“Ossessione Dalì”

ossessione-dali“Inizia l’11 luglio a Follonica uno degli eventi culturali più grave importanti dell’estate maremmana: ‘Ossessione Dalì’ il titolo della mostra che quest’anno si inserisce nella tradizione delle esposizioni itineranti di arte contemporanea del territorio grossetano.
‘Il fil rouge dell’esposizione sarà la Divina Commedia di Dante Alighieri, riletta dal maestro spagnolo attraverso cento tavole, realizzante per lo più in acquarello. Si tratta di trentatré trittici, ognuno dei quali è composto da tre tavole riferite rispettivamente al Paradiso, al Purgatorio e all’Inferno danteschi. Diversamente da quanto realizzato da altri pittori, Dalì non si limita ad illustrare i canti, ma li interpreta, trasformando i contenuti concettuali danteschi in avvenimenti visibili, senza tuttavia rinunciare al proprio approccio surrealista.
La Commedia del poeta toscano si presta così a regalare un vero e proprio excursus nell’arte di Dalì, che, nei 10 anni impiegati a completare l’opera, esprime nelle xilografie una miriade di linguaggi espressivi diversi: dalle allucinazioni degli anni Trenta al misticismo, dal metodo paranoico-critico alla poetica del molle, fino ad arrivare a riferimenti classici di alcuni dei suoi maestri ideali. La mostra proseguirà dopo Follonica a Castell’Azzara (26 agosto-18 settembre) e a Porto Santo Stefano (25 settembre-30 ottobre). Ogni sede espositiva organizza attività ludico-didattiche per bambini.”    –Alessandra Bartali, Corriere Fiorentino, July 7, 2011

Dante Shorts

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“Dante Shorts” by BB Dakota, Shopbop

Seth Gordon, “Horrible Bosses” (2011)

seth-gordon-horrible-bosses“. . .Is there a better place for expression than art? Whether releasing anger, oozing sexuality or spilling sorrow via an artistic means or simply ingesting someone else’s version of it and laughing uproariously, a creative outlet is our healthy friend. As I sat in my Dante’s Inferno class less than 24 hours after seeing Horrible Bosses, I couldn’t help but laugh at how Dante, too, was doing just that in the 1300s–using his poetry gift to banish real people to eternal punishment in “the hurricane of Hell in perpetual motion.”
Dante doesn’t just send people to one big place called Hell, he parses according to the level of sin, whether or not they wronged him personally, and even singles some of them out for an extra dose of suffering. That it is methodical and medieval makes it all the more riveting.
The rest of us wind up rooting, projecting our own frustrations and ill will onto characters in a book or on screen. We rub our hands together and lick our chops at seeing where people eventually ‘go’ or how they’ll be categorized. In Horrible Bosses, there are sins of greed and carnal yearnings by the one-dimensional bosses, intent to murder by the average-guy employees and even an in-between — the hit man played by Jamie Foxx who steals but isn’t what he portrays himself to be.” [. . .]    –Nancy Colasurdo, Fox Business, July 6, 2011

Craig Johnson, “Hell is Empty” (2011)

craig-johnson-hell-is-empty-2011“. . . And then there is this: ‘Hell Is Empty’ is a homage to Dante’s Inferno. Johnson has taken images and allusions from that great work about hell, written in the 14th century, and plugged them into his narrative, weaving added meaning into the book and an extra challenge for those readers wishing to search them out.
Early on, readers see that Longmire’s deputy, Santiago ‘Sancho’ Saizarbitoria, is carrying with him a copy of Dante’s Inferno. Johnson mentions it several times – pointing to its hidden role in the book – and Walt later takes a look into Sancho’s copy and stumbles across the opening:
‘At one point midway on our path in life, I found myself searching through a dark wood, the right way blurred and lost.’
Walt’s response? ‘Boy howdy.’
Boy howdy, indeed. And so it begins, Walt’s plunge into his own personal hell – both literally and figuratively – filled with allusions to Inferno. Just a few: Walt travels up a mountain – as did Dante. He walks across a frozen lake – as did Dante. He is greeted by a lion – yes, it’s a mountain lion, but so what? And Walt nearly is consumed in a fire.
There are many others. It will be interesting to see Johnson’s fans put together lists and post them on the Internet.
I can tell you that ‘Hell’ sent me scuttling to my bookshelf for a copy of Inferno to see what I could reference. (I also spent a weekend reviewing a SparksNotes synopsis of the great poem in preparation for this review. Please don’t tell my high school English teacher.)
Perhaps the greatest allusion, and another level of the book, is pointed to by Walt’s guide, a Crow Indian named Virgil who first appeared in Johnson’s fourth novel, ‘Another Man’s Moccasins.’
It is no coincidence that the guide’s name is Virgil – Dante was led through hell by the Roman poet of that name. But what comes in doubt as ‘Hell Is Empty’ proceeds is whether Virgil really exists at all. Is he alive? A dream figure? A hallucination? A ghost? The reader must decide that for him or herself – as does Walt.
But Virgil is not just a mountain guide. He also becomes a spiritual guide for Longmire. This book is about a lot more than just a chase in the mountains. Rather, it digs deep into questions of life and death and afterlife. No small task for a 320-page thriller.” [. . .]    –D. Reed Eckhardt, Wyoming News, 26 June 2011

