William Barr’s Circle of Hell

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[. . .] “There are circles of hell for men such as Trump, and also for their enablers. For people who ought to know better but who go along with the inane, violent, crooked impulses of The Boss for reasons of political expediency. Barr is one such man.

“Dante reserved an entire section of hell for opportunists. Such people would, he wrote, be condemned to chase banners, and in turn to be chased by hornets and wasps, for all eternity.

“And this blind life of theirs is so debased,
They envious are of every other fate.
No fame of them the world permits to be;
Misericord and Justice both disdain them.”    –Sasha Abramsky, The Abramsky Report, April 27, 2019

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

Carlos Malavé, “American Individualism is Destroying the Soul”

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“I am very mindful of Dante’s words: ‘The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.’

“Coming together from all streams of American Christianity to speak in opposition to cuts on the safety-net programs is no minor achievement. We have a widespread consensus on the priority of providing essential life saving support to poor people in our country. We also agree in that the ultimate goal is to create a just society in which everyone live an abundant life that includes meaningful work with fair salaries, affordable health care and education, and time for leisure and recreation.

“In order to achieve this, our political leaders must renounce rigid political ideologies. These ideologies are destroying the fabric of our nation and the hopes of our people. As disciples of Jesus, we will continually call our elected leaders to reject all allegiances to groups or corporations that do not advocate and serve the majority of Americans.” [. . .]    –Carlos Malavé, SOJOURNERS, June 28, 2017.

In his essay, Malavé uses a citation that is frequently misattributed to Dante, but much in keeping with his contempt for neutrality. See other posts filed under the tag “Hottest Places.”

Guy Raffa, “There’s a Special Place in Dante’s Inferno for Wafflers and Neutral Souls”

“Dante’s Divine Comedy, an epic poem recounting the Florentine’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, remains the go-to guide to the afterlife, the world’s most famous travelogue for the great beyond. But Dante matters more than that. Dante’s encounters with the dead offer enduring lessons for the living, including one that speaks with vital urgency to us today.

“Consider California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s press conference on June 5, 2020, as a Dantean case study. The governor insisted that ‘we’—institutions and the community at large—must change to combat systemic anti-Black racism. Urging individuals to ‘take a stand,’ he quoted the medieval Italian poet: ‘Dante infamously said that the hottest place in hell is reserved for those in a time of moral crisis that maintain their neutrality.’ The lesson drawn by Gov. Newsom? ‘This is not the time to be neutral.’

“This might be the place for me to stop, tear out my hair (or what’s left of it), and object, ‘Dante never said those words! They imply that neutrality is the worst sin for Dante, but treachery is, and the punishment for that sin isn’t fire but ice!’ But I won’t do that, because the complicated life of this fictitious quotation is so deeply embedded in U.S. history that the correction is pointless.”   –Guy P. Raffa, “There’s a Special Place in Dante’s Inferno for Wafflers and Neutral Souls,” Zócalo Public Square (August 31, 2020)

See also our posts on the use of the famous (mis)quotation by Martin Luther King, Jr., and John F. Kennedy (all filed under the tag “Hottest Places“).