Margaret Visser, “The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude” (2009)

margaret-visser-the-gift-of-thanks-the-roots-and-rituals-of-gratitude-2009 “. . .The Gift of Thanks is a scholarly, many-angled examination of what gratitude is and how it functions in our lives. Gratitude is a moral emotion of sorts, Ms. Visser writes, one that is more complicated and more vital than we think. Ms. Visser acknowledges that simple politeness is the grease that keeps society running and, conversely, how much hostility can build up among people when words like ‘thanks’ are not spoken.
In Dante’s Inferno, she observes, ‘at the bottommost circle of hell, the ungrateful are punished by being eternally frozen in the postures of deference they had failed to perform during their lifetimes: trapped rigid in enveloping ice, they stand erect or upside down, lie prone, or bow face to feet.’
In The Gift of Thanks, however, Ms. Visser is most interested in the kind of gratitude that is not compulsory or self-interested. She writes about the humility required to be genuinely grateful, and the essential ability to climb out of one’s own head.” [. . .]    –Dwight Garner, The New York Times, November 17, 2009

Penny Arcade, “Fabulous Prizes”

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Found at Penny Arcade.

Contributed by Charlie Russell-Schlesinger (Bowdoin, ’08)

Remembering Michael Mazur’s Illustrations of the Inferno

michael-mazur-dies-at-73“Michael Mazur, a relentlessly inventive printmaker, painter and sculptor whose work encompassed social documentation, narrative and landscape while moving back and forth between figuration and abstraction, died on Aug. 18 in Cambridge, Mass. He was 73 and lived in Cambridge and Provincetown, Mass. [. . .]

“While attending Amherst College he studied with the printmaker and sculptor Leonard Baskin, who was teaching at Smith College. After taking a year off to study in Italy, where his lifelong fascination with Dante began, he received a bachelor’s degree in 1957 and went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine art from the Yale School of Art and Architecture. [. . .]

michael-mazur-dies-at-73“After seeing an exhibition of Degas monotypes at the Fogg Museum in 1968, he began exploring that medium, most notably in the monumental Wakeby landscapes of 1983, depicting Wakeby Lake on Cape Cod, and in a series of illustrations for Robert Pinsky’s translation of Dante’s Inferno, published in 1994.” [. . .]    –William Grimes, The New York Times, August 29, 2009

Contributed by Richard Lindemann (2006)

See also the 2020 exhibit of Mazur’s work at the Albert Merola Gallery in Provincetown, Mass.

Rene Migliaccio, “Dante’s Inferno” Blackmoon Theatre Company (NYC, 2009)

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“In this new adaptation of Dante’s Inferno, Artistic Director Rene Migliaccio creates a multicultural, multidisciplinary and multimedia visual and aural work that positions performers within video projections, redefining traditional theatrical boundaries. Physical Theatre, Music and Poetry in the Italian language create the ritualistic experience of Dante’s journeys through the nine circles of Hell. Canto after canto, Italian performer Alessio Bordoni portrays the character of Dante leading the audience throughout his descent into Hell. The different realms of sin are portrayed through images: moving fragments of collages by critically acclaimed Collage Artist India Evans. Cellist Aminda Asher performs a classical score, a pre-consciousness of Dante’s journey into Hell. In ‘Dante’s Inferno’, the traditional concept of Hell as a place of eternal tortures is re-defined as a condition of spiritual anguish caused by separation from the Sacred.”    —Blackmoon Theatre Company

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

David Eggers, Zeitoun (2009)

zeitoun-dave-eggers-2009“Imagine Charles Dickens, his sentimentality in check but his journalistic eyes wide open, roaming New Orleans after it was buried by Hurricane Katrina. He would find anger and pathos. A dark fable, perhaps. His villains would be evil and incompetent, even without Heckuva-Job-Brownie. In the end, though, he would not be able to constrain himself; his outrage might overwhelm the tale. . .
But within a week, the sense of menace and edgy despair becomes overwhelming. Now Zeitoun’s days are like a watery version of Dante’s Inferno, with flood and disease and tough moral choices around every bend: rescue or paddle on?” [. . .]    —
Timothy Egan, The New York Times, August 13, 2009

“Yale Press Bans Images of Muhammad in New Book”

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“So Yale University and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism, and the recommendation was unanimous: The book, “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” should not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005. What’s more, they suggested that the Yale press also refrain from publishing any other illustrations of the prophet that were to be included, specifically, a drawing for a children’s book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Dore’ of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante’s Inferno that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dali'” [. . .]    –Patricia Cohen, The New York Times, August 12, 2009

Weezer, “Make Believe” (2005)

weezer-make-believe-2005 In the liner notes to Weezer’s fifth album, the first lines of Inferno, “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita,” are hidden in the pictures (see Wikpedia page).

S.A. Alenthony, “The Infernova” (2009)

sa-alenthony-the-infernova-2009 “S.A. Alenthony’s The Infernova is the new book that. . . [turns] the classic vision of the Christian hell upside-down. Retelling the poem from an atheist’s perspective, the story parallels Dante’s descent through nine infamous circles where increasingly pernicious sinners endure their symbolic punishments. The upper circles house the minor offenders: those who lacked clarity or promoted fallacious arguments. The middle levels incarcerate those who preyed upon-and profited from-irrationality: paranormalists, conspiracy theorists, astrologers, and their ilk. Lower and yet darker realms are reserved for religion’s criminals, such as televangelist-frauds, pedophile-priests, and terrorists, while at the pit’s nadir reside the legions of the world’s prophets and a virtual menagerie of the countless gods born of their imaginations.
Dante was famously accompanied on his journey by his revered hero, the Roman poet Virgil. In The Infernova, it is the satirical and irreligious gadfly Mark Twain who takes the role of guide and companion. As their odyssey continues, the dangers of irrational and mystical thinking grow more clear, and their dialogues and encounters with hell’s residents provide a unique tableau on which to set out the arguments against supernaturalism.”    —Amazon

Randall Graham and Alex Gross, “Da Vino Commedia”

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See the full text of Bonny Doon Vineyard’s “The Vinferno.”

Also cited at Mae’s Cafe and Bakery in Bath, Maine by Anna Schember (Bowdoin, ’12).

Tim Barsky & Everyday Ensemble, “The Bright River” (2004)

tim-barsky-everyday-ensemble-the-bright-river-2004“The Bright River is a hip-hop retelling of Dante’s Inferno by a traditional storyteller, Tim Barsky, with a live soundtrack performed by some of the best hip-hop and klezmer musicians in the Bay Area. A dizzying theatrical journey through a world spinning helplessly out of control, the show sends audiences on a mass-transit tour of the Afterlife. Guided by a fixer named Quick, and moving through an urban landscape that is at once both intensely real and fantastic, the show is a deep-rooted love story, a profound meditation on mass transit, and a passionate commentary on the current war in Iraq.” [. . .]    —Everyday Theater

See Everyday Theater to learn more, watch video clips, and read reviews.