Retirement tips for Steve Bannon and others

[…] “Learn something new.

“Mr. Bannon also might want to expand his cultural horizons, perhaps by learning a language of one of the few nationalities that he doesn’t want barred from the country. I’d suggest Italian, which would give him the ability to read Dante’s Inferno in the original. That should give him an idea of his future travel plans.” […]    –Charles Sykes, The New York Times, January 6, 2018

Circles of Hell

[…]  “To what circle of hell are Republican officials about to consign themselves? It would be useful for members of Congress to declare that they will never enter the fourth circle — the demolition of the integrity and independence of the FBI — if only to deter Trump from forcing a constitutional crisis.” […]    –Michael Gerson, The Washington Post, October 30, 2017,

Dante in Vietnam

In a review by Susan Ellingwood of Dispatches,’ by Michael Herr

“Here’s what the 1977 Times review had to say about this book: ‘If you think you don’t want to read any more about Vietnam, you are wrong. ‘Dispatches’ is beyond politics, beyond rhetoric, beyond ‘pacification’ and body counts and the ‘psychotic vaudeville’ of Saigon press briefings. Its materials are fear and death, hallucination and the burning of souls. It is as if Dante had gone to hell with a cassette recording of Jimi Hendrix and a pocketful of pills: our first rock-and-roll war, stoned murder.’ ”    –Susan Ellingwood, The New York Times, September 15, 2017

Dante as “Tuner”

“[…]  The spinner is the life of the party. The spinner is funny, socially adventurous and good at storytelling, even if he sometimes uses his wit to maintain distance from people. Spinners are great at hosting big parties.

They’re hungry for social experiences and filled with daring and creativity. Instagram and Twitter are built for these people. If you’re friends with a spinner you’ll have a bunch of fun things to do even if you don’t remember them a week later.

The tuner makes you feel known. The tuner is good at empathy and hungers for deep connection. The tuner may be bad at small talk, but in the middle of a deep conversation the tuner will ask those extra four or five questions, the way good listeners do. […] Shakespeare, Einstein and Isaiah Berlin were spinners, playing, in almost a thrill-seeking manner, with a whirl of ideas. Dante, Proust and Toni Morrison fall into the tuner category. […]”    –David Brooks, The New York Times, June 30, 2017

“Dear President Bannon”

 

“Dear President Bannon,

“Congratulations on your upgrade to Malebolge, the Eighth Circle of the Abyss. This tier of our eternal rewards program is reserved for customers of our Fraud department, including flatterers, adulterers, hypocrites, and thieves. And what a dedicated customer you have been. ..” […]    –Nick Douglas, McSweeney’s, February 15, 2017

 

“The Age of Rudeness”

 

[…] “In the United States, Hillary Clinton calls half the supporters of Donald Trump “a basket of deplorables.” At first the remark impressed me. I approved of Clinton for her courage and honesty, while reflecting on her curious choice of words. “Basket of deplorables” almost sounded like a phrase from Dr. Seuss: It would be typical of him to put deplorables in a basket, for the moral amusement of his young readers. A sack or a box of deplorables wouldn’t be the same thing at all, and a swamp of deplorables is too Dante-esque; but a basket is just the kind of zany, cheerful container that makes light of the deplorables while still putting them in their place.” […]    –Rachel Cusk, The New York Times, February 15, 2017

Cover of Jacobin magazine (2017)

How a Museum Reckons With Black Pain (2016)

A woman passes a display depicting the Mexico Olympic protest during a media preview at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, U.S., September 14, 2016. The museum will open to the public on September 24. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. - RTSNR10

A woman passes a display depicting the Mexico Olympic protest during a media preview at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, U.S., September 14, 2016.

“The Smithsonian’s new memorial of African American history and culture is at once triumphant and crushing.” […]

“The descent and ascent achieve an effect similar to Dante’s harrowing journey in Inferno, and the walk upwards through Reconstruction, Redemption, the civil-rights movement, and into the present day is a reminder of the constant push and pull of horror and protest.”    –Vann R. Newkirk II, The Atlantic, September 23, 2016

Contributed by Pamela Montanaro

David Brooks and Dante’s 7th Circle

brooks“On Meet the Press this morning they were discussing whether Donald Trump has the temperament fit to be president. Alex Castellano was trying to make a comparison between Clinton and Trump as ‘old testament’ vs. ‘new testament’, and right around 41:30, Brooks disagrees and says it’s more like we’re in Dante’s Inferno in the seventh circle of hell…”    –Allen Yu (Bowdoin, ’14)

Meet the Press, July 31, 2016

Robert A. Ferguson, Inferno: An Anatomy of American Punishment (2014)

Robert-Ferguson-Inferno-Punishment-Prisons-DanteColumbia Law professor Robert A. Ferguson published a study of the theory informing American systems of punishment in penal institutions. Calling for a new model that emphasizes correction over condemnation, Ferguson writes, “Punishment is a reflexive response to misbehavior, and punishers in their anger are always spontaneously at the ready. Rehabilitation requires thought, a plan, work, and the willingness to probe slow changes in more mundane objects of attrition. It will always be easier to ask for punishment than to institute a treatment program in a prison system where punishment comes first. The answer, to the extent that we can give one, lies in something separate, something either beyond or after punishment.

“The Divine Comedy is a limited guide, but it does reveal the pernicious parameters in the psychology of punishment and gives a response to them. [. . .] Criminal justice has gone astray, lost in a dark wood of its own making. It is time, more than time, to find a way out.” — Robert A. Ferguson, Inferno: An Anatomy of American Punishment, 249.

From David Cole’s review in the New York Times: “[Ferguson] insists that the only way out is to reconceptualize punishment. Invoking the circles of hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy, Ferguson argues that we need to reorient our prisons away from punishment and debasement and instead model them on Purgatorio, where individuals are restored to heaven through the care and love of others.” — David Cole, “Punitive Damage,” New York Times Sunday Book Review (May 16, 2014)

Ferguson-Inferno-Prison-Chino-Dante