“In the Ninth Circle, A Misunderstood Angel”

“Cheeseburger eggrolls to the right,
The center head devoured beef nachos.
And on the left, the restaurant’s sickly lights,

Glistened off chicken wonton tacos.
My quarry swilled a foul-smelling elixir
As to his booth we walked-o.”    –Matthew Dessem, Slate, November 25, 2017

“Brakhage: When Light Meets Life”

“His mission, which he pursued with a zealous intensity, was to liberate the eye from such ‘prescribed’ ways of seeing. The insect wings, twigs, and fragments of flowers and leaves that he applied directly to strips of 16mm film in Mothlight (1963) and 35mm in The Garden of Earthly Delights (1981); the streaks and globs of paint that seem to shine with an inner illumination in films like The Dante Quartet (1987); the arcs of light that bend around the underwater surfaces of Boulder Creek in Commingled Containers (1996): Brakhage’s films train you to look at the world as if it were—as he wrote in the first paragraph of his 1963 book Metaphors on Vision—’alive with incomprehensible objects and shimmering with an endless variety of movement.’

[. . .]

“In these cases, figurative footage occasionally still appeared in odd and unexpected settings—one section of The Dante Quartet was painted over what Brakhage identified as ‘a worn-out 70mm print of Irma la Douce.'”    –Max Nelson, The New York Review of Books, June 8, 2017

Still from Brakhage’s film The Dante Quartet, 1987

Selva Oscura

Selva Oscura is a music documentary that explores the creative process during the making of a music video for the song ‘Stolidi Pensieri.’ It also references the opening of Dante’s Inferno and translates to ‘The Dark Forest.’ It’s symbolic of a journey to unknown destinations, which is also our story, as we accidentally created a living project that never had a predetermined outcome and led us in a direction where we were all free to experiment within our disciplines.”    –John Welsh, Vimeo, September 8, 2017

“How long will I be on Submission? (they sob)”

“The Wait haunts all stages of writing for publication. There are different levels of waiting, a bit like Dante’s circles of hell. Waiting for critique, waiting to hear from agents, waiting to receive edits, waiting for feedback on edits, waiting waiting waiting W A I T I N G.”    –Lindsay Galvin, LindsayGalvin.com, October 5, 2017

Francesco Gabbani, “Tra le granite e le granate” (2017)

“Oggi il paradiso costa la metà
Lo dice il venditore di felicità
In fuga dall’inferno, finalmente in viaggio
La tua vacanza in un pacchetto omaggio.”

Check out Francesco Gabbani’s 2017 album Magellano on Spotify.

Dave Sim’s Cerebus in Hell? (2017)

“The first new Cerebus comic since 2004! Where has Cerebus been since he died twelve years ago? Is he in hell? Purgatory? Limbo?”    — Rich Johnston, Bleeding Cool, June 22, 2016

Check out Dave Sim’s Doré-inspired 2017 Cerebus in Hell? here.

To read about the controversy surrounding the title (“Cerebus” vs. “Cerberus”), see Rich Johnston’s blogposts here and here.

All That Man Is (2017) by David Szalay

David Szalay’s All That Man Is, published in 2017 by Vintage, tells the stories of nine different men at varying stages of life, and explores the issues and psych of the 21st century man. The book was a finalist for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, and the winner of the 2016 Paris Review Plimpton Prize for Fiction. The fourth story of the novel cites the first three lines of the Inferno, as the story’s protagonist, a medieval scholar in crisis, drives into a pine forest.

“Pine forests on hillsides start to envelop them on the east side of the Main. And fog.

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
Ché la diritta via era smarrita

“Well, here it is. Dark pine forests, hemming the motorway. Shapes of fog throw themselves at the windscreen.” [. . .]    –David Szalay, All That Man Is (p. 146).

You can purchase Szalay’s book here.

The 9 Circles of Girls’ Clothing Hell

“Before your teenage daughter sighs, rolls her eyes and tells you she’ll only wear Hollister, you will be in charge of making clothing choices.

“Treasure this time of sartorial lack-of-autonomy, because it is fleeting.

“As the parent of a girl, one of the first decisions you’ll get to make is ‘Do I care whether people think my newborn infant is a boy or a girl or a genderless loaf of bread?’ Welcome to…The First Circle of Hell: Infant Implements of Discomfort.” […]    –Josette Plank, Scary Mommy, January 2017

And the Tenth Circle of Dante’s Hell is …

“Hell, Dante tells us, has nine circles, each one reserved for souls guilty of particular sins. The greedy, for example, go to the Third Circle, while heretics are flung down into the Fourth. If you’ve lived a lustful life, full of debauchery and fornication, you will find yourself in the second circle, writhing and naked with millions of other lustful souls who — wait, how exactly is that a punishment?  According to Dante, the worst Circles of Hell are reserved for fraudsters and traitors, suggesting that he’d had an unfortunate disagreement with his publisher over royalties. But the great Italian fell short in his demonic visions, because there is another Circle of Hell: the Tenth. It is a place of infinite suffering and utter despair, echoing with the wailing of the damned. It is a movie theatre called Cinepolis Junior.” […]    –Tom Eaton, Rand Daily Mail, March 14, 2017

Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell and the Internet Inferno

“I’ve seen several references to various social media apps and the Seven Deadly Sins, but as I consider the darkness that seems to breed in social media circles — from teen bullying on Snapchat and Instagram, to Twitter trolls threatening female reporters in India with rape and abuse, to child pornography on the Dark Web and the children who suffer miserably, literally living in hell for predators’ public pleasure — Dante’s Inferno comes to mind, and how this ancient story from 1300 might actually describe our reality right now, as we enter the Information Age of our human development.

[. . .]

“Unfortunately our technology is held hostage by the worst of us. Until we can turn the technology around and use it against those who commit such evil, we can’t get out of the woods. However, Dante and Virgil do make it out of Hell. Interestingly the poets cross through the barren wasteland and to the river of forgetfulness, emerging from Hell on Easter morning.

“I find it interesting that they must forget the darkness in order to leave Hell and make their way to Heaven, where true connection, love and solidarity await. What must we forget in order to fulfill the promise of the Internet and the idea of a globally connected world?

“Our hate? Our jealousy? Our anger? Our fear? Our ignorance? Our greed? Our lust? Our mistrust?

“I imagine so. In the meantime, our experiences online seem to be on one hand accelerating and enabling those who wish to sow the seeds of discontent and on the other hand bringing us together, enabling the collection and sharing of information and knowledge, and making us aware of those places and people in our community who are in need. If we can rid ourselves of our lower natures and focus on the fact that when we’re online, we’re actively creating a world together, perhaps someday we will hold Beatrice in our embrace, and finally find human connection at the deepest, most satisfying level.”    –Nicole Sallak Anderson, “Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell and the Internet Inferno,” Medium, October 25, 2017