Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Barack Obama in Hell

They just can't help it. Demonize anyone to the right of Marx, that is. I'm speaking of this new free verse translation of Dante's inferno, by Mary Jo Bang, in which she uses familiar terms, contemporary references, urban slang, and other colloquialisms in order to render the text more relevant and comprehensible to modern ears. Bueno. Much of it works very well.

In fact, I had the same idea in mind with the Cosmogenesis and Cosmobliteration sections of the book. In particular, there are a number of musical references packed in there, and at least one of them -- John Coltrane's A Love Supreme -- is referenced in the Inferno as well. Bang puts it in Canto I, where it reads

It was daybreak, the sun was rising with the stars / That were with it when the first clock started -- The spring wound by the hand of a love supreme

In the Coonifesto, we read Spiraling outside in, past the viaduct of dreams, the seventh trumpet dissolving in shee-its! of sound, One Living Being, Life of All, A Love Supreme, take the coltrain to the old grooveyard...

No, I'm no Dante, but I do have a noetic license, so there is also a reference there to the book of Revelation, to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks ("viaduct of dreams") and to Coltrane's early saxophone style (called by one reviewer "sheets of sound").

For that matter, the Coonifesto has a reference to the Poet himself on pp. 253-254, with "the Love that removes the sin and other scars (speaking allegheirically)." This is a play on the last line of the Divine Comedy ("the Love that moves the sun and other stars") and on Dante's full name (Alighieri).

By the way, why did he call it a comedy? Because our Florentine pneumanaut starts off in some deep shit and ends in happiness -- whereas in tragedy it is the other way around. And ultimately, like Finnegans Wake, it is meant to be about all of us, in all times and all places. For example, in Canto XVI, our Unknown Friend says By this Comedy, / If it ever makes its way into the world, I swear to you, / Reader -- my alias, my twin...

So anyway, things are going pretty well in hell until we reach the 21st Canto -- the seventh circle, close to the bottom -- where we meet a variety of human monsters such as the mass murdering Killer Clown John Wayne Gacy; the sadistic wife of a Nazi concentration camp commandant; Gestapo captain Klaus Barbie; former Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi; genocidal Serbian commander Dragon Nikolić; a sadistic female Nazi concentration camp warden; and, of course, "crazy Rummy," AKA Donald Rumsfeld.


Does this not demonstrate how a tenured tool may spend her entire life immersed in a text, and yet, miss the whole point? What kind of moral retard confuses an American Secretary of Defense with mass murderers and genocidal Nazis?

Wrong question. What kind of morally stunted ovary tower hackademic doesn't?

She also missed a number of divinely golden comedic opportunities, for example, in circle five, which houses the "lifelong angry," where "Mud-covered souls gnaw at one another the way fury once gnawed them from inside out." Why not just say MSNBC? (Hey, the acronym even works: Mudcovered Souls @ NBC.)

In the same circle are the "sad-faced pouters, who never had a good word or a pleasant thought to offer." Why not just say feminists? That way she could say something both funny and true! But then she wouldn't be a feminist...

But where she really misses an opportunity is in circle eight, which is even lower than Rumsfeld's nasty home. It "is divided into ten concentric crevices, each for a type of fraud distinctly punished in a manner that befits it."

Fraud... fraud... What would be a possible contemporary reference to really serious and hellworthy fraud? It would have to be big, like the most massive fraud ever perpetrated on the American people. Hmm... thinking. Maybe Mitt Romney pretending not to be a mass murderer?

Down in the eighth circle we meet Geryon, "an image of fraud with the face of an affable man, but whose body is pure serpent."

An affable man... but pure serpent... hmm... Maybe a politician. Can't be a conservative though, since no conservatives are affable. Rather, they're all mean and hateful, so that won't work.

As we make our descent, we "see how plastic fraud is as it assumes many forms." Maybe it would help if we define fraud:

"A false representation of a matter of fact -- whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed -- that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury."

