Trump and his Enablers belong in Dante’s 9th Circle of Hell

each-betrayal-begins-with-trust-martin-luther“If Dante’s deepest circle of Hell did exist, it would be reserved for Trump and his enablers. It would be reserved for those who betrayed our country and this beautiful blue world for profit. It would be reserved for those who allowed a pandemic to take tens of thousands of lives and affect millions. It would be reserved for those who are silent about the bounties placed on our active duty troops’ heads, who disparage our military, intelligence agencies, our scientists, and health care professionals. It would be reserved for those who place all that we love in danger.

“It would be reserved for those who supposedly care for us, but expect silence about their support of Trump or of those who support him.

“The list of betrayals in my life is long and old.” []    –Onomastic, Daily Kos, September 15, 2020

Dante Alighieri’s COVID-19

person-wearing-mask“‘Lasciate ogni Speranza, voi ch’entrate.’ Abandon all hope, ye who enter.

“The words inscribed on the gates of hell, according to Dante Alighieri in the Divina Commedia, could be the best way to describe the tumultuous year we have experienced so far…

“The COVID-19 world crisis has shed light into how broken some systems are, how a social net would have helped the ‘most developed country in the world’ be the hero it is in the Hollywood movies.

“Instead, residents of the United States find themselves trapped in a hell only known to them and a select group of countries, like Brazil and Mexico. We currently have no Virgil that will guide us through the complex planes of hell. At this rate, Dante would have never gotten out of the Inferno to ever meet the concentric circles of the Paradiso.” []    –Jorge Luis Galvez Vallejo, Iowa State Daily, July 30, 2020

COVID-19: Indians Going Through Nine Circles of Hell

“Akin to how characters in Dante’s poem paid for their sins in hell, Indians are paying with their lives during a pandemic for electing a government that is utterly incompetent and bigoted. [. . .]

“Dante and his imaginary guide Virgil were travelling through nine circles of hell on their way to heaven. Hell was used as a metaphor for human suffering for sins committed on earth. Although the punishment was severe, Dante’s poem portrayed them as fair and proportionate to the sins committed. The sufferings in India are not imaginary, but real, taking place while people are still alive, and most importantly, whatever their sins are, the fairness and proportionately of the punishments are definitely questionable. Yet the reference is fair and this column is designed to explain why.

“India is now in the proverbial ‘Ante-Inferno’ with a clear inscription written all over her, ‘Abandon all hope, you who enter here.’ India is now the case study of ‘what not to do’ in a pandemic, thanks to the conceit, egotism, and self-approbation of the Modi government.” [. . .]    –Debasish Chakraborty, The Wire, May 20, 2021

“Newly Uncovered DNA Evidence Frees Thousands Of Damned Souls From Hell”

“Hear how justice was finally served for those wrongfully accused of greed, gluttony, and premarital sex.”   —The Onion, 2020

Listen to the full podcast here.

“Columbia Art League Exhibit Honors Dante With Visions of the Afterlife”

columbia-art-league-dante-visions-of-afterlife-2021“CAL’s current exhibit, The Divine Comedy, is grounded in Dante Alighieri’s medieval masterwork, a revealing, often harrowing pilgrimage through the stations of the afterlife. CAL artists responded to Dante’s themes, and everlasting concepts of life beyond our own, in personal and particular ways.

“Heaven, hell and purgatory are represented within these images, and relatively well-balanced, CAL education and outreach director Karen Shortt-Stout said. Given the existential troubles of 2020 and early 2021, she thought artists might bend in greater number toward the visual language of fire and brimstone.

Vision Magazine’s, “Dante Alighieri and The Divine Comedy

vision-magazine-on-dante“The Comedy demonstrates the significant influence of Greek philosophy. Dante didn’t read Greek; it seems his philosophical grounding came from religious convent schools founded by Dominican or Franciscan monks. Scholars suggest that the Dominicans would have instilled in their pupil the methodology of Thomas Aquinas’s magnum opus, Summa Theologica. They would likewise have grounded him in the writings of Aristotle and the church Fathers. The logic of Aristotle, which had been out of vogue for centuries, regained popularity in the decades preceding Dante’s birth, giving rise to Christian rationalism. Thus, even though the Bible is by far the most dominant source for the Comedy, in Dante’s hands Scripture became materia poetica, reshaped through an Aristotelian moral system.

