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Review of Dante’s Inferno: What the Hell is all About!

We can thank Dante for those horrific dreams of burning in purgatory.

Yes, this was first published over 400 years ago, yet, it remains relevant today in all of our media. If Hell appears in a movie, book, TV show, or cartoon, it’s going to drawn from Dante. If you haven’t read THE DIVINE COMEDY yet, then you must. Whether or not you are Christian, you will find some of the most indelible images in the history of literature, as well as a book of redemptive philosophy the likes of which are rarely matched. Also, it’s just great poetry. Seek it out.

Also, Horror fans seem to be less prejudiced when it comes to old or ancient literature. Sure, we all like to stay abreast of Stephen King, Clive Barker, or any number of great living horror authors, but I know of no horror fan who hasn’t read Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, Milton’s PARADISE LOST, Henry James’ THE TURN OF THE SCREW, or Robert Louis Stevenson’s THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. And, yes, no horror fan alive isn’t intimately familiar with the various mythic works of H.P. Lovecraft, or the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe.

There are a few notable details, however, that we would do well to remember when thinking about Hell. First of all, you don’t necessarily have to be dead to go to Hell. In Dante’s visions, he sees people he knows to be alive already languishing in certain Hell circles. Their bad habits on Earth are already torturing their souls. This means that, even though they are in Hell, they are still perhaps poised for redemption.

And the tortures Dante cooked up for these people in the eighth circle! Some of the liars are eternally forced to fight among themselves, punching and kicking and biting for as long as they are lost in their own interests. People have their heads forced down into rock tubes where they are blind and eternally bent. Others are blinded, and also forced to walk backwards eternally. Evil clawed demons called Malabranche tear apart corrupt politicians. Hypocrites wear lead robes and are forced to march. Thieves are eaten alive by serpents. Most notably, some lost souls are in a state of eternal immolation, invisible because of the flames. The notion of Hell being a fiery place likely comes from this very punishment. Yes, demons rend people with swords, and people are forced to live with the symptoms of all the worst diseases. Hey, it’s Hell. Things aren’t supposed to be rosy.

Unlike the epic poems of Homer and Virgil, which told the great stories of their people’s history, Dante’s The Divine Comedy is a somewhat autobiographical work, set at the time in which he lived and peopled with contemporary figures. Dante’s Divine Comedy, a landmark in Italian literature and among the greatest works of all medieval European literature, is a profound Christian vision of humankind’s temporal and eternal destiny. It follow’s Dante’s own allegorical journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso). Guided at first by the character of Virgil, and later by his beloved Beatrice, Dante wrote of his own path to salvation, offering philosophical and moral judgments along the way.

The author of La Commedia (The Divine Comedy), considered a masterwork of world literature, Dante Alighieri was born Durante Alighieri in Florence, Italy, in 1265, to a notable family of modest means. His mother died when he was seven years old, and his father remarried, having two more children.

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Synopsis of “The Plague” by Albert Camus

There is no more important book to understand our times than Albert Camus’s The Plague, a novel about a virus that spreads uncontrollably from animals to humans and ends up destroying half the population of a representative modern town. Camus speaks to us now not because he was a magical seer, but because he correctly sized up human nature. As he wrote: ‘Everyone has inside it himself this plague, because no one in the world, no one, can ever be immune.’

Watch this quick synopsis produced by The School of Life:

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Happy Birthday Charlotte Bronte

Born on this day in Yorkshire, in 1816, the third of six children.  After their mother and two sisters died, the young Bronte’s were educated at home. They developed a rich fantasy life amongst themselves, constructing together the imaginary world of Glass Town and writing of it in dozens of microscopically printed ‘books’.  Charlotte and her brother Branwell invented their shared kingdom of Angria in 1834. In 1846, at Charlotte’s instigation, the Bronte sisters published Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.

Charlotte’s first novel, The Professor, was rejected by several publishers and not published until 1857. Jane Eyre appeared, and was an instant success, in 1847. Then… Branwell Bronte died in September 1848, Emily in December of the same year, and Anne in May 1849. Charlotte, the onluy survivor of 6 siblings, continued to live at Haworth Parsonage with her fater. Shirley was published in 1849 and Villette in 1853, both pseudonymously. In 1854 Charlotte married her father’s curate. She soon died on March 31, 1855.

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Remembering Ernie Pyle, in Honor of National Columnist Day

The Man Who Told America the Truth About D-Day

Ernest Taylor Pyle was a Pulitzer Prize—winning American journalist and war correspondent who is best known for his stories about ordinary American soldiers during World War II. Pyle is also notable for the columns he wrote as a roving human-interest reporter from 1935 through 1941 for the Scripps-Howard newspaper syndicate that earned him wide acclaim for his simple accounts of ordinary people across North America. When the United States entered World War II, he lent the same distinctive, folksy style of his human-interest stories to his wartime reports from the European theater (1942–44) and Pacific theater (1945). Pyle won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for his newspaper accounts of “dogface” infantry soldiers from a first-person perspective. He was killed by enemy fire on Iejima (then known as Ie Shima) during the Battle of Okinawa.