So, lying and concealing in order to sell us something we wouldn't want if the truth were known.

I've got it! All the Democrats who voted to authorize the war in Iraq? Nah, most Republicans voted for that as well...

As we make our way toward circle nine, "fraud and violence merge," and we see "what happens when might marries a monster."

Let's see... the state supposedly has a monopoly on the use of legitimate violence. But what if fraud was used in order to gain this monopoly, and the violence is deployed in order to enforce the fraud?

I've got it: Fox News, which has such a monopoly over the competition! Except for the fraud and violence, it's a perfect fit. And it will get big laughs in the faculty lounge.

... every wrong that Heaven hates is / In the end, an injustice. Each injustice injures / Someone -- either by violence, or else through fraud.

Since fraud is an evil unique to humankind / God hates it all the more. Therefore, / Schemers are farther down, so suffer greater pain. --translation by Bang


Blogger julie said...

That's disappointing. I had high hopes for her translation, but I forgot about the tenured wackademic tendency to mix in a heaping helping of leftist bs with every thing they produce.

12/17/2013 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, let the dead bury the tenured.

12/17/2013 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger vanderleun said...

Hey, I'ma readin' that Bang Infierno too!

12/17/2013 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger vanderleun said...

" What kind of moral retard confuses an American Secretary of Defense with mass murderers and genocidal Nazis?"

Hey, pretty much every gyno-American with Academiarhea.

12/17/2013 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

It is fascinating how demonized someone like Rumsfeld is by the left. I recall my own vitriol towards Reagan and his cohorts when I was younger. I was so misinformed, but I also was participating in a scapegoating impulse to fit in with my tribe. Had I thought differently, I would have been ostracized much like an ancestry tribal outcast.

12/17/2013 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I was the same way with Reagan. The other night I saw a rerun of a Tonight Show from 1975, with Carson interviewing him. He was so charming, witty, likable, and informative, it had me once again wondering what I was thinking. Or even who I was.

12/17/2013 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Thanks, that got me searching it out. I agree.

12/17/2013 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That kind of prejudice is everywhere in popular culture, which is why St. Breitbart always said that politics is downstream from culture, especially for LoFos. I'm especially offended by liner notes that bite the hand of the person who just purchased the CD.

For example, I just purchased this very interesting historical survey of "new age" music, called I Am the Center, all recorded by musical eccentrics from before the genre became a consumer commodity.

Sure enough, the compiler writes of going on a cross country search for vintage new age. Because of expensive gas, it was probably "the last chance to do something like this," for "I gazed into the American abyss, and it gazed also into me. This was right before... the Dick Cheney energy bill."

Now, what is that supposed to even mean? And would he say the same of the even more expensive gas during the Obama administration? Of course not. These people live in a simplistic, binary mythworld.

12/17/2013 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

It's even fashionable among conservative/libertarians to bash Reagan because he didn't put a lid on spending. I understand that, but I also know the context of how it worked. Reagan was dealing with a real external enemy in the Soviet Union as well as the internal progressive enemy who was constantly trying to undermine him. Ted Kennedy, for example. He made a choice to break the USSR first, deeming it the larger threat, while hoping that good sense and basic arithmetic would prevail with the deficit.

Today, it looks like that might have been a miscalculation, though I think Eastern Europe still appreciates the path we took.

12/17/2013 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not just that, but congress flat refused to reduce spending under Reagan -- although one time they promised to do so in exchange for a tax hike. I'm surprised Reagan would trust a liberal, but the decent always have difficulty imagining the motives of the indecent. It's something the indecent rely on.

12/17/2013 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of which, this book on the pettifogging legal adventurers who brought us Roe & Doe is predictably shocking. Also shocking that of the two who voted no, one was a JFK appointment, while five who voted yes were appointed by Nixon and Ike. Republicans. They thirst for death.

