The SEC vs. Cryptocurrency: From Dante to Facebook

“The Securities and Exchange Commission, the multibillion dollar agency that safeguards investors, presently stands on the precipice of the layer Dante reserved for the indecisive. For, nearly a decade after Bitcoin burst onto the scene in 2010, there has been no concrete attempt at delineating purchaser from investor in the cryptocurrency market—indeed, it appears the agency is content to provide guidance regarding fraud and custody rather than defining products and attendant responsibilities for those soliciting funds for digital conversion.

“In the 14th century, Dante Alighieri forever shaped our vision of a retributive afterlife with his Divine Comedy. Tellingly, the first “level of hell” introduced therein was populated by those who could not decide (‘those who lived without occasion for infamy or praise’); to the celebrated Renaissance poet, those habiting the sidelines of history could hope for limbo, at best, in the final judgment.” […]    –J. Scott Colesanti, New York Law Journal, July 31, 2019

Reviewed: Dante’s Divine Comedy by Ian Thomson

“Ian Thomson’s eclectic and erudite romp through the work of Dante Alighieri – born in Florence in 1265, died in Ravenna in 1321 – features sharp observations and piquant elucidations concerning Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy) and its author.

“Thomson sets the tone from the off, beginning with an amusing epigraph which ran in Private Eye in December 2017, a `Very Late News’ about how the 14th century Italian poet Dante Alighieri and how he would be glad to see the back of that year, saying  ‘Phew, I’ve been trapped in this circle of hell for so long, I can’t wait to get out of it.’

“As for the matter in hand, this welcome book – whose subtitle is A Journey Without End  – is no skit, despite the Private Eye reference. Dorothy L Sayers offers a more relevant reflection on the work of the great Florentine in another epigraph to the work. ‘To understand Dante is not, of course, necessary to believe what he believed, but it is, I think, necessary to understand what he believed.’

“There have been myriad translations in English of Divina Commedia including a recent offering from Clive James, which appears to have won some and lost some fans – a quote from Ciaran Carson’s version is favoured instead for the back cover.” […]    –Paddy Kehoe, RTE, January 14, 2019

Le LA du Monde a film directed by Ghislaine Avan

“Tap-dancer, choreographer, and video artist, Ghislaine Avan has been working since 2006 to achieve a choreographic and transmedia work inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy.

“The diptych includes a choreographic ensemble of 10 pieces entitled Seuil (Threshold), and a film entitled Le LA du Monde, the result of filming, since 2006, people around the world, from all backgrounds, nationalities and in all languages, reading an excerpt from Dante’s poem.”

Of the project’s goals, the artist lists the following:

  • “Celebrating on September 14, 2021, the 700th Anniversary of Dante’s death.
  • “Realizing/Creating a worldwide installation entitled Divine Babel: the simultaneous screening of the film Le LA du Monde with the 100 cantos of the Comedy projected on 100 screens, located in 100 different places around the world.
  • “Representing all continents to make this Babel truly divine.”

View the English trailer for “Le LA du Monde” on YouTube.

Contributed by Ghislaine Avanghi

“Dante, Trump and the moral cowardice of the G.O.P.”

“One of John F. Kennedy’s favorite quotes was something he thought came from Dante: ‘The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.’

“As it turns out, the quote is apocryphal. But what Dante did write was far better, and it came vividly to mind last week as Republicans failed to take a stand after President Trump’s racist tweets and chants of ‘Send her back,’ directed at Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who immigrated here from Somalia, at a Trump rally in North Carolina.

“In Dante’s Inferno, the moral cowards are not granted admission to Hell; they are consigned to the vestibule, where they are doomed to follow a rushing banner that is blown about by the wind. When Dante asks his guide, Virgil, who they are, he explains:

‘This miserable way is taken by sorry souls of those who lived without disgrace and without praise.

They now commingle with the coward angels, the company of those who were not rebels nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.’

“They are destined to be forgotten. ‘The world will let no fame of theirs endure,’ Virgil explains. ‘Let us not talk of them, but look and pass.’ Dante describes the vast horde who chase after the elusive banner that ‘raced on so quick that any respite seemed unsuited to it.’ Behind the banner, he writes, ‘trailed so long a file/ of people—I should never have believed/ that death could have unmade so many souls.’

“And to those ranks we can now add all the politicians, pundits and camp followers who refused to take a stand when they were confronted with this stark moral choice posed by Mr. Trump’s racist attacks on four minority freshmen Democratic women.” [. . .]    –Charles Sykes, America, the Jesuit Review, July 21, 2019.

Contributed by Martin Kavka, Florida State University

After 700 years, Dante could finally be on his way home to Florence

“Seven centuries after the poet Dante was exiled from Florence, the Tuscan city wants him back – or at least what remains of him.

“The author of The Divine Comedy was banished from Florence for political reasons and eventually died in Ravenna on the Adriatic coast, where his remains are kept in a huge white tomb.

“Now Florence is probing the possibility of bringing him back ‘home’ for the 700th anniversary of his death, to be commemorated in 2021.

