“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

Trump Circle

160222_a19809-1000The New Yorker, February 22, 2016

Pascal’s Wager 2.0

28stoneWeb-blog480-v2“[…] But the ethical value is a matter of my own judgment, independent of religious authority. And the understanding may be only a partial illumination that does not establish the ultimate truth of the ideas that provide it, as, for example, both Dante and Proust help us understand the human condition, despite their conflicting intellectual frameworks. None of this will interfere with a commitment to intellectual honesty. […]”    –Gary Gutting, The New York Times, September 28, 2015

DANTEmag

DANTEmagDANTEmag,” based out of London, claims to be “the first international magazine with an Italian soul.” Most of the articles featured on the news and culture magazine relate to Dante in some way.

Explore the magazine online here.

Censorship and Betrayal in Russia

Russian ArtistsRachel Donadio‘s article for The New York Times, “Russian Artists Face a Choice: Censor Themselves, or Else,” discusses the difference between legislation and enforcement of censorship in contemporary Russian theater.

“Russia has a thriving theater scene and a constitution that bans top-down, Soviet-style censorship. But in a time of economic turmoil and growing nationalism, with society polarized in unpredictable and emotional ways over the new laws and the war in Ukraine, cultural figures say the message from the government is clear: Fall in line with the emphasis on family and religious values, or lose funding, or worse.

“‘It’s about betrayal — those who betray are put in the Ninth Circle of Hell, like in Dante,’ Kirill Serebrennikov, a prominent theater and film director and the director of the Gogol Center, a cornerstone of Moscow’s theater scene, said in a recent interview here. The result, he said, was to put writers and directors ‘between Scylla and Charybdis — between censorship or self-censorship.'”    —The New York Times

Read the entire article here.