The System of Dante’s Hell

images-2.jpgI highly recommend Amiri Baraka’s experimental novel from the ’60s, The System of Dante’s Hell. Written under the poet’s name at that time, LeRoi Jones, Baraka gives a highly personal, somewhat autobiographical, account of how the experience of being a black man can be related in terms suggestive of Hell as developed by Dante in the Inferno.

In fact, a modified version of Dante’s system is provided at the beginning of the book. But don’t get trapped into attempting to marry each section of Baraka’s narrative to Dante’s map of Hell.

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Make Predictions Come True

arendt1“Scientism” in politics still presupposes that human welfare is its object, a concept which is utterly alien to totalitarianism. It is precisely because the utilitarian core of ideologies was taken for granted that the anti-utilitarian behavior of totalitarian governments, their complete indifference to mass interest, has been such a shock.

This introduced into contemporary politics an element of unheard-of unpredictability. Totalitarian propaganda, however….indicated even before totalitarianism could seize power how far the masses had drifted from mere concern with interest.

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Remember The Fugs?

This isn’t my favorite Ginsberg short poem but it is one of my favorite poem titles of all time.

Consulting I Ching Smoking Pot Listening to the Fugs Sing Blake

That which pushes upward
          does not come back
He led me in his garden
            tinkle of 20 year phonograph
        Death is icumen in
          and mocks my loss of liberty
One much see the Great Man
        Fear not it brings blessing
               No Harm
            from the invisible world
Perseverance
        Realms beyond
                  Stoned
in the deserted city
            which lies below consciousness
                            June 1966