“Reclaiming the remains of the poet is potentially big business – around 400,000 people visit his tomb in Ravenna each year. [. . .]

“His remains are held in a tomb next to the Basilica of St Francis and Florence supplies the oil for the lamp that illuminates his resting place, in a perpetual act of penance for having banished him.

“Florence would like to have Dante back, for a limited period rather than permanently, in time for the 2021 commemorations of his death.

“But keenly aware of the intense regional rivalries and jealousy that still exist between Italy’s former city states, it is proceeding diplomatically.” [. . .]  — Nick Squires, The Telegraph, July 31, 2019.

Contributed by Cathy Robison, Clemson University

Jaipal Reddy — Congressman who quoted Dante, Kant & called politicians ‘wild animals’

“New Delhi: Think of a minister who can publicly say politicians are ‘wild animals’ who need to be kept in check. Probably none today, not after former union minister S. Jaipal Reddy passed away Sunday morning.

“Many of his colleagues remember his witty remarks — often blended with quotes ranging from Italian poet Dante and German philosopher Immanuel Kant to English playwright William Shakespeare and many more. But the cerebral politician was equally known for his convictions.” […]    –D.K. Singh, The Print, July 28, 2019

World’s Best Bar 2019: New York’s “Dante” Wins Top Spot

“New York’s Dante reached cocktail paradise tonight when it was named World’s Best Bar at the 2019 Spirited Awards in New Orleans during this year’s Tales of the Cocktail. The bar, which opened in 2015 in what was once a famous Greenwich Village coffee house, Caffe Dante, was also named Best American Restaurant Bar for the second time in three years (which, under the rules of the Spirited Awards, means it is now retired from the the category). Among the American bars, Dante beat out local competitor Gramercy Tavern, Houston’s Better Luck Tomorrow, and Louisville’s Silver Dollar.

“The awards ceremony was introduced by Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Bryan Cranston, who just launched a mezcal called Dos Hombres with his Breaking Bad costar Aaron Paul. ‘People suggested we call it Methcal,’ Cranston joked in his welcoming remarks. Earlier in the week, the two actors were slinging drinks at New Orleans’ iconic Napoleon House and Cranston, who admitted how much more respect he now has for bartenders, confessed that he endured two non-lethal injuries during his three-hour shift—cuts on his hands from the cocktail shakers.” […]    –Karla Alindahao, Forbes, July 20, 2019

A Profound Meditation on Hell

When I had journeyed half of our life’s way, I found myself within a shadowed forest, for I had lost the path that does not stray …’

“So opens the 14th-century poem Divina Comedia (The Divine Comedy) by Dante Alighieri.

“The blurb on the back cover of a new book, Spiritual Direction From Dante: Avoiding the Infernoby Oratorian Father Paul Pearson, tells its readers that no prior knowledge of the celebrated text is necessary to appreciate or enjoy its riches: “Reading Dante not required!” That is because Father Pearson gives an excellent explanation of the poem, and both its cultural and spiritual significance, in just over 300 pages.

“Fusing practical advice about how to live one’s Christian vocation with a piece of high art from the Middle Ages is not an easy thing to do. Father Pearson carries it off superbly, and while doing so, he gives the reader a fresh appreciation of Divina Comedia.

“The structure of the book is a straightforward journey through the 34 cantos that make up the first part of the poem, namely, Inferno (hell). For anyone unfamiliar with Divina Comedia, this epic poem recounts how Dante, accompanied by the pagan poet Virgil, journeys through the many circles of hell, purgatory and then heaven.” […]    –K.V. Turley, National Catholic Register, June 8, 2019

Dante’s Inferno: Too Darn Hot in Derby Trial

“The outstanding two-year-old of 2018 gets his first chance to show if he can be the outstanding three-year-old of 2019. We are set to learn plenty but one thing is clear – Too Darn Hot is returning in one darn hot Dante.

“Andrew Lloyd Webber’s unbeaten son of Dubawi spent the winter dominating the 2,000 Guineas market after ending his juvenile season with the same Racing Post Rating posted by the mighty Frankel as a two-year-old. However, the runaway Dewhurst Stakes winner failed to make the Newmarket Classic.

“Instead, he makes a belated return as clear favourite for a wonderfully exciting Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes – but no longer as favourite for the Investec Derby.” […]    –Lee Mottershead and David Jennings, Racing Post, May 16, 2019

The Social Media of Hell

“People, especially people’s troubles, are not fit entertainment, but can be entertaining. That’s not good. We need justice, but doing justice is not so we can make a Netflix series and gaze slack jawed at the bad guys and marvel at their talk.

“A Christian is called to love his enemies and that’s hard to do if they are providing your amusement for the evening. Social media can send a swarm of us after the latest example of someone breaking down or being taken down on Twitter.

“When I participate, I am going down to Hell and listening to the endless natter, the continuous stream of accusations, justifications, and whines that mark the damned or so Dante’s Inferno would suggest. There Dante gets stuck in a dangerous place, because he wishes to hear the social media stream of damnation.” […]    –John Mark N. Reynolds, Patheos, April 2, 2019