“In terms of the idea of the human soul, for example, Dante ‘follows the dominant Western tradition,’ namely ‘that each human soul is created by God, destined for union with a particular human body, and infused by God into the embryo before birth’ (The Cambridge Companion to Dante. This Western tradition owes much not only to Aristotle’s ideas but to his mentor Plato’s concept of the eternal soul, denying only its preexistence. Yet Dante was not a dualist in the Cartesian or Neoplatonic sense. According to Dante scholar Robin Kirkpatrick, ‘his very conception of a human soul denies that he could be. For Dante—as for Aristotle—the soul, or (in Italian) anima, is neither more nor less than the animating form of the body.'” [. . .]    –Daniel Tompsett and Donald Winchester, Vision Magazine, 2013.

Review of Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (2013)

review-murakami-colorless-tsukuru-tazaki-and-his-years-of-pilgrimage-2020“But it’s classical music – another Murakami love – that gives Murakami the title of his latest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. The title comes from Franz Liszt’s three-suite work Anneés de pèlerinage, which translates as ‘Years of Pilgrimage.’

“The eighth part of the first suite – ‘Le mal du pays’ (translation: ‘Homesickness’) – bonds the five main characters (they all play and/or listen to the piece throughout the novel) as they voyage through the “years of pilgrimage” of their mid-30s.

“Murakami’s literary antecedent in writing about one’s mid-30s as a time of a despondent and confusing quest for meaning is, of course, Dante and his Divine Comedy. And the quest of Dante’s protagonist ends happily, as does the quest of Murakami’s protagonist, Tsukuru Tazaki.” [. . .]    –Paul Gleason, Stereo Embers

Charles Sykes, “The Agony of the Anti-Anti-Trumpers” (2020)

vision-of-hell-charles-sykes-agony-anti-anti-trumpers-2020“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.’

“This, of course, got me thinking about the anti-anti-Trumpers and their season of agita.

“A cry went up this week from the precinct of the anti-anti-Trumpers suggesting that the selection of Kamala Harris was the moment for their decisive break into formal indecisiveness. As much as they loathed Donald Trump, they insisted, there was no way that they could support a Biden-Harris ticket.

“But the choice of Harris wasn’t really a tipping point, because the anti-antis were never going to support a viable opponent to Trump. The essence of anti-anti-Trumpism is the full recognition of the awfulness of Trump and all of his works, but a firm resolve not to actually do anything to confront them.” [. . .]    —Charles Sykes, The Bulwark, August 14, 2020

Frank Bruni, “From Trump, No Respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or the Rules”

Photo by Gage Skidmore (Wikimedia Commons)

“‘The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,’ Trump told supporters at a rally in Wisconsin last month. He has repeatedly made versions of that claim, at one point exhorting North Carolinians to monitor polling sites and ‘watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing’ by Democrats, who will work to lift Biden to victory by ‘doing very bad things.’

“And it’s a perfect example of Trump’s tendency to assign his own motives and methods to others. He worries that they’ll cheat because he has always cheated — on his taxes, on his wives, in his business dealings, in his philanthropy. He imagines them cheating because he actually is cheating.

[. . .]

“But Trump’s cheating is its own virus, infecting everyone around him. Trump’s cheating is its own ecosystem. Abandon all scruple, ye who enter here.”   — Frank Bruni, “From Trump, No Respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or the Rules,” New York Times (September 19, 2020)

Contributed by Dan Christian

“On the Road with Dante”

“While The Divine Comedy most clearly reflects the Catholic faith of the poet and his medieval world, it hints at some principles the Reformation would bring to bear on the church two centuries later. Dante purposely wrote in a low style that would have popular appeal despite its highly spiritual subject matter. While the church produced works in Latin, Dante wrote in the vernacular. His choice was revolutionary, ensuring the work could and would be read by common men as well as by women and children (who still study the work extensively in Italian schools today).

“Despite its loftiness, The Divine Comedy is firmly grounded in the gritty and the mundane. In fact, Dante didn’t use the word divine in his title. He simply titled it Commedia, which at the time meant a work with a happy ending as opposed to a tragic one. (The word ‘divine’ was added by a later editor and has stuck through the years.) In casting a fictional version of himself as the central figure, The Divine Comedy is prophetically personal, confessional, and autobiographical. In this way it emphasizes a surprisingly modern sense of self-determination, one that foreshadows the famous ‘Protestant work ethic.’ Moreover, in its accent on the salvation and purification of the individual soul, this work of the Catholic Dante anticipates the spiritual autobiographies of Puritans such as John Bunyan. The Divine Comedy is a story of someone seeking salvation. In Dante’s own words, the poem’s purpose is to lead readers from ‘a state of wretchedness to a state of happiness.’ And while depicting salvation in the afterlife, it’s clear Dante intends readers to find abundant life in the here and now.” [. . .]    –Karen Swallow Prior, The Gospel Coalition, October 21, 2015.