The eagle of Divine Justice, while most pertinent in the Heaven of Jupiter in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth cantos of Paradise, has its precursors earlier in Paradiso, primarily in Canto VI. The Byzantine emperor Justinian states that “Constantine had turned the Eagle/counter to heaven’s course” (Paradiso VI.1-2). In this context, the Eagle represents empire, implying that empire must follow the course of heaven from east to west; in moving the capital of Rome east to Constantinople, Justinian implies that Constantine was defying the will of the divine. Justinian subsequently moved the capital westward in an attempt to reunite the East and West Roman Empire, thus showing an understanding of the need for unity in empire and an understanding of the relationship between the spiritual and the political (that is, that the spiritual guides the political).Continue reading “Sameness and Difference in a Time of Coronavirus”
Jazz and Purgatorio Collaboration (Inversion Vibes)
Sydney Cannioto, Tommy Castronova, Thomas Gillingham, Katie Haefele, Dong Won Oh, Abigail Ritz, and Emily Zandy
At its narrative and literal levels, Toni Morrison’s Jazz reflects Dante’s Purgatorio through her use of space and directionality. Morrison introduces readers to a New York City that feels distinctly alive, with inhabitants that go in every direction, but ultimately compose one City. Morrison emphasizes the inherent liminality of characters through mapping her narrative onto jazz music; through utilizing the apparent, though purposeful, lack of structure of jazz, Morrison creates characters that are constantly making and remaking themselves and one another. Indeed, the characters of Jazz seem to be both lacking direction and going in many opposing directions at once, much like the style of music the book draws its name from. Jazz music itself is structurally unique―it is composed of a basic iteration of a melody that musicians build upon. Since musicians improvise upon a singular melody, the seemingly chaotic iterations and modifications themselves are a direction and destination. The novel Jazz alludes to the initial chaos of jazz music through the seemingly disjointed stories of its characters. This allusion functions to connect the experiences of each character in order to form a singular melody.
Jazz is an aftermath story that flips the linear spiritual journey of Purgatorio on its head. This structure highlights Joe Trace’s spiritual fulfillment after the crime rather than leading up to the crime. This is shown through the inversion of the seven sins in Purgatory; rather ending with lust, as Purgatory does, Jazz begins with it. Morrison presents Joe as a man whose desires are limited by his relationship with Violet. Similarly, Purgatorio seems to open with a desire for freedom: “May it please you to welcome him- he goes in search of freedom, and how dear that is, the man who gives up his life for it well knows” (70-72). The similarities between Joe’s desire for freedom and the desires for freedom that open Purgatorio are presented in the beginning of Jazz, which demonstrates how Morrison is constructing Joe Trace’s spiritual fulfillment around that of a soul entering purgatory.
Professor McCoy’s comments on utilizing backward design as a pedagogical tool during our unexpected transition to online courses reminded us of the inverted characteristics of Purgatorio and Jazz. In backward design, a class, whether a professor, a student, or anything else in between, must take into account what aspects of the course are most important and rebuild based upon these core aspects. The point is to preserve the thing which everything else is built upon. This thing for our course being collaboration. This too seems to be central to Jazz and Purgatorio. The backward design that we are utilizing in our class is the same as that inversion which is seen in Jazz and Purgatorio. The goal of this inversion is also to consider which aspects of self, of personhood, of community are most important to being, which aspects a person should be rebuilding from in order to reach freedom.