12/17/2013 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I wonder why health insurance doesn't come under the penumbra of the same right to privacy that supposedly makes abortion beyond the reach of the state?

12/17/2013 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Because the assouls don't want it to.

12/17/2013 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not only were these guys dishonest, but really sneaky as well, especially Douglas and Brennan. Also, the opinion was written in such a way that it would have a multitude of "unforeseen consequences," quite similar to how ObamaCare is having all these "unforeseen consequences." Each is a case of writing law with a sledgehammer.

12/17/2013 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. the contradictory penumbras, I figure it's for the same reason that leftist school policies result in six-year-olds being charged with sexual harassment even as older kids are taught the ins and outs of an array of deviant sexual practices.

12/17/2013 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yeah, if only that poor kid had kissed another boy, it would be constitutionally protected.

12/17/2013 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Exactly. Speaking of which, the Sultan rings the same gong

12/17/2013 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

As off topic as it gets:

Me favorite version of A Christmas Carol. If you've got 25 mins,
we've got the 1971 animated version.

"The excellent 1971 animated version of the Charles Dickens classic. Animated in the style of 1800s engravings by the great Richard Williams Studio. Featuring the voices of Alistair Sim Michael Redgrave and Michael Hordern reprising his 1951 performance as Marley's Ghost . Animation by Ken Harris, Abe Levitow, among others. Produced by Chuck Jones. This film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for 1972"

12/17/2013 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Rick - thanks, that's perfect just now.

Speaking of Christmas movies, does anyone have any good recommendation for actual Christ-mas shows for kids? I've been looking around for something to help introduce the nativity story; the only thing I can find with actual Christian themes is Veggie Tales, which would be fine except my kids don't like them. I think they'd enjoy the old "Little Drummer Boy," but it's been taken offline.

Every other kids' show is either about Santa or some generically secular version of the usual shows with a tepid lesson about giving presents and being generous. No Christ allowed. The Curious George one was particularly bad: it featured a new "carol" that went something like, "Monkey, monkey, monkey, Christmas! Monkey, monkey, monkey, elephant, rhino, Christmas!" There were more words, but that was the gist.

12/17/2013 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Speaking of OT, is this our favorite Windy Hindi? Looks like he has discovered the deep spiritual joys of crony capitalism:

Chopra is also paid the highest salary range among so-called governor-in-council cabinet appointments, with potential earnings of more than half a million dollars a year as Canada Post CEO. Chopra is paid at the CEO 8 level, meaning he receives between $440,900 and $518,600 a year in salary to head an organization that has nearly two dozen presidents and vice-presidents.

His salary range has been bumped up from the $422,500-to-$497,100 range for his job when he was appointed for a five-year term effective Feb. 1, 2011, according to the cabinet order that appointed him.

The think tank told the postal service to eliminate door-to-door in order to solve some of their financial problems.

Canada Post officials said Wednesday there is no conflict of interest in Chopra sitting on the board of an organization that appears to have heavily influenced the decisions of the Crown corporation he also heads.

12/17/2013 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I love the claymation version of Tolstoy's "Martin the Cobbler". It always makes me cry, though.

12/17/2013 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Really? Chopra has a say in how Canada delivers its mail? Yikes.

12/17/2013 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Always liked "A Charlie Brown Christmas". In it Linus tells us "what Christmas is all about".

And there is the movie from a few years ago that is well done called "The Nativity Story".

12/17/2013 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I consulted with Tristan, and he recommends The Search for Santa Paws. Not Christian per se, but lots of nice messages.

12/17/2013 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Of course, he's very partial to dogs.

12/17/2013 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

well you got the 1st 4 letters right!

12/18/2013 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Feeling buyer's remorse

12/18/2013 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...


Good question. A Charlie Brown Christmas? I'm not familiar with anything other than that in the mediasphere. We just have a creche (which the kids love) and read the beginning of Luke.

The Catholic church is still waiting for its next Frank Capra.

12/18/2013 08:33:00 AM  

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