At the time of his death in 1945, Pyle was among the best-known American war correspondents. His syndicated column was published in 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers nationwide. President Harry Truman said of Pyle, “No man in this war has so well told the story of the American fighting man as American fighting men wanted it told. He deserves the gratitude of all his countrymen.”[1]

(August 3, 1900 – April 18, 1945)
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Ralph Waldo Emerson Top 10 Works

I was first introduced to Ralph Waldo Emerson in high school. I don’t recall exactly what I first read, I simply remember carrying his collected works around, along with my journal. Writing and Emerson to me were synonymous and my writing wasn’t writing unless it came after reading some Emerson. His essay on Self Reliance was what I needed and desired to hear at that time. I was a young man, coming into age, I was boxing and finding my self. 20 years later and Emerson is still my go to intellectual when I am going through some rough times, or simply stuck inside my head, and not in a productive way.

For those of you who are not familiar with Emerson, his upbringing and philosophy, this video below created by the Pursuit of Wonder provides a wonderful overview of his life and works:

Ralph Waldo Emerson and his top 10 works. Article for Mind on Fire Books

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.

Below are the top ten works produced by this prolific intellect:
  1. Nature (essay): This is the essay in which he put forward the foundation of Transcendentalism, a belief system that espouses a non-traditional appreciation of nature. He believed that one can learn to understand reality by studying nature.
  2. Self Reliance (essay): Emerson says “Trust thyself”. It is about trusting the force within you, working in harmony with your inner self (particularly the laws of nature), doing things naturally instead of mechanically.
  3. Brahma (Poem): Named for the Hindu god of creation, this poem is both religious and not at the same time.
  4. The American Scholar (speech): This is his speech given to the Phi Beta Kappa society at Cambridge University in which he stated the need for America to declare an intellectual independence from Europe and to develop our nation’s own identity.
  5. Politics (essay): This essay lays out his ideas on politics – being in favor of democracy and individualism. He was very opposed to the State and even goes so far as to say, “Every actual state is corrupt.
  6. The Poet (essay): This essay offers a profound look at poetry’s role in society. It was a major influence for Walt Whitman to publish his own book of poetry, Leaves of Grass.
  7. Experience (essay): An essay about the over-intellectualization of life and why utopian societies will never work. Quite astounding for someone of that era.
  8. The Snow Storm (poem): A beautiful rendition of both the fury or a nighttime winter storm as well as the creative artistry it brings. A poem which runs from furious conflict to slow appreciation in the period of a few lines.
  9. Divinity School Address (speech): A speech given to the graduating class of Harvard Divinity School, it argues that moral intuition is more important than religious doctrine.
  10. Uriel (poem): A tale of Gods and Goddesses, lines vs circles in nature, and the difference between “understanding” and “reason”. This poem, while deep and complex, has everything.

Transcending
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Happy Birthday Lewis Carrol, born on this day in 1832.

To wrap up our many January celebrations, we wish Lewis Carroll a happy birthday! He was born this day in 1832. How many of you are Alice in Wonderland fans? Below is the infamous “Jabberwocky” poem.

Jabberwocky

Art by Salvador Dali

BY LEWIS CARROLL

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
      Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
      And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
      He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
      He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.

Art by Camille Rose Garcia
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Happy Birthday Haruki Murakami

Happy 71st Birthday to one helluva creative writer, Haruki Murakami. Haruki is a Japanese writer. His books and stories have been bestsellers in Japan as well as internationally, with his work being translated into 50 languages and selling millions of copies outside of Japan.


“Today when I awoke from a nap the faceless man was there with me. He was seated on the chair across from the sofa I’d been sleeping on, staring straight at me with a pair of imaginary eyes in a face that wasn’t.” – Excerpt from his latest #novel, ‘Killing Commendatore”
A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art. Killing Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.


#fiction #art #creative #creativewriting #create #artist #writer #author #japan #japanese #amreading #read #books #bookish #booklove #unplug #harukimurakami #haruki #asian #imagination #surreal #abstract #nonfiction #birthday #happybirthday

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William James, an Original Thinker

On January 11, philosopher, writer, and psychologist Williams James was born in 1842. James was instrumental in establishing Harvard’s psychology department, which at its inception was tied to the department of philosophy.


James himself remained unconvinced that psychology was in fact a distinct discipline, writing in his 1892 survey of the field, Psychology: Briefer Course, “This is no #science; it is only the hope of a science” (p. 335). Despite James’s skepticism, in the ensuing century this hope was fully realized in the department he helped to found.


In psychology, James’s work is of course dated, but it is dated as is Galileo’s in physics or Charles Darwin’s in biology because it is the originative matrix of the great variety of new developments that are the current vogue. In philosophy, his positive work is still prophetic. The world he argued for was soon reflected in the new physics, as diversely interpreted, with its resonances from Charles Peirce, particularly by Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, and the Danish quantum physicist Niels Bohr—a world of events connected with one another by kinds of next-to-next relations, a world various, manifold, changeful, originating in chance, perpetuated by habits (that the scientist calls laws), and transformed by breaks, spontaneities, and freedoms. In human nature, James believed, these visible traits of the world are equally manifest. The real specific event is the individual, whose intervention in history gives it in each case a new and unexpected turn. But in history, as in nature, the continuous flux of change and chance transforms every being, invalidates every law, and alters every ideal.

Transcending
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