“Walking With Dante” – The Colin McEnroe Show

On a 2015 episode of Connecticut Public Radio’s The Colin McEnroe Show, Colin McEnroe, Chion Wolf, and guests Joseph Luzzi, Ron Jenkins, and Rod Dreher discuss the dark wood of the Inferno.

“The story of The Divine Comedy is an adventure story based on Dante’s real life in 14th century Italy. He was deeply wrapped up in the politics of his time. He was a city official, diplomatic negotiator, poet, and a man who dared to cross the pope. He was exiled from his city, never to return under threat of death. He left all behind, except his unrequited love for Beatrice.

“Nearly broken and in a ‘dark wood’ of grief in midlife, Dante wrote a masterpiece that is remarkably relevant today for all of us who have ever been in the dark wood of loss. This hour, we talk to three people who walked with Dante through the dark wood.” [. . .]    –Betsy Kaplan, Connecticut Public Radio, September 28, 2015.

You can listen to the episode and check out the associated links on the WNPR site.

“Wandering from the Straight Path of Clarity,” review of “The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists”

“You may feel, at times, as if you’ve been handed a map, and then told that the map may or may not be accurate, may or may not relate to anything in the real world, may or may not be entirely a fiction, or a random design concocted by some clever trickster to mislead you. That is how the title of a new show at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art — ‘The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists’ — relates to the work on view, by more than 40 artists from 18 African countries.

“The exhibition is shoehorned into spaces not quite big enough for anything to breathe comfortably, filling temporary galleries, stairwells and passage spaces on four floors of the mostly subterranean museum. The current exhibition, curated by Simon Njami, is slightly smaller than the original Dante exhibition he presented in Frankfurt last spring, but it still sprawls, both in its physical layout (the route through its various rooms requires careful navigation) and intellectually.

“Consider one of the best works in the show, a large-scale drawing by Julie Mehretu, in which a finely etched suggestion of architectural facades is overlaid with a storm of delicate lines, smudges and erasures. In the catalogue, published in conjunction with the Frankfurt display, her work is listed as belonging to the ‘Purgatory’ part of the presentation; in Washington, it is in the ‘Inferno’ room. It isn’t the only work to migrate from one celestial realm to another, and those migrations suggest that the basic template borrowed from Dante is not to be taken too seriously.” […]    –Phillip Kennicott, The Washington Post, April 17, 2015

See also our post on the first iteration of Njami’s exhibition, featured at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s museum.

Winter Grocery Shopping With Toddlers Is The Tenth Circle Of Hell

“Grocery shopping with toddlers isn’t that much fun to begin with, but throw some -10ºF temperatures into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for hell on earth. Frigid, snowy weather on grocery day is almost enough to convince me we’ll somehow manage to survive on a few cans of button mushrooms and a jar of olives until the next week.

“Besides trying to corral tiny people who have mastered the art of ‘walking’ but not so much the art of ‘walking without careening into every other person/cart/carefully laid out pyramid of soup cans in the store’, the main problem with winter grocery shopping with small children is that it presents a series of obnoxious choices.” […]    –Aimee Ogden, Mommyish, February 23, 2015

Nine Circles of Writing Hell

9-circles-of-writing-hell“Today I don my Debbie Downer hat to discuss the circles of Writing Hell. Not surprising, the circle is an apt descriptor of the writing process because our thoughts go ’round and ’round…and ’round some more. The bad news: There is no escape for writers. The good news: There is no escape for writers.” — L.Z. Marie, L.Z. Marie, June 13, 2015

Read the full article here.

“On the Road with Dante” – Dante and Protestantism

“What might medieval Catholic poet Dante Alighieri teach Protestants today? A lot, actually. ” [. . .]

“While The Divine Comedy most clearly reflects the Catholic faith of the poet and his medieval world, it hints at some principles the Reformation would bring to bear on the church two centuries later. Dante purposely wrote in a low style that would have popular appeal despite its highly spiritual subject matter. While the church produced works in Latin, Dante wrote in the vernacular. His choice was revolutionary, ensuring the work could and would be read by common men as well as by women and children (who still study the work extensively in Italian schools today).

“Despite its loftiness, The Divine Comedy is firmly grounded in the gritty and the mundane. In fact, Dante didn’t use the word divine in his title. He simply titled it Commedia, which at the time meant a work with a happy ending as opposed to a tragic one. (The word ‘divine’ was added by a later editor and has stuck through the years.) In casting a fictional version of himself as the central figure, The Divine Comedy is prophetically personal, confessional, and autobiographical. In this way it emphasizes a surprisingly modern sense of self-determination, one that foreshadows the famous ‘Protestant work ethic.’ Moreover, in its accent on the salvation and purification of the individual soul, this work of the Catholic Dante anticipates the spiritual autobiographies of Puritans such as John Bunyan. The Divine Comedy is a story of someone seeking salvation. In Dante’s own words, the poem’s purpose is to lead readers from ‘a state of wretchedness to a state of happiness.’ And while depicting salvation in the afterlife, it’s clear Dante intends readers to find abundant life in the here and now.” [. . .]    –Karen Swallow Prior, The Gospel Coalition, October 21, 2015.

