“A Dante-esque Limbo”: Unemployment Claims in the Wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic

“With a flood of unemployment claims continuing to overwhelm many state agencies, economists say the job losses may be far worse than government tallies indicate.

“The Labor Department said Thursday that 3.8 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the six-week total to 30 million. But researchers say that as the economy staggers under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of others have lost jobs but have yet to see benefits.

[. . .]

NYTimes-Coronavirus-Pandemic-Unemployment-Dante-Limbo

Photo by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn for The New York Times

“New York has started processing claims from gig workers and freelancers, but one of those, Seth Flicker of Brooklyn, hasn’t had any luck.

“‘Not a phone call nor an email, nothing,’ said Mr. Flicker, 52, who applied in mid-March after his work as a handyman came to a halt. ‘We are stuck with absolutely nowhere to turn,’ he said, calling his situation ‘a Dante-esque limbo.’

“Mr. Flicker was able to delay paying his electric bill without a penalty and sent a check to the phone company, but he is worried about covering May’s rent. ‘I haven’t figured it out yet,’ he said. ‘It’s nerve-racking.'”  –Nelson D. Schwartz, Tiffany Hsu, and Patricia Cohen, “Stymied in Seeking Benefits, Millions of Unemployed Go Uncounted,” The New York Times, April 30, 2020

Contributed by Martin Kavka, Florida State University

“The Seven Circles of Dishwashing Hell”

“I don’t want to be dramatic or anything, but sometimes, even the most mundane of chores becomes epic to me. Dante Alighieri may have been writing about Hell in his Inferno, but it seems just like dishwashing to me.

Every night after dinner, it goes something like this:

Limbo – Some people think dinner is over. Some people just finally sat down to eat 30 seconds ago. No one is actively clearing the table, but some dishes are in the sink.

[. . .]

Gluttony – So I ate the brownies and ice cream. And it became like the mud Virgil (Dante’s guide in the underworld, you’ll recall) fed to the three mouths of Cerberus.

[. . .]

Violence – A river of blood (how my hands feel right now) is where Dante finds those who are violent to their neighbor. Gnarled thorny trees (how my hands feel) are those who are violent to themselves. The great plain of burning sand (does anyone have any Bag Balm? I think the skin on my hands needs revitalizing!) is what awaits those who are violent toward God.

[. . .]

The absolute center of hell – Like Lucifer, half submerged in the ice lake, one last thing remains in the sink: the soggy, stubborn end of an onion, carelessly tossed in the there and causing a slow drain. I pluck it out and head literally to the TV room, but metaphorically into the River of Lethe, or forgetfulness. Otherwise, why would I do this again tomorrow night?”    –Beth McConnell, A Madison Mom, September 10, 2016

The Nine Circles of Survey Research Hell

“When Dante Alighieri was composing the Inferno section of his epic poem, the Divine Comedy, he was surely thinking of online survey content and execution. Okay, maybe he was thinking of something else. Nonetheless, Dante’s visionary landscape of falling into a place where everything around you burns to ruin can apply to various situations. It certainly applies to how shoddy survey research can incinerate your market research. Let’s keep it heavenly then, by avoiding these survey circle hells.”

“First Circle (Limbo): This place (or state of being) is not that bad. It’s full of nice gardens where pagans like Plato, Virgil and Julius Caesar hang out. They never had a chance to convert to Dante’s religion, but get a pass for being notable and thus hang out in blandness for eternity.

“Here on earth, that’s the problem when it comes to market research. Nothing happens. You’ve released a survey, and it’s as quiet as a Nickelback internet fan site. Response rates are low. Why is this happening?

“How to get out of this hell: There are many explanations, as you will see, found by plunging deeper into the rest of the survey circle hells.” […]   –qSample, qSample, April 4, 2016

The 9 Layers of Thanksgiving Hell

–Rae, Peas and Cougars, November 22, 2011

Kim Addonizio, “Blues for Dante Alighieri”

Kim Addonizio‘s blues poem first appeared in the December 2002 issue of Poetry magazine, and was later included in the collection What is This Thing Called Love (2004):Kim-Addonizio-Blues-for-Dante-Alighieri

Listen to Addonizio read and discuss the poem here.

Contributed by Jessica Beasley (Florida State University ’18)

Piazza del Limbo, Florence, Italy

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Contributed by Patrick Molloy

“The End of Limbo”

st-peters-rome-the-end-of-limbo“The Vatican announced on Friday the results of a papal investigation of the concept of limbo. Church doctrine now states that unbaptized babies can go to heaven instead of getting stuck somewhere between heaven and hell” [. . .]    –Michelle Tsai, Slate, April 23, 2007

Contributed by Zac Milner (Bowdoin, ’07)