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.

“A Manners Manifesto”

A Manners ManifestoTamar Adler’s article for The New York Times Magazine“A Manners Manifesto,” explores pros, cons, and trends of table manners.

“Throughout history, there have also been good rules, important reminders of things we often forget. The very first book of manners, a papyrus by the Egyptian Ptahhotep around 2350 B.C., included the sound guidances to wait to be served by your host, and to resist staring. In the Book of Ecclesiasticus, there is ‘Eat as it becometh a man, those things which are set before thee; and devour not, lest thou be hated.’ Erasmus says not to lick your fingers, but use a napkin, and to give up your seat to an elder. Brunetto Latini, whom Dante learned from and then satirized, wrote in his poem ‘Tesoretto’ that good manners should always be there, even when no one else is.”    —NYTimes.com

Danton Walker, Danton’s Inferno (1955)

Danton's Inferno

Danton Walker’s 1955 novel, Danton’s Inferno: The Story of a Columnist and How He Grew is a memoir by Walker (1899-1960) about his time as a columnist for The New York Times. The book is similar to the Inferno in that it lists people with whom Walker worked throughout his career, sometimes condemning them.

Access Walker’s work for The New York Times here.

 

Contributed by Scott Reid

McSweeney’s: “The Nine Circles of Adjunct Hell.” (2011)

Internet TendencyMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency is the daily humor website of McSweeney’s Publishing, a publishing house founded by David Eggers in San Francisco. Dan Moreau of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency has written this satirical piece referencing the nine circles of Dante’s hell.

Among the circles are: Paper Grading, Classroom Observation, and Parking.

Click here to read the entire piece.

 

Contributed by Humberto González Chávez.

 

“The Wisdom of the Exile”

Opinionator“There are many types of uprooting. The brutal expulsions like those now devastating hundreds of thousands in countries like Iraq and Syria are common in the cycles of politics and war. But it can be more subtly political, too, as was Dante’s banishment from Florence at the hands of the Black Guelphs, or economic, as it was for the immigrants dancing in the Argentine brothels.

“Each person who survives this uprooting and finds himself in exile experiences an existential earthquake of sorts: Everything turns upside down, all certitudes are shattered. The world around you ceases to be that solid, reliable presence in which you used to feel comfortable, and turns into a ruin — cold and foreign. ‘You shall leave everything you love most: this is the arrow that the bow of exile shoots first,’ wrote Dante in Paradiso. [. . .]

“An Argentine poet called the tango ‘un pensamiento triste que se baila’: a sad thought that is danced. I am not sure. The tango is not just something sad — it is sadness itself that is danced. The ultimate sadness that comes from the earthquake of uprooting. If philosophers don’t manage to get them themselves exiled, at least they should take up tango for a while.”    –Costica Bradatan, “The Wisdom of the Exile,” The New York Times (August 16, 2014)

To read the full article on The New York Times‘ “Opinionator,” click here.