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

Mapping Dante’s Inferno, One Circle of Hell at a Time

“I found myself, in truth, on the brink of the valley of the sad abyss that gathers the thunder of an infinite howling. It was so dark, and deep, and clouded, that I could see nothing by staring into its depths.”

“This is the vision that greets the author and narrator upon entry the first circle of Hell—Limbo, home to honorable pagans—in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of his 14th-century epic poem, Divine Comedy. Before Dante and his guide, the classical poet Virgil, encounter Purgatorio and Paradiso, they must first journey through a multilayered hellscape of sinners—from the lustful and gluttonous of the early circles to the heretics and traitors that dwell below. This first leg of their journey culminates, at Earth’s very core, with Satan, encased in ice up to his waist, eternally gnawing on Judas, Brutus, and Cassius (traitors to God) in his three mouths. In addition to being among the greatest Italian literary works, Divine Comedy also heralded a craze for “infernal cartography,” or mapping the Hell that Dante had created.

“This desire to chart the landscape of Hell began with Antonio Manetti, a 15th-century Florentine (like Dante himself) architect and mathematician. He diligently worked on the “site, form and measurements” of Hell, assessing, for example, the width of Limbo—87.5 miles across, he calculated. There are several theories for why it was so important then to delineate Dante’s Hell, including the general popularity of cartography at the time and the Renaissance obsession with proportions and measurements.” […]    –Anika Burgess, Atlas Obscura, July 13, 2017

Dante’s Inferno the Hip Hop Artist

Dante’s Inferno is a hip hop artist who released their first EP Hot N’ Cold on December 25th, 2017. Their particular brand of rap/hip hop is a mix of personal, sometimes funny lyrics backed by a chill, sometimes lo-fi hip hop sound. The song “Deep Freezin'” from Hot N’ Cold is a great representation of his hip hop sound, which you can listen to here on Soundcloud. Dante’s Inferno distinguishes himself from other artists by taking on the persona of a demon in his music, with frequent references to Hell in his lyrics and a generally dark, gothic vibe.

You can check out the Hot N’ Cold EP on Apple Music, and you can visit the Dante’s Inferno Soundcloud to listen to his singles as well.

The Tenth Circle of Hell: Dealing with Insurance Companies

“In the years following my melanoma removal, I sometimes found myself without health insurance. This was before the ACA allowed kids to stay on their parent’s insurance until they turned twenty-six and my post-college temp job didn’t offer health benefits.

“When I did finally get a job that offered insurance, I had to pay twice as much as my peers because of my cancer history — and if it had been higher than stage II, they wouldn’t have covered me at all.

“I was appalled because I had been cancer-free for ten years at that point and I was otherwise very healthy. But they’re no dummies. I’m pretty sure they knew the cancer would come back before it ever would have crossed my mind and they weren’t about to put money on a horse they knew wouldn’t win.” — Lanie Brewster Quinn, Stupid Cancer Blog, May 14, 2017

Read more of the article here.

Guy Denning’s Oil Painting Series on the Commedia

Guy Denning is an artist based out of Finistere, France since 2007. Beginning in 2011, he created a three part series of oil paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. The image above is a painting called “ch’io ‘l vidi uomo di sangue e di crucci” from his first series, ‘Inferno‘ (2011).

“In 2011 he presented ‘Inferno’, the first part of his three-part series of oil paintings on Dante’s Commedia in Bologna; this was his first exhibition in Italy and the complete exhibition sold out.
In 2011, he presented the second part of the series in New York City for the exhibition ‘Purgatorio’. Originally drawing inspiration from Dante’s writings, his intention was not to recreate the poem in a visual or literal sense, but instead let the ‘Purgatorio’ series act as a framework for his own personal interpretation of the world following 9/11. As with the writing of Shakespeare, Denning finds a perpetual relevance in Dante’s work where the specifics of name, situation and place are easily adapted to the modern world; as if time moves on but the problems of humanity remain essentially the same. The events of September 11th and the emotional toll it took on the US identity was a critical element to this body of work. Poignantly enough, this exhibition was held in a ‘pop-up’ location just blocks from Ground Zero and on the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.” [. . .]    —Widewalls Magazine, 2017

On exhibition set- “Inferno”

“This was the first part of my paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Inferno was exhibited at my first solo exhibition in Italy at MAGI’900 Museo, Bologna.”     –Guy Denning, on his site, January 19, 2017

On exhibition set- “Purgatorio”

“This was the second part of my paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Purgatorio was exhibited in Manhattan at a pop-up gallery space by Brooklynite Gallery on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.”    –Guy Denning, on his site, January 30, 2017.

The image above to the right is a painting called “the cardinal virtue of media temperance” from the ‘Purgatorio‘ exhibition.

On exhibition set- “Paradiso”

“This was the third part of my paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Paradiso was exhibited at Signal Gallery in London.”    –Guy Denning, on his site, January 27, 2017.

The image below is a painting called “Looking for Beatrice” from the ‘Paradiso‘ exhibiton.

To view Denning’s full list of exhibitions, check out his website here

Nine Circles of Finals Hell at UConn

“For those of you who blew off going to class a majority of the semester, than you will most definitely find yourself in one of the nine circles of finals hell: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud, or treachery.

“First Circle: Limbo:
‘Ignorance is bliss’ as some might say. In the beginning stage of finals hell, we all like to tell ourselves that we’ll eventually get around to studying. But in reality, your studious friends are camped out in Laurel Hall, and you spend the two weeks leading up to finals taking all the naps you don’t deserve in those comfy chairs at the Benton.” — The Black Sheep Online Staff, The Black Sheep Online, December 11, 2017

Read the full article here.

Savannah Fire on the Serengeti

savannah-fire-serengeti-2017“Fire ecology is a fascinating subject. I always get a bit of a buzz when I find a fire image in Snapshot Serengeti. Fire is a major component of savannah ecosystems and the grasses and trees within them have evolved along with fire, some to such an extent that they cannot exist without the occasional burn…

“As the dry season progresses the deep verdant greens start to fade to yellow, the temperature mounts into the high 30’s and the strong Harmattan winds pick up. The landscape is a mosaic of tall savannah grasslands divided by fingers of thick lush riverine habitat. The climatic conditions bring violent lightning storms which, given the tinder dry grasses, can trigger natural bush fires. Of course this process is random, not every patch of grass will burn every year unlike the human induced fires that sweep this part of Central African Republic year after year.

[. . .]

“The day I have been dreading finally comes. Fire is spotted 5km from the camp and it is racing towards our fire break, a team rushes out to light a back burn to try and stop it in its tracks but the wind does us no favours and within hours we can see the flames as they burn behind the camp perimeter. I am feeling panicky but although it looks like Dante’s inferno the danger has passed as the fire makes its way along the north side of the airstrip. Then disaster strikes the wind, capricious as ever, changes direction just as the fire reaches the end of the airstrip and a great gust of hot ash and embers jumps the fire break and the fire starts racing up the south side of the airstrip. And all hell breaks loose; we never expected it to get into this block.” — Lucy Hughes, Snapshot Serengeti, March 1, 2017

Read more of the article here.