“Dante’s Inferno: Can Pettis Reignite His 49ers Career?”

“For some, failure fuels the fire. 49ers WR Dante Pettis has been accustomed to failure as of late. Dennis Waitley once said, ‘Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end.’

“49ers WR Dante Pettis has become accustomed to failure as of late. Though Pettis’ team was incredibly successful in 2019, Pettis’ contributions towards that success were mostly unnoticeable. Once a highly touted 2nd-round draft pick, Pettis found himself slotted to be a starting WR for the 49ers heading into the 2019 season.”   –Gilbert Brink, 49ers Webzone, 2020

Read the full article here.

“Dante is remembered most for his depiction of hell. This sculptor wants us to remember heaven, too.”

“VATICAN CITY (RNS) — In preparation for the 700 anniversary of the death of medieval poet Dante Alighieri, a Canadian artist is creating a sculptural tribute to his ‘Divine Comedy’ that would be the first sculptural rendition of the entire poem.

“‘In our culture Dante is becoming lost,’ said sculptor Timothy Schmalz in an interview with Religion News Service on Monday (July 20).

“Not only is Dante less and less required reading, Schmalz said, but his ‘Divine Comedy’ is often misrepresented by putting the focus only on the first part — the descriptions of hell and its fiery punishments.

“The Italian poet captivated generations by telling his imaginary journey through hell, purgatory and heaven. His use of popular Italian dialect in his writing, instead of the more high-brow Latin, earned him a title as the ‘Father of the Italian Language.’

“’Because I am a Christian sculptor I will right this wrong,’ Schmalz said. ‘I will do what has never been done before in the history of sculpture, which is to create a sculpture for each canto of the ”Divine Comedy.””  –Claire Giangravé, America, 2020

Read the full article here.

“Trump 2020: The Divine Comedy” 3d interactive videogame

Trump 2020 is an online 3D video game built by Together We Can Defeat Capitalism (TWCDC), a project of Andi Cox.  Players descend through the 9 Circles of Hell, to learn of the nature of wrong-doing and its consequences.

Rodger Kamenetz, “Dante at the Gates of Hell”

“From time to time I will be offering examples of encounters with images from poetry.  The point is to show what we might learn from the poets about how to better engage with images in our dreams.

“In the opening of Canto III of Inferno, ‘Dante’ and ‘Virgil’ stand before the gates of hell. The first nine lines are in capital letters.

PER ME SI VA NELLA CITTÀ DOLENTE
THROUGH ME ONE ENTERS THE CITY OF WOE..

“The gate itself is speaking to the poets (and to us the readers).

“This gate has spoken to me for 47 years, since I took the Italian to heart–memorized the lines in a language I do not really know. But I loved Dante and loved the sound, and I think part of the beauty of reading in a foreign language is you slow down, you don’t read it like you read the newspaper or the internet, you take time to translate the words and feel them.

“There is another language that has become foreign for too many of us, the language of images. We have forgotten how to read images, how to respond to them. To gain benefit from our dreams, we must learn how to stand before the images.

“I believe reading poetry written at a high level can teach us how to do this.  That is what I hope to show in this series.” […]    –Rodger Kamenetz, Encountering Images, Series 1: Dante at the Gates of Hell, December 23, 2020

“America in the Eighth Circle”

crisis-magazine-america-in-the-eighth-circle-2020“Such a world, naturally, produced every manner of sin imaginable, and all these sins are carefully chronicled in Dante’s descent into the Inferno. The nine circles of the infernal city are, as Dorothy Sayers reminds us, Dante’s picture of human society in decay; the further Dante and Virgil descend, the more radically corrupt and degraded the society becomes. The pilgrims pass relatively quickly through first seven circles of hell. All the sins of appetite and violence are contained in the first half of the cantica. Then the travelers reach the Great Barrier, and here the poem slows down. Dante and Virgil plunge into the abyss of the eighth circle, which houses the fraudulent. Alas, the various sins punished here read like a cross-section of our ruling classes in Washington, New York, and Hollywood: we meet pimps and seducers, flatterers, hypocrites, and thieves, bribe-taking officials, false counsellors, and sowers of discord. They come at long last to the tenth and final ditch of the eighth circle. Here we find the liars—those who perpetrate the purest form of fraud, the one that unites all the others. Their stench is overwhelming.” [. . .]    –Ben Reinhard, Crisis Magazine, September 21, 2020.

Jim Shaw, Donald and Melania Trump descending the escalator into the 9th circle of hell reserved for traitors frozen in a sea of ice (2020)

Jim Shaw’s silkscreen print Donald and Melania Trump descending the escalator into the 9th circle of hell reserved for traitors frozen in a sea of ice (2020) depicts the former US President and First Lady passing into the ninth circle, populated by members of the Trump inner circle: John Bolton, Michael Cohen, Omarosa Manigault, Anthony Scaramucci, Jeff Sessions, and others. The lake of Cocytus appears to have been displaced to the ground floor of a dilapidated American shopping mall.