Our Journey Through Beloved
James Bonn, Yadelin Fernandez, Randall Lombardi, Margaret Pigliacelli, Abigail Ritz, Rickie Strong, and Eleanor Walker
Written in the fourteenth century, Dante’s Inferno has become a famous cosmological depiction of Hell, as well as a narrative interpreted by various writers throughout the centuries. Dante’s descent through the nine circles of Hell with his spiritual guide Virgil teaches Dante the consequences for sinning through the punishments he observes in each circle of Hell. After passing the first seven circles and interacting with various historical and mythological characters, Dante and Virgil arrive at the eighth circle of Hell via the monstrous Geryon. The Eighth Circle known as the “Malebolge” contains the fraudulent and malicious sinners and is organized in a succession of ten ring-shaped valleys, or bolgias, that go deeper into Hell as they get closer into the center. Each valley has punishments that are specific to the crimes that are committed in relation to fraud. There are bridges over each of the valleys that the pilgrim and guide take; however, the bridge over the sixth valley has collapsed. This collapsed bridge forces Virgil and the Pilgrim to descend into the valley, in order to continue the journey. Dante sees Jason, the Greek hero, being punished for being a seducer in the first bolgia, where the sinners are punished by being forced to walk single file forever, while demons whip them to keep order. In observing these punishments Dante’s character rediscovers his moral consciousness through the shift in his attitude towards the suffering souls. Initially only pitying few, Dante by the end of his journey through hell has developed empathy for all the souls he witnesses suffering, thus demonstrating Dante’s recovering of his moral way of life and illuminating the act of moral consideration.Continue reading “Our Journey Through Beloved”
This is Paratext
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: This
Chapter 2: Is
Chapter 3: Paratext
To plunge into the paratextual chain of citations is to risk discovering that the subject matter is complex, contingent, and interdependent… It is also to risk discovering that one’s own identity is complex, contingent, and interdependent. ~ Beth McCoy, “Paratext, Citation, and Academic Desire in Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo“*
(This is paratext too.)
The Gaia Hypothesis
“The end of the world has already occurred. We can be uncannily precise about the date on which the world ended. Convenience is not readily associated with historiography, nor indeed with geological time. But in this case, it is uncannily clear. It was April 1784, when James Watt patented the steam engine, an act that commenced the depositing of carbon in Earth’s crust—namely, the inception of humanity as a geophysical force on a planetary scale.” ~ Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World
April 24th. That’s the day that my mom says the leaves will come out every year. They’ve come late this year, probably due to our strange (though, perhaps we shouldn’t consider it to be so strange anymore) winter/spring/winter/spring weather — the snow and the sun and the snow and the sun made the buds hide for longer than normal. But they’re here now, their green-ness slowly emerging, creating interlacing shadows on the sidewalk in front of my apartment. As I emerge the library for the first time in hours, after reading paper after paper about genocide and war and food insecurity, I breathe in the scent of the blossoms on the breeze and shake off the hazy film that coats my brain after I spend too long under fluorescent lights. I let the fresh air wash over me, change the song to something gentle, and walk. I do this a lot as spring (do we have such a season? I do it as the frequency of warm days increases) comes, meandering about random sidewalks and expanding my mental geography; I sit on random benches, walk into churches, wander around stores, sit in fields, find shapes in clouds, watch sunsets and sunrises and moonsets and moonrises, talk with friends, pet cats (if they deem me to be worth their time). Continue reading “The Gaia Hypothesis”
Lost in Space, Episode 2: The One About Progress or What’s in a Line (On a Line? Is It Even a Line?)?
“How shall man measure Progress where the dark-faced Josie lies? How many heartfuls of sorrow shall balance a bushel of wheat? How hard a thing is life to the lowly, and yet how human and real! And all this life and love and strife and failure, — is it the twilight of nightfall or the flush of some faint-dawning day?” ~ W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
At the behest of Professor Lytton Smith we rove around Welles 216 like pinballs, attempting to consciously consider the space and our mosey about it in the context of the concept of line. We circle around one another, around desks, a few circle around the desk at the front (The back? The north? The whiteboard-side? In any sense, it is an area generally designated as the professor’s space when class is in session), some change direction, and someone exits the room and strolls down the hallway and back. In both this session and another that Professor Smith leads later in the semester, he focuses us on line (in line!). Lines in poems, lines in maps, lines in prints, in paintings, in drawings, lines in code, lines in roads, lines in paths. It was fascinating (at least to me) to dive deep into the spatial connotations that the concept of lines brought to these many various contexts. Continue reading “Lost in Space, Episode 2: The One About Progress or What’s in a Line (On a Line? Is It Even a Line?)?”
