“The Close Reader: Let the Punishment Fit the Crime”

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“If sheer cultural influence is the measure of greatness, though, Dante Alighieri should probably rank higher than Shakespeare, since Dante dreamed up something that, sadly, has had even more impact than depth psychology. He invented the infernal. Dante’s ‘Inferno’ gave us our first glimpse of a universe we once again inhabit: a topography of graphic, gruesome suffering. The Dante scholar John Freccero might have been talking about Kosovo or Rwanda or any other post-genocidal landscape when he wrote, ‘The ruined portals and fallen bridges of Hell are emblems of the failure of all bonds among the souls who might once have been members of the human community.'” [. . .]    –Judith Shulevitz, The New York Times, March 9, 2003

“Blew Bayou”

michael-lewis-blew-bayou“No one knows that better than Lewis. In less than two years, the 5’8″, 165-pound bayou waterbug has gone from driving a beer truck, schlepping kegs for a Budweiser distributorship two doors down from the Saints practice facility, to leading the NFL with 1,950 total return yards (1,504 kickoff, 446 punt). At the NFL-ancient age of 29, with just a year of JV high school football and no college experience, Lewis began his journey through the darkest recesses of professional football like some kind of Dante character in shoulder pads. Now he’s 31, and fans have made him the leading vote-getter among kick returners in this season’s Pro Bowl balloting.”    –David Fleming, ESPN Magazine, December 10, 2002

“Rome Journal; An Inferno of Vehicles Expands a City’s Circle of Suffering”

rome-journal-an-inferno-of-vehicles-expands-a-citys-circle-of-suffering“On a remarkably pleasant night in early August, Patrizia Dolcini, a 44-year-old hotel worker, was jolted from her sleep by a series of violent explosions just outside her first-floor bedroom window in one of Rome’s most upscale areas.
Ms. Dolcini ran outside, where others were gathering, as a frightening scene unfolded: more than a dozen parked motor scooters had burst into flames, transforming an entire intersection into an inferno. The blaze engulfed a nearby tree and leapt five stories in the air. Black smoke billowed above this city’s fairy-tale skyline. From a few blocks away, there came another explosion. Then, from a different direction, another.” [. . .]    –Brian Wingfeld, The New York Times, September 5, 2005