Simon Lee Gallery describes Shaw’s collected works thus: “The practice of American artist Jim Shaw (b. 1952, Midland, Michigan) spans a wide range of artistic media and visual imagery. Since the 1970s, Shaw has mined the detritus of American culture, finding inspiration for his artworks in comic books, pulp novels, rock albums, protest posters, thrift store paintings – his ever-growing collection of found artworks has been the subject of its own exhibition on several occasions – and advertisements. At the same time, Shaw has consistently turned to his own life and, in particular, his unconscious, as a source of artistic creativity. Providing a blend of the personal, the commonplace and the uncanny, Shaw’s works frequently place in dialogue images of friends and family members with world events, pop culture and alternate realities. Often unfolding in long-term, narrative cycles, the works contains systems of cross-references and repetitions, which rework similar symbols and motifs, allowing a story-like thread to be perceived.”   –“Biography,” Simon Lee Gallery

See a discussion of Shaw’s exhibit Hope Against Hope, hosted by the Simon Lee Gallery (London) from October 20, 2020, to January 16, 2021, in The Art Newspaper.

Contributed by Deborah Parker (University of Virginia)

Adoyo, Rain: A Song for All and None (2020)

Adoyo’s Rain: A Song for All and None is a genre-crossing novel published by Zamani Chronicles in 2020. Rain is at the same time the oral history of several generations of a fictional Kenyan family, centered on Maya, a Dream Walker—endowed with a clairvoyance that grants Dreamers a cross-temporal empathic vision of human history—and an incisive interrogation of the history of colonial conquest in Africa. In the “Afterword” Adoyo (a scholar and teacher of Dante) describes the relationship of the novel’s relationship to the Divine Comedy:

“And each of the multitude voices and stories flowing into Rain is a vital tributary to a dynamic polyphony that explores and illuminates the conflict between sanitized histories of colonialist aggression and the unvarnished accounts of their savagery. It will not surprise readers familiar with the voice of Dante Alighieri’s Commedia that the Great Poet’s most important animating influence in Rain is the way it emboldens this story to draw back the veil of recorded History and bear witness, with an unflinching and conscientious gaze, to the brutality of the agents of colonial dominion — figures celebrated for the Age of Discovery whose incursions wreaked unconscionable horrors on peoples around the world for Coin in the name of Church and Crown and set the precedent for presumptuous appropriations like the Scramble for Africa centuries later. The poetic voice of Dante artifex also permeates the comprehensive structure of Rain, from its general architecture to the network of internal memory manifest in the story’s narrative refrains, as well as the musical rhythm and flow of the storyteller’s language. The most dulcet tones of Dante’s voice resonate deeply in the contemplative strains of Rain devoted to singing the unspoiled beauty of Nature in the bounty of Africa’s expansive savanna grasslands, gleaming equatorial mountain glaciers, opulent Rift Valley, cascading waters and wending rivers, and shimmering Great Lakes.”   –From the “Afterword” of Adoyo’s Rain: A Song for All and None (Zamani Chronicles, 2020)

Dantedì 2020 in Tunisia

Hammadi Agrebi, Professor of Italian in the Tunisian Ministry of Education, posted a brief video of himself dressed as Dante and reciting the opening verses of the Inferno as a celebration of Dantedì 2020. He began his reading by remarking on the ways that Dante’s verses serve to unify people across cultures, and circulated them on social media with the hashtag #IoleggoDante, an initiative sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Culture to display solidarity with Italians and others worldwide who were in strict lockdowns during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The video was posted on YouTube on March 24, 2020.

Luigi Garlando, Vai all’inferno, Dante! (2020)

“A Firenze c’è una sontuosa villa cinquecentesca, la Gagliarda, residenza dei Guidobaldi e sede dell’impresa di famiglia. È lì che vive Vasco, quattordici anni, un bullo impenitente abituato a maltrattare professori, compagni e famigliari. A scuola Vasco fa pena, in compenso è imbattibile a Fortnite, progetta di diventare un gamer professionista e ha già migliaia di follower. Perché Vasco è così, sa di essere in credito con la vita e di avere diritto a tutto. Finché un giorno, a sorpresa, viene battuto da un avversario che si fa chiamare Dante e indossa il classico copricapo del Poeta. ‘Oh Guidobaldi, becca Montaperti! Or mi conoscerai, vil ghibellino. Ben ti convien tenere gli occhi aperti’ chatta il misterioso giocatore. Ma chi è? E perché parla in versi? Appena può, Vasco torna in postazione e cerca la rivincita per umiliarlo come solo lui sa fare, senza sapere che la più esaltante e rivoluzionaria sfida della sua vita è appena cominciata.”   —Libreria Pino website

“Maybe Hell on Earth Looks Like the Australian Wildfires”

“LET’S TALK ABOUT HELL. In David Bentley Hart’s remarkably important book That All Shall Be Saved, he outlines the reasons that we should not fear an afterlife of unending torment in a Dantesque lake of flame. ‘It makes no more sense, then, to say that God allows creatures to damn themselves out of his love for them or out of his respect for their freedom than to say a father might reasonably allow his deranged child to thrust her face into a fire out of a tender regard for her moral autonomy.’ Read the book—really, read it. It will inoculate you against some of the ideas about God that can’t help but edge their way into your psyche.”   –Bill McKibben, Sojourners, 2020

View the full article here.