Nirvana Sued For Use of “Upper Hell” Map

“Move over smiley face. Welcome to the Seventh Circle of Hell.

“Nineties grunge-rock band Nirvana, already embroiled in a long-running legal battle against fashion company Marc Jacobs over its ‘happy face’ t-shirt designs, now finds itself on the less happy end of a new copyright infringement lawsuit worthy of Dante’s trip through the underworld.

“The complaint, filed in federal court in Los Angeles [in April 2021], claims that Nirvana infringed an illustration first published in a 1949 English language translation of Dante’s Inferno. The drawing depicts Dante’s circles of Upper Hell and, like Nirvana’s smiley face logo, has been featured on the band’s merchandise for decades. [. . .]”   –Aaron Moss, “Foreign Works, US Rights: The 7th Circle of Copyright Hell?” on Copyright Lately (April 30, 2021)

The disputed image was featured on the B-side of Nirvana’s debut album Bleach (Sub Pop Records, 1989).

Contributed by Jared Brust (Florida State University ’21)

Liam Ó Broin’s Commedia Lithographs (2021)

Inferno-17-Usurers-Liam-O-Broin-Lithographs

Irish printmaker Liam Ó Broin completed a series of 100 lithographs based on Dante’s Commedia in honor of the 700th anniversary of the poet’s death in 2021. The lithographs are currently available to view in an online exhibit sponsored by the Centre for Dante Studies in Ireland (CDSI).

“Dante’s search on his journey was to go to the depths of the human imagination. In that journey he reveals himself as one who has a deep understanding of the nature, and importantly, the necessity of the human scheme of community. He also reveals, however flawed the mechanism from a political aspect was at the time, a very clear understanding of the way a city state, and by extension a nation, needs to be structured as an entity for good government – its core must be social justice. Here we have Dante the poet, Christian, philosopher and politician – fused into one.”   –From the Artist’s Statement.

Read more about Liam Ó Broin’s career at the artist’s personal website.

View our previous post on Ó Broin’s 2012 Inferno exhibition at Graphic Studio (Dublin) here.

We extend our great thanks to the artist for permission to reprint the image above.

Leonard Kress, “That Day We Read No More” (2019)

A vengeful sheering Great Lakes wind,
uprooting trees, flinging roof shingles—
split stumps and flayed branches. A whole dangle
of modifiers. Infinitives finding
syntax amid the wreckage. I can almost
make out the spoken scrawl, part malignant rant,
and part avowal, part warning and part advance
directive. Yet what I hear most is boast

when winds subside: Love led me to betray,
and the agony that betrayal once begot
afflicts me now, like you, who’ll stay
to hear my tale. You, like me, who sought
to authorize illicit love—you’re doomed
like some obsessive-compulsive, forever caught

in the act of betrayal. Forever damned.
Give me details, I demand, hoping
our stories do not match. There’s no stopping,
she says—Francesca, mother, who charmed
Paolo with her quizzing glance. I asked
my would-be lover to admit out loud
with certain sighs he wanted me. He held
his breath long as he could. And then, unmasked,

indifference and restraint abandoned, distance
obliterated—we agreed to read
together the tale of Lancelot’s romance
with his King’s wife Guinevere, and the bed
in which they found delight. That pleasure is
now pain—in inverse proportion to the deed.

Leonard Kress’s poem “That Day We Read No More,” a rewriting of Inferno 5, was published in The Orpheus Complex by Main Street Rag Press in 2009. It is available for purchase on the Main Street Rag website. The poem was featured in NonBinary Review #19, a 2019 collection of poems dedicated to Dante’s Inferno, available from Zoetic Press. Many thanks to the author for permission to publish the poem on Dante Today.

Deborah DeNicola, “The Big Enigma” (2021)

“The Big Enigma” is a poem included in the collection The Impossible by Deborah DeNicola, published by Kelsay Books in 2021. Of the inspiration for the poem, DeNicola explains, “In the end of the Inferno, there are souls under the ice. Only their faces are visible and they cry tears that freeze and poke them in the eyes. My poem references this because it is about a heart break that was very hard to get over. I never knew why this person madly loved me for quite a while and then went cold. And more to the point, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get over it for a long, long time, hence, the title ‘The Big Enigma’ and the reference to torment” (DeNicola, in a personal email communication).

The Impossible is available for purchase on Amazon. Our thanks to the author for permission to reprint.

Deborah DeNicola, “Desire with Mountain and Dante” (2010)

Deborah-De-Nicola-Desire-With-Mountain-and-Dante-Full-Text

Deborah DeNicola’s poem “Desire with Mountain and Dante” was published in the collection Original Human in 2010. In a personal email communication, DeNicola recounts, “I am an east-coast person and I was in Seattle and Mt. Rainier was in the distance. I had not been in a relationship for several years and was aware of my own ‘desire without an object of desire,’ as Wallace Stevens puts it. I had been teaching The Inferno so Dante was on my mind.”

Original Human can be purchased at Amazon. Many thanks to the author for permission to reprint the poem.

“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.

“Keeping Cool”

the-sojourners-2009-keeping-cool

“The thing is … I love air conditioning. And I hate, haaaaaaaaaaaate being hot. ‘Oh, thank you Jesus,’ were my first words upon entering our 68-degree oasis with a carload of groceries on a 90-plus degree, muggy summer day where the outside feels like a shvitz or the third ring of Dante’s Inferno. Central air conditioning is grace for me. But what if my blessing is a curse for someone else? Like, say, the rest of the planet? Air conditioning hurts the environment, quaffs energy, and hastens global warming. But is my air conditioner evil? What would Jesus do? For one thing, Jesus recognized the Jewish kosher laws. A fairly new movement in Judaism today called eco-kashrut (aka ‘eco-kosher’) expands on the ancient dietary laws to look at what’s kosher in terms of ethical living, fair trade, the ecological concerns involved in food production, consumerism, and lifestyle, including whether to air condition or not.” [. . .]    –Cathleen Falsani, SOJOURNER, October, 2009.

Judges Guild, Dungeons & Dragons “Inferno” by Geoffry O. Dale (1980)

Contributed by Alexander Bertland