Historyteachers, “The Divine Comedy” (Blondie, “Rapture”)

historyteachers-the-divine-comedy-blondie-rapture

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Contributed by Lisa Flannagan

To Hell and Back: EA’s Guerrilla Marketing Campaign for Dante’s Inferno

dantes-inferno“The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Take, for example, the marketing of Electronic Arts’s blockbuster new video game, Dante’s Inferno. Last year, the company set about trying to educate the public not only about the game but about a 14th-century literary classic and the very nature of human morality. What ensued was one of the most complex campaigns in video-game history, one that got EA burned for fakery and sexism, and then—thanks to a bold change of direction—lauded for intellect and creativity. It’s also a case study in surprising frugality, with a $200,000 guerrilla budget that yielded 47 million impressions of coverage. Today, AdFreak walks you through the nine circles of hell with the man who led the innovative and controversial marketing campaign for Dante’s Inferno. So, put on your asbestos gloves and get ready to descend into damnation, after the jump.” []    –David Griner, AdWeek, February 24, 2010

Lyn White

lyn-white“Lyn White is the slender, blonde, former South Australian police senior constable who, armed with a hand-held video camera, descended into the depravity of Indonesia’s most hellish abattoirs. Her footage invoking all the blood, wailing, and terror of Dante’s Inferno as Australian cattle were tortured and brutalised before slaughter was broadcast on Four Corners last month and has caused a backlash against Australia’s live export trade so quick and so vehement that the Government has suspended the trade to Indonesia.” [. . .]    –Emma Macdonald, The Canberra Times, July 2, 2010 (retrieved on July 7, 2011)

“Three Lost Cantos From Dante’s Inferno”

three-lost-cantos-from-dantes-inferno “XXXV: Cell-Phone Users
The users of cell-phones in quiet places
Have merited scorn from all classes and races.
They talk to their pals with cocky assurance
While you bury your head in your book with endurance.
The gestures they make are of course unavailing
It looks like unseen taxis that they are hailing.
Their punishment, as each millennium passes,
Is to be drowned out forever by the braying of asses.”

“XXXVI: ‘Reply-to-All’-ers
We came to the furthest reach of hell-
A place that email users know well.
The woman or man whose unmitigated gall
Causes him or her to hit “Reply all”.
I don’t mean to work myself into a snith
But they ought to know better-it clogs server bandwidth.
For these folks a punishment fit for their crimes-
They’re surrounded and hounded by fast-talking mimes.”

“XXXVII: Credit Card Coffee Buyers
The lousy cup is called a “tall”–
the cost of it is rather small.
Those who chose to charge the price
In this ring are treated not-so-nice.
If plastic was the tender you used to pay
While the time of those in line wasted away
You will for eternity be burnt like toast
With free trade coffee, decaf dark roast.”    –Con Chapman

Available to read on Fictionaut.com (posted July, 2010).

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

De Vulgari Eloquentia, the Board Game

de-vulgari-eloquentia-the-board-game “Italy, late Middle Ages. The fabric merchants need to write down their contracts in a language that everyone can understand and the literates are looking for an alternative to the elite of the traditional Latin language. So, the Volgare, the language spoken by the common people, taken from the dialects spoken in the various Italian regions, starts to gain relevance. During this period, Francesco D’Assisi writes his famous Canticle of the Sun and Dante writes the Divine Comedy – both written in Volgare. The players will have to do their part in the creation of this new language!
But who will provide them the proper knowledge to understand the manuscripts in the different dialects? Who will succeed to uncover the secrets of the books inside the Papal Library? Who will embrace the religious life and who will remain a merchant? Some of the players can become a famous banker, someone else can climb the church’s hierarchy to be the next Pope! But in the end, who will be the most appreciated and respected for his status and his culture?”    —Z-Man Games

See also: interview with the designer, Mario Papini.

Yi Zhou, The Ear (2009), The Greatness (2010)

“Imagine that van Gogh, after slicing off his ear, finds himself sucked down a passage into his own brain, which turns out to be the concentric onion of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Then capture that journey with three-dimensional digital imaging software and turn it, frame by computerized frame, into a five-minute animated movie. [. . .]