Ceci n’est pas une artiste
By Lindsey “Yee” Kriaris and Abby “Haw” Ritz
Last semester, we participated in an independent art exhibit with some of our mutual friends (Marty Benzinger, Clio Lieberman, Sabrina Saleta, Maddie Walker, and Natalie Hayes). This was actually how Lindsey and I first met! We all had certain things in common: we liked art and we liked to make art in our free time, but none of us had ever participated in an art exhibition before. We gathered as a group throughout the semester, and brainstormed potential themes. Something that could not only apply to all of us individually, but something that could also apply to all of us as a group; a theme that would not only allow us to express all those things which we wanted to express but would allow us to express through the various different mediums with which we all worked. Everyone in the group had a different style, different medium, and different point of view. However, we all appreciated having a chance to promote art-making on campus. This was an entirely different artistic experience for both of us, predicated as it was on sharing what we made and considering what we made to be art, and thus, in turn, considering ourselves to be artists. Continue reading “Ceci n’est pas une artiste”
Lost in Space, Episode 1: The One Where I Need to Tell Everyone I Studied Abroad
“I just wanted to make sure our people hadn’t floated away… but I took a walk around and it looked like everyone was tucked in tight.” ~Wendy S. Walters, “Lonely in America”
When I was abroad, my best friend from home visited me, flying in a week before the program ended. She arrived at my dorm frazzled and mildly discombobulated from a day of travel and navigating a city – and a country – she was unfamiliar with only for me to promptly toss her on a bike and drag her into the city center. As we biked across a canal (a most stereotypical scene for the Netherlands) I listened as she marveled at sights and sounds I had become so familiar with; it was strange, almost, to be looking at the city where I had lived for six months – and was now about to leave – through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time. I turned to her as we made our way down to the farmer’s market, wanting to describe something about the different routes that could be taken from the dorm to the city center but stopped as I realized that I wouldn’t be able to communicate the true intent behind the comment. Continue reading “Lost in Space, Episode 1: The One Where I Need to Tell Everyone I Studied Abroad”
Q: What Could Be Better Than Studying in the Watercolor Studio?
A: An Art department!
“Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched… this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society” ~ W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
Sitting at the paint-splattered tables in the room-formerly-known-as-the-watercolor-studio, I watch the sky darken through the enormous windows. It’s a good place to study, always quiet and full of a gentle, calming vibe (it must be something to do with those big windows, the paint on every surface, the vases full of plastic flowers balancing on the edge of the sink, the half-finished canvases lounging on the shelves) but I find its emptiness occasionally unnerving. The halls of the North Side of Brodie feel almost eerie sometimes; sure, people pass through on their way to and fro dance studios and the theater and Art History offices and the very occasional fine arts course but generally the halls are as empty as the walls (and the walls are very empty). As I ponder the emptiness of the space, I feel an old frustration bubble up. The parts of the campus that formerly housed the Art department seem to scream of an “If only…”
Continue reading “Q: What Could Be Better Than Studying in the Watercolor Studio?”
What Selena Gomez Got Right
“Modern poetry aims at creating a semantics that is seemingly without syntax, which is to say a semantics in which the opposition between word and thing — between the two articulations of language or between the opposition of linguistic and motor activity — pushes toward the ‘rediscovered truth’ of a simple rather than a double articulation.” ~ Ronald Schleifer
Have you ever heard that one Selena Gomez song, “Love You Like A Love Song”? You know, the one that goes, “I, I love you like a love song, baby / I, I love you like a love song, baby / I, I love you like a love song, baby / And I keep it in re-pe-pe-peat.” Linguistically and musically, it’s not the most stylized, polished, or sophisticated (or necessarily likable) song, but, jinkies, can it get a point across. The repetition throughout the chorus forces the song into your (or, at least, my) mind and keeps it there for eons. As nostalgic as I am (not) for my early teenage years, this song does not come to me unprompted; rather, I was reminded of it when thinking over the relevance of repetition in the context of art and communication. Continue reading “What Selena Gomez Got Right”