: The Poem’s Moral Center” here.

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.