“She had her first breakthrough when she was taken on by the Jerome de Noirmont gallery in Paris in 2002. Since then, she has had a major sculpture and video projection work, ‘Paradise,’ installed in the Piazza della Signoria and the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, in 2006 [. . .].

“Ms. Zhou’s solo show of video art, ink brush drawings and sculpture at Shanghai Contrasts, running to Dec. 9, is built around her most recent film, The Greatness, a variation on the theme of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

“The film is a sequel to The Ear: both star Pharrell Williams, one in the flesh and the other as a sculpted vase, and both explore transience and death. In The Greatness, Mr. Williams’s look-alike vase, shattered by a bullet, disintegrates into a fractured universe while the bullet, like Dante guided by Virgil, travels through visions of hell and redemption accompanied by an other-worldly soundtrack composed by Mr. Morricone.” [. . .]    –Claudia Barbieri, The New York Times, December 1, 2010

Read more about The Greatness, on Vice.

Hell on Earth

dantes-inferno-on-grand-cayman-island

“In Grand Cayman, Dante’s Inferno comes to life in the form of jagged, black limestone formations that rise from dark, still waters. This creepy but artful landscape, which you cannot trek on but instead view from platforms, deserves its name: Many of the rocks, some resembling stalagmites, are sharp and menacing.”  […]
“The more curmudgeonly among us might call the holidays, to (mis)quote David Foster Wallace, “a sneaky keyhole view of hell.” These days, hell is whatever we want it to be: other people (Sartre), ourselves (Oscar Wilde), a half-filled auditorium (Robert Frost). So much of our idea of hell comes from literature, rather than religion–Dante’s and Milton’s allegories, in particular–it’s hard to imagine a time when hell was more geological than metaphorical. Not so long ago, it was thought to be a real physical place beneath the earth’s crust with secret entrances in caves, volcanoes, underground rivers, and bubbling pools of boiling mud.” [. . .]    –Megan Cytron, Salon, December 26, 2010

Dante Project, Wesleyan University – Prison Outreach

dante-project-wesleyan-university-prison-outreach“. . .Dr. Jenkins, who has taught in Wesleyan’s theater department for 11 years, introduced prison outreach into the curriculum in 2007, bringing students to the York Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Niantic, to work with inmates on literary classics. In 2009 and 2010, they began concentrating on ‘Inferno’; this year, because of construction at York, the class took place at the men’s facility in Niantic, the J.B. Gates Correctional Institution. . .
The semester culminated with performances. The Gates inmates presented their work to their peers, and at Wesleyan, the students performed the writings of the inmates for the college community. In the classroom at Sing Sing, the inmates performed for the Wesleyan students, and then the students presented the Gates men’s words, for which they received a standing ovation from the inmates. All of the performances ended with the same line, the last of the poem: ‘E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle.’ “And then we emerged to look again at the stars.” [. . .]    –Susan Hodara, The New York Times, December 24, 2010

Seymour Chwast’s Adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (2010)

seymour-chwast-adaptation-of-dantes-divine-comedy-2010“‘I, Dante, will tell you the story of my trip to the after world… but will I come back?’ So begins Seymour Chwast’s noirish graphic adaptation of what is perhaps the world’s most famous tale of spiritual tourism, the Divine Comedy. The list of artists who have tried their hand at visually interpreting Dante’s epic is both long and distinguished, but it would be safe to say that Chwast, a co-founder of Push Pin Studios and a longtime contributor to The New Yorker, may have had the most fun with the subject since Dante himself. . .
The book is more than an original take on Dante, though. It also represents Chwast’s fresh take on the graphic novel. Chwast eschews the expected rhythm of comic panels in favor of stunning drawings that leap and tumble all over the page. One of my favorite moments is a glorious two-page spread depicting the Emperor Justinian and a chorus line of flappers and vaudeville performers as they dance a welcome to Dante (and us) across a divine expanse. Justinian, of course, is dressed to the heavenly nines in a nineteen-thirties-style pinstripe suit, vest, and bow tie, and is sporting what one can only assume is his trademark pencil mustache.”    –Jordan Awan, The New Yorker, November 15, 2010

A Christmas Present for Virgil

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(source unknown – retrieved on December 5, 2010)