Stagger onward rejoicing

Tag: dante (page 1 of 1)

an allegory of American political life, especially online

Dante, Inferno, Canto XXX (Hollander translation): 

And I to him: ‘Who are these two wretches
who steam as wet hands do in winter
and lie so very near you on your right?’

‘I found them when I rained into this trough,’
he said, ‘and even then they did not move about,
nor do I think they will for all eternity.

‘One is the woman who lied accusing Joseph,
the other is false Sinon, the lying Greek from Troy.
Putrid fever makes them reek with such a stench.’

And one of them, who took offense, perhaps
at being named so vilely, hit him
with a fist right on his rigid paunch.

It boomed out like a drum. Then Master Adam,
whose arm seemed just as sturdy,
used it, striking Sinon in the face,

saying: ‘Although I cannot move about
because my legs are heavy,
my arm is loose enough for such a task.’

To which the other answered: ‘When they put you
to the fire, your arm was not so nimble,
though it was quick enough when you were coining.’

And the dropsied one: ‘Well, that is true,
but you were hardly such a truthful witness
when you were asked to tell the truth at Troy.’

‘If I spoke falsely, you falsified the coin,’
said Sinon, ‘and I am here for one offense alone,
but you for more than any other devil!’

‘You perjurer, keep the horse in mind,’
replied the sinner with the swollen paunch,
‘and may it pain you that the whole world knows.’

‘And may you suffer from the thirst,’ the Greek replied,
‘that cracks your tongue, and from the fetid humor
that turns your belly to a hedge before your eyes!’

Then the forger: ‘And so, as usual,
your mouth gapes open from your fever.
If I am thirsty, and swollen by this humor,

‘you have your hot spells and your aching head.
For you to lick the mirror of Narcissus
would not take much by way of invitation.’

I was all intent in listening to them,
when the master said: ‘Go right on looking
and it is I who’ll quarrel with you.’ […]

‘Do not forget I’m always at your side
should it fall out again that fortune take you
where people are in wrangles such as this.
For the wish to hear such things is base.’ 

Ché voler ciò udire è bassa voglia — to will to listen to such contemptible trash, to desire it, is base, low, self-degrading. Let me be Virgil to your Dante: When people online or on TV are going at each other, when they’re engaged in their spittle-flecked mutual recriminations — avoid it, flee it. Find something, almost anything, else to do with your time.