The job search from Hell – from this side of the table

637 applications for one job. And they managed to get to a list of 27 for the conference interviews! Of course, they did that by having as one of their top criteria “went to the right schools.” Ick.
They brought it on themselves by (1) being in NYC and (2) leaving the field as Open.
The story has a happy ending (at least so far – check back at the time of review one!) – they got to hire 2. The sole comment (so far) notes that they failed on the diversity front, though.

How much are the Kennedys worth?

Here’s an interesting article about the Kennedy money.
I remember about 15 years ago some coverage about the Rockefellers selling Rockefeller Center because the folks of my generation needing cash – I seem to remember that their payout from the family trust was only about $150,000 apiece per year. Hard to be a Rockefeller on $150,000, even in 1990.
So how much does the average 35 year old Kennedy get per year above and beyond earned income?

Thinking of people in big, hot containers in the ground

You know, like in Canto X.

While thousands have fled, two people who tried to ride out the firestorm in a backyard hot tub were critically burned. The pair in Big Tujunga Canyon, on the southwestern edge of the fire, “completely underestimated the fire” and the hot tub provided “no protection whatsoever,” Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said Sunday.
The two individuals made their way to firefighters and were airlifted out by a sheriff’s rescue helicopter. They received adequate notification to evacuate from deputies but decided to stay, Whitmore said.
One of the two was treated and released and the other remained hospitalized in stable condition. A third person was burned Saturday in an evacuation area along Highway 2 near Mount Wilson, officials said. Details of that injury were not immediately known.
“There were people that did not listen, and there were three people that got burned and got critically injured because they did not listen,” Schwarzenegger said at a news conference at the fire command post.

Dante Blogging – Inferno Canto X

Canto X
Canto IX was a Canto of waiting – Canto X gives Dante more to think about than he likes. He see great figures from both sides of the Florentine political schism damned in the tomb of the Epicureans – and this leads him to some thinking about poets. Dante is, perhaps, always about poets and poetry.
Remember the photo of les Alyscamps from my contact Nick? Look at this Gustave Doré version (the resolution is too poor to bother taking it from Wikipedia and reloading it here). Dore has a great picture, but he has the historical phenomenon wrong. Oh, well – what can you do with the Romantics? Still, the Modern Library Esolen translation is printing them, so they’re going to come up.
As Dante says, “The lids have all been raised” (10.8), but you can see that in Nick’s picture as well. Indeed, Roman sarcophagi seldom have their original lids; they were usually taken and recycled into later buildings or art works. In fact, lots of the Alyscamps might have ended up in the facade of St. Gilles du Gard and the cathedral of St Trophime in Arles – Romanesque carvers were never ones to overlook a good supply of pre-quarried marble. And Arles had nothing particularly good local. We call that Green Architecture nowadays.
Of course, the Epicureans in the red-hot tomb wouldn’t have objected in life, because then they believed that death meant the extinction of the soul. Now that they have found out otherwise they might appreciate more permanent monuments on Earth.
Dante first talks with Farinata degli Uberti, an unpleasant Ghibelline; he thinks Dante a bounder, which he probably was. Then Dante talks to another resident of the tomb, Cavalcante de Cavalcanti, a Guelph and father of one of Dante’s poet friends. Cavalcante is worried about his son, who died only months after the action is set. Indeed, the foresight of the dead is confusing – though Dante tries to clear it up. How did Ciacco prophesy? How is it that Cavalcante doesn’t know about his son?
Farinata rather graciously explains that the closer the event the less clear it is.

“As a man with bad vision,” he replied
  “we dimly see things far away. So much
  splendor the sovereign Lord still shines on us.

When things draw near, or happen, emptiness
  is all we see. If no one brings us news,
  we can know nothing of your human state.
(10.100-105)

I’ll have to think about the optics of that. What are the implications for vision if the splendor (splende) is descending from God?
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Was the model who undressed in the Met naked, or nude?

Hyman asked, “Why is this wrong? There were thousands of people in the Met today looking at nudes as art, but as soon as there is a real nude, it’s a big problem.”
Neill had the same question, which she posed to the security guard who detained her.
“She told me there were naked statues everywhere,” the guard said. “I said, ‘Those statues are 400 years old. You’re from the 21st century.’

I vote, with Robert Graves, for nude. This is sly. It’s rhetorical.

The Naked and the Nude

  Robert Graves

For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art.

Lovers without reproach will gaze
On bodies naked and ablaze;
The Hippocratic eye will see
In nakedness, anatomy;
And naked shines the Goddess when
She mounts her lion among men.

The nude are bold, the nude are sly
To hold each treasonable eye.
While draping by a showman’s trick
Their dishabille in rhetoric,
They grin a mock-religious grin
Of scorn at those of naked skin.

The naked, therefore, who compete
Against the nude may know defeat;
Yet when they both together tread
The briary pastures of the dead,
By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
How naked go the sometime nude!

Sorry – Canto X is taking me longer than usual – but take the Gorgons pursuing the nude as a reminder of IX.

Dante Blogging – Inferno Canto IX




Les Alyscamps

Originally uploaded by Nick in exsilio.

Canto IX

Canto IX is a Canto of anticipation – Virgil and Dante wait outside the gate of the City of Dis for someone to open the door. I noticed three things – two of them go together and the third bewildered me for a bit – Esolen’s note helped a lot, though I’m going to have to see what the Lectura Dantis commentary* makes of it, too.

