Le LA du Monde a film directed by Ghislaine Avan

“Tap-dancer, choreographer, and video artist, Ghislaine Avan has been working since 2006 to achieve a choreographic and transmedia work inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy.

“The diptych includes a choreographic ensemble of 10 pieces entitled Seuil (Threshold), and a film entitled Le LA du Monde, the result of filming, since 2006, people around the world, from all backgrounds, nationalities and in all languages, reading an excerpt from Dante’s poem.”

Of the project’s goals, the artist lists the following:

  • “Celebrating on September 14, 2021, the 700th Anniversary of Dante’s death.
  • “Realizing/Creating a worldwide installation entitled Divine Babel: the simultaneous screening of the film Le LA du Monde with the 100 cantos of the Comedy projected on 100 screens, located in 100 different places around the world.
  • “Representing all continents to make this Babel truly divine.”

View the English trailer for “Le LA du Monde” on YouTube.

Contributed by Ghislaine Avanghi

Dante’s Last Laugh

“Dante Alighieri will forever be associated with Florence, city of his birth and the dialect he helped elevate such that it would one day become the basis of Italy’s national language. Yet when Dante died nearly 700 years ago this week, Florence isn’t where he ended up.

“The story of how Dante’s remains came to be in Ravenna isn’t that complicated. It’s how they came to stay there that gets strange.

“When the poet died, sometime between September 13-14th, 1321, he hadn’t seen Florence for some 20 years. Exiled for life after finding himself on the losing side of a war for control of the city, Dante spent the next several years roaming, defiantly refusing conditional offers to return home on terms he saw as unjust.” [. . .]   — Jessica Phelan, The Local, September 14, 2018

Beatrice: A New Social Network Platform Focused on the Italian Language

beatrice web platform italian language social network screenshot

“La battaglia per la difesa e la diffusione della lingua italiana si sposta ora sui social. A due anni dal successo di ‘Adotta una parola,’  la campagna volta a sensibilizzare le persone verso un utilizzo più corretto e consapevole della nostra lingua, la società Dante Alighieri lancia una nuova iniziativa.

“Dal nome della musa del Sommo Poeta nasce così Beatrice, la nuovissima piattaforma Web, volta a sensibilizzare le persone a condividere le proprie idee, diffondere una più ampia conoscenza del lessico italiano, tenere sotto controllo l’uso di determinati termini, e più in generale diffondere la varietà espressiva della nostra lingua nel modo della comunicazione a livello internazionale.

“Un progetto all’insegna della partecipazione e della creatività che ha come preciso scopo quello di promuovere e rendere sempre più vivo il nostro idioma non solo in Italia, ma in tutto il mondo. ‘L’idea è quella di sfruttare l’enorme rete fisica che la società Dante Alighieri possiede in tutto il mondo trasformandola in rete virtuale,’ spiega Massimo Arcangeli, curatore del progetto.

“Una volta creato il proprio profilo, l’utente avrà la possibilità di invitare i propri amici, avviare discussioni, proporre idee, postare commenti, immagini e video. Potrà, inoltre, organizzare la propria bacheca, inviare messaggi, gestire il proprio sito personale o quello della parola di cui è custode e allo stesso tempo interagire liberamente con altri utenti. Infine, avrà anche la possibilità di mettersi alla prova testando il proprio italiano, attraverso giochi di parole ed esercizi, per individuare e incrementare il livello di conoscenza acquisito.”    –Francesca Berti, “Arriva ‘Beatrice’ e la lingua italiana diventa social,” Blog di Innovazione, April 23, 2014

Malbolge: an Esoteric Programming Language

malbolge-programming-language“Malbolge, invented by Ben Olmstead in 1998, is an esoteric programming language designed to be as difficult to program in as possible. The first ‘Hello, world!’ program written in it was produced by a Lisp program using a local beam search of the space of all possible programs. It is modeled as a virtual machine based on ternary digits.” [. . .]

“The language is named after ‘Malebolge,’ the eighth level of hell in Dante’s Inferno, which is reserved for perpetrators of fraud. The actual spelling ‘Malbolge’ is also used for the sixth hell in the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game.”    —Wikipedia

Alberto Manguel, “Thoughts That Can’t Be Spoken” (2014)

Alberto-Manguel-Thoughts-Spoken-2014

“[ . . . ] A blood clot in one of the arteries that feeds my brain had blocked for a few minutes the passage of oxygen. As a consequence, some of my brain’s neural passages were cut off and died, presumably ones dedicated to transmitting electric impulses that turn words conceived into words spoken. Unable to go from the act of thinking to its expression, I felt as if I were groping in the dark for something that crumbled at the touch, preventing my thought from forming itself in a sentence, as if its shape (to carry on with my image) had been demagnetized and was no longer capable of attracting the words supposed to define it.

“This left me with a question: What is this thought that has not yet achieved its verbal state of maturity? This, I suppose, is what Dante meant when he wrote that ‘my mind was struck / by lightning bringing me what it wished’ — the desired thought not yet expressed in words.”  –Alberto Manguel, “Thoughts That Can’t Be Spoken,” The New York Times, March 7, 2014

Ecstatic Alphabets, MOMA (2012)

ecstatic-alphabets-moma-2012

“In a drawing from 1966, ‘Heaps of Language,’ Robert Smithson assembled a pyramid of words about words: ‘Language’ at the apex, supported by ‘phraseology speech,’ ‘tongue lingo vernacular,’ and on down through a base of synonyms. The playful exhibition ‘Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language,’ opening on Sunday at the Museum of Modern Art, borrows Smithson’s title and runs wild with his vision of words as materials. . .
One could spend a long time here, listening to poets and staring at Bruce Nauman’s hypnotic flashing neon piece ‘Raw War.’ But that’s all prologue; the show begins, in earnest, with a short printed text by Sharon Hayes — one of four woven through the galleries and installed so close to the floor that you have to crouch down to read them. In these paragraphs Ms. Hayes puts herself forth as Virgil to the viewer’s Dante, though she also assumes the roles of spurned lover, diarist and political agitator.” [. . .]    –Karen Rosenberg, The New York Times, May 3, 2012

Loreena McKennitt, “Dante’s Prayer” (Book of Secrets, 1997)

loreena-mckennitt-dantes-prayer-book-of-secrets-1997.jpg
When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone
I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and the fire
Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars
Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We’ll rise above these earthly cares
Please remember me

(from AZ Lyrics)

The Wire

the-wire

“…the literary critic Walter Benn Michaels went so far as to suggest that the beauty and difficulty of watching “The Wire” in English — the multifarious 21st-century English of Baltimore detectives and drug dealers — compares with that of reading Dante in 14th-century Italian.” [. . .]    –Wyatt Mason, The New York Times, March 15, 2010

Verbi Italiani

verbi-italiani-logo

Contributed by Sam Donovan (Bowdoin, ’07)