Terrestrial Inferno: Dante Today

“Reading Dante’s Inferno today reminds us that hell has been built on earth. The machinery of war, like the descending circles of hell, trap people into a blind life followed by a blind death – all without meaning.

[. . .]

Dante’s Inferno was written as a warning and a spur to human beings – warning them not to fall prey to the empty promises of wealth and power, spurring them to contact the Divine Other in a life of spiritual reflection in order to find and follow what is good. In this tradition I show the images that are in the video. The hell on earth glimpsed here is the result of our collective indifference to the ambitious search for power and wealth that has been launched by a few in the name of society. I am referring to the so-called ‘global war on terror’. A part of every taxed purchase we make goes to its funding, rendering us complicit in its execution. Moreover, the theme of consumption is an integral part of Dante’s poem. Here I show the way that in the interests of providing food for all, our consumption habits have denied the lives of those animals we consume. The industrial production of food, furthermore, has not eradicated global hunger – rather it has created health epidemics like obesity (not to mention swine flu). Dante would be lost if he were transported to this cruel world: are we equally lost here?”    –V Gimbel, Vimeo, December 11, 2009

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

Jean-Luc Godard, “Notre Musique” (2004)

jeanluc-godard-notre-musique-2004“The 73-year-old director’s serene meditation on Europe’s landscape after battle has an unusually obvious triptych structure, with each panel (or act) named for one of Dante’s three ‘kingdoms.’ The central, hour-long ‘Purgatory’ of a writers’ conference in Sarajevo bridges the opening 10-minute ‘Hell’ and a concluding 10-minute ‘Heaven.'” [. . .]    –J. Hoberman, The Village Voice, November 24-30, 2004


“The Secret Letter From Iraq”

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A Marine’s letter home, with its frank description of life in “Dante’s inferno.”    —Time Magazine, October 6, 2006