The Nine Circles of a Frequent Traveler’s Hell

“As St Francis and Kurt Vonnegut reminded us, we must accept the things that we cannot change, change the things we can, and have the wisdom to know the difference between the two.

“When things are ‘off’ from my regular routine, I get a bit anxious. I’d like to say I get cranky as well, but my form of cranky usually involves me harrumphing into a ball and blasting my Spotify playlists while devouring a new book on Kindle.

“That’s my particular manifestation of ‘wisdom to know the difference between the two,’ because books are good and public meltdowns are not.

“We’re all in this travel situation together, for whatever amount of time is left to unfold. How we treat each other and apply our wisdom to know the difference between controllable and uncontrollable change is what makes traveling with others a delight and also a burden.

“As I spent my thousandth train ride on the Amtrak Acela from Boston to New York City this past week with a seat back in my lap, I considered the various predicaments that traveling with other humans can create.

“Which, of course, brought me to Dante’s Inferno, and the nine circles of hell that a person can be sent to for their various sins in the living world.

“Obviously, your previous slights and misjudgments do not necessarily earn you the circle of traveling hell you may find yourself in. But if you travel frequently enough, you will at some point accidentally find yourself in each one.” [. . .]    –Elisa Doucette, Forbes, October 12, 2015.

Read Doucette’s full list of traveler’s hell here.

The Circles of Hell on a Trip to Mount Bromo (Indonesia)

Mount-Bromo-Indonesia-Ninth-Circle-Dantes-Inferno“Mount Bromo is located at about 4 hours drive from Surabaya, the capital of East Java, in Indonesia and it is part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. It is considered one of the top bucket list destinations in Indonesia, one of the places to visit in Indonesia. I suppose it deserves to be one of them.

“You see, I am an atheist and hardly a believer that heaven and hell exist. Yet, if I have to describe my experience in Mount Bromo, the first thing that comes to my mind are the Nine Circles of Hell of Dante’s Inferno. Much like Dante’s journey through hell, accompanied by his guide Virgil, I felt that I was also going through the nine circles, although in my case there was no real guide in sight but just other members of the tour group.” — Claudia Tavani, “Ring of Fire or Circle of Hell? Crossing Dante’s Inferno on Mount Bromo,” My Adventures Across the World, November 10, 2015

Read more about Tavani’s adventure on Mount Bromo here.

9 Circles of Parent Hell

“Some days parenting feels like nothing more than a series of bare-knuckle bouts in the gladiator pit of life. Some days it feels as if all you do is pick up the crumpled, inside-out socks of Satan’s spawn. Somehow we manage. We wade through the muck putting out fires. We fan the embers that need flaming, we keep the home fires burning long enough to cook dinner, and we do our best to avoid the nine circles of parenting hell.

“Not familiar with the 9 Circles of Parenting Hell? Let me fill you in.” — Wine and Cheese Doodles, March 7, 2015

Read the full article here.

“Inferno Strikes Dante’s Bar in U-District”

“Dante’s erupted into a small inferno Tuesday morning after overheated electrical wiring caused a blaze at the popular University District bar.

Firefighters were called about 9 a.m. to the bar in the 5300 block of Roosevelt Way Northeast, dispatch records show. Initial reports described light smoke emanating from the building, but responding firefighters entered the bar to find heavy smoke.

Because Dante’s is made up of three separate buildings that became connected over time, crews experienced difficulty finding the fire and dug through the bar’s walls and ceiling to track it down, Seattle Fire spokesman Kyle Moore said. The blaze has since been brought under control.” [. . .]    –Lynsi Burton, SeattlePI, August 18, 2015.

Unfortunately, in the years since this fire, Dante’s has been permanently closed, with the land bought for apartment development.

Seven Circles of Brunch Hell

“I love brunch. We love brunch. Combining breakfast and lunch into a cheesy, greasy, boozy weekend debauch is a brilliant idea, both in theory and in practice. This is an undeniable truth, and anyone who says otherwise is a largish fool. Lowercase-b brunch is heaven. But that’s not the only brunch there is.

“Capital-B Brunch, on the other hand, is dreadful. It’s ‘A Thing’: an ordeal, a project, a nouveau-riche McMansion built on the sandy foundations of deep insecurity and credit debt. It is ‘Brunchhhhhhhmyfuckinggodwhy.’ Capital-B Brunch is hell, and like hell, it has many circles. Here they are, arranged in rough chronological order based on when in your horrible, wretched life you will experience them.” — Dave Infante, Thrillist, August 12, 2015

Read the full article here.