First the bewildering bit:

O voi ch’avete li’ntelletti sani,
  mirate la dottrina che s’asconde
  sotto ‘l velame de li versi strani.
(9.61-63)

O you whose intellects see clear and whole,
  gaze on the doctrine that is hidden here
  beneath the unfamiliar verses’ veil

The literal sense is easy enough – Dante is addressing (ideal) living readers, asking them to interpret – to read verses for doctrine hidden behind the veil. But what? This occurs as Virgil turns Dante away from Medusa and covers his eyes to save him from petrification. Is it to tell us to look when Dante can’t? But then what are we to see?

Actually I think that’s pretty close – we, readers who Dante kindly addresses as persons whose intellects see clear and whole, are to look at Medusa. He can’t.

Esolen helps here. “Dante, we must understand, is in real danger. When Virgil covers his charge’s faace with his hands lest he see the Gorgon and be turned to stone, we must not think it idle….Whatever the danger is (despair?), we are to remember that its approach to Dante might well cause the loss of his eternal soul” (428). Esolen also refers to Dante’s explanation of the 4 ways of interpreting (from the Letter to Can Grande). Since we can read this literally as turning to stone or (the moral sense) the loss of his soul by staying stuck in Hell we are reading beyond the veil. How does that sound? It satisfied me over coffee, at least.

The picture on the right, from the photo stream of my Flickr friend Nick in Exsilio, brings us to the 2 related points. There are two great moments of classical recall and reuse in Canto IX – one of which Dante may have gotten in the folkloric sense.

First, Dante asks Virgil for some reassurance – Dante is once again on the verge of the despair Esolen mentions. Dante asks “has anyone from Limbo ever been this far in Hell?” (tercet 6). Virgil replies that he himself has been all the way to the circle of Judas, when sent by the witch Erichtho to drag a soul up to the land of the living to speak a prophesy. That’s a reference to Lucan’s Pharasalia, book 6, where just like in Virgil’s Aeneid, book 6, we read about the Underworld. We last saw Lucan in the Castle of Limbo in the company of Homer, Horace, and Ovid. Ah, intertextuality!

So, yes, Virgil has walked this path before – yet another reason for Dante to stop whining.

But once the angel from Heaven opens the gates of Dis and our pilgrims walk through, they see a vast field of jumbled tombs, which Dante compares to the Alyscamps at Arles (thanks, Nick!) and a sarcophagus field at Pola – across the Adriatic from Ravenna. You may also remember the Alyscamps from some very orange and yellow van Gogh paintings, which show a rather prettified park version. In Dante’s day it was more of a mess, probably – an area outside the city walls filled with tombs. Alyscamps is the Occitan for what northern French calls “Champs Elysees.” In medieval legend, which may have some relevance for Dante, these were the tombs of the army of Roland, slain by Saracens. Vivid visual image for a field of tombs, though.

*So far only the first two volumes are out. Each Canto gets a good essay in commentary, but each essay’s author is free to focus very narrowly. So far it’s always been interesting but never immediately useful. I’m sure the 2nd time through I will mine lots more to talk about with students.


Click here for all the Danteblogging and none of my other ramblings.

Dante Blogging – Inferno Canto VIII




delacroix_barque-dante

Originally uploaded by COLARES&ARTE.

Canto VIII

It occurred to me that I ought to dig up some creative commons licensed art occasionally – so here is Delacroix’s “The Bark of Dante” – Dante in red and grey; Virgil in brown; and Phlegyas, a damned son of Mars, nude and wrapped in blue. Delacrois really does capture the energy of Phlegyas, who rows the fasting moving transport in Hell. The city of Dis glows red-hot in the background. Esolen compares it to the New Jerusalem (428), but it’s also a counterpart to the quiet castle of the virtuous pagans in Limbo.

Dante recognizes the soul gnawing on the boat – one of his rivals in Florence, a man who profited from Dante’s exile. Dante lets go of his anger, and wishes to see him suffer.

“Teacher, I’ve got a hankering,” said I,
  to see them dunk that spirit in this swill
  before we leave the lake and disembark.”

And he replied, “You will enjoy your fill
  before the farther beach comes into sight.
  Such a desire is good to satisfy.”
(8.52-57)

None of this namby pamby nil nisi bonum de mortuis here, which is, after all, a sentiment based more on a pagan fear of the restless dead than on theology. Dante’s anger is just – and Justice is the key to Hell. Mercy is the key to Purgatory, but we’re not there yet. Somewhere Thomas Aquinas teaches that contemplating the smoke rising from Hell will be one of the just delights of Heaven (I don’t know, I’m half remembering it and have no chance of finding the citation while sitting at the kitchen table – anyone have an idea?). We’ll see. Certainly the damned soul of Filippo Argenti does nothing to ask for mercy from Dante’s. The damned do not apologize. That’s why they’re damned.

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Life-sized equestrian statue of Augustus found in Germany?

Big archaeological find in Gießen, north of Frankfurt.

“There has never been a find of such quality and preservation in Germany,” a statement from the ministry said, adding that it was a “sensational” discovery.
On August 12, archaeologists pulled the gold-gilded, life-sized head of a horse and a shoe of the emperor – who ruled the Roman Empire between 23 BC and 14 AD – from a stream in what was once the Roman outpost Germania Magna. Experts there have uncovered several bits of the statue among some 20,000 artefacts uncovered at the site in recent years.
Scientists from the University of Jena believe it may have been destroyed by Roman soldiers retreating after the legendary Varusschlacht, or the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, when Germanic tribes ambushed and wiped out three Roman legions. As the remaining Roman troops retreated after the devastating defeat, they destroyed most of what they could not take with them.

Very exciting! Not much more to the article than that.