“Shadows of the Damned” Video Game Review

shadows-of-the-damned-review “Unrestrained. That just about sums up Shadows of the Damned. A surreal, indulgent collaboration between Killer7 director Suda51 and Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, Shadows of the Damned mixes the personal oeuvre of its creators without much thought for consequence. Stylish but vulgar. Inventive but mechanically routine. Contradictions lie in Shadows’ black heart. The thought of an auteur such as Suda51 embracing an attitude of punk-rock video game making is thrilling, but such exuberance needs channelling. Killer7 was focussed insanity; No More Heroes was shrouded in existential irony. Shadows of the Damned is a mariachi retelling of Dante’s Inferno with knob gags and big guns. You perhaps see the issue” […]    –Tom Higgins, The Telegraph, July 05, 2011

Claire’s: “the Tenth and Final Circle of Hell…”

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“If poet Dante Alighieri had had a daughter, and if there had been a Claire’s – the little girl accessory retailer – in Florence back then, I am sure the author of the Divine Comedy would have included the store as the tenth and final circle of Hell” […]     –Lisa Gibalerio, Belmont Patch, July 5, 2011

Dante at the Supreme Court

dante-at-the-supreme-court“From Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in today’s case involving violent video games, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Assn.: California’s argument would fare better if there were a longstanding tradition in this country of specially restricting children’s access to depictions of violence, but there is none.  Certainly the books we give children to read — or read to them when they are younger — contain no shortage of gore. . . In the Inferno, Dante and Virgil watch corrupt politicians struggle to stay submerged beneath a lake of boiling pitch, lest they be skewered by devils above the surface . . . Justice Alito accuses us of pronouncing that playing violent video games “is not different in ‘kind'” from reading violent literature.  Well of course it is different in kind, but not in a way that causes the provision and viewing of violent video games, unlike the provision and reading of books, not to be expressive activity and hence not to enjoy First Amendment protection.  Reading Dante is unquestionably more cultured and intellectually edifying than playing Mortal Kombat.  But these cultural and intellectual differences are not constitutional ones.  Crudely violent video games, tawdry TV shows, and cheap novels and magazines are no less forms of speech than The Divine Comedy, and restrictions upon them must survive strict scrutiny[.]” […]    –Marc DeGirolami, Mirror of Justice, June 27, 2011

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

Dante in Barcelona

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Contributed by Peter Edmunds (Bowdoin ’14)

Fiat 500 in the U.S.

fiat-500-in-the-us “FOR fans of Italian cars — those with positive recollections, anyway — the high-profile introduction of the Fiat 500 to the United States this year holds the promise of a long-awaited brand renaissance. But for the 500 to be a genuine success, paving the way for a full line of European driver’s cars to follow, its appeal would have to be more durable than a pretty face and an attractive body. My quest to plumb the 500’s inner beauty recently took me on a long drive that included stops in Naples, Verona, Florence, Rome and Venice. . .
Next up, Dante’s autobahn — the New Jersey Turnpike, where treacherous merges and construction projects large enough to be seen from outer space were made all the more entertaining by an afternoon of ark-building rain. But the Fiat was absolutely composed: precise steering, no hydroplaning and brakes that grabbed more aggressively than Tony Soprano at the Bada Bing.” […]    –Towle Tompkins, The New York Times, May 20, 2011

Rahul Bhattacharya, “The Sly Company of People Who Care” (2011)

rahul-bhattacharya-the-sly-company-of-people-who-care-2011“In the opening paragraph of Rahul Bhattacharya’s first novel, The Sly Company of People Who Care, the unnamed narrator, a former cricket journalist from India, declares his intentions for his life, and thus his story — to be a wanderer, or in his words, ‘a slow ramblin’ stranger.’ That rambling, through the forests of Guyana; the ruined streets of its capital, Georgetown; and out to the borders of Brazil and Venezuela, constitutes the novel’s central action. But its heart lies in the exuberant and often arresting observations of a man plunging himself into a world full of beauty, violence and cultural strife.
It’s impossible, reading Bhatta­charya, not to be reminded of V. S. Naipaul, even if he weren’t referred to several times throughout the story. Naipaul defined the lonely, empty middle ground occupied by the descendants of Indian immigrants living in Africa and the Caribbean who no longer belong to any nation. Bhatta­charya’s narrator, despite having been born and raised in India, occupies similar territory, having given up on his country and the identity that was supposed to come with it. By and large, though, the similarities end there. Unlike Naipaul’s disillusioned protagonists, who stand perpetually outside the world they live in, Bhattacharya’s narrator is thoroughly invested in Guyana and its striking blend of cultures, born out of colonization, slavery and indentured servitude. If anything, he is more reminiscent of Dante in the case of the Commedia, a careful listener and observer who, while in exile, faithfully records the stories that come his way.” [. . .]    –Dinaw Mengestu, The New York Times, May 13, 2011