Monday, June 11, 2018

The Symbolic Figure of the Course of Human History

William Blake,
The Symbolic Figure of the Course of Human History
described by Virgil,
 illustration for The Divine Comedy
by Dante Alighieri (Inferno XIV, 94-119) 1824–27, 

Inferno XIV, 94-119. Dante and Virgil, in the third ring of the seventh circle, come across a blood-red stream. Dante explains that the rivers of Hell are formed by tears falling from the giant old man encased in the mountain of Ida on the island of Crete, the centre of the known world. For Dante this figure embodied the course of human history. His head is of gold, his arms and breast of silver, his lower abdomen brass, and below that he is of iron save that his right foot is of clay; this denotes the decay of the world from the Golden Age before the Fall to Dante's own time, the clay foot representing the degenerate church. Blake endows the figure with a crown, an orb and a sceptre to show that in his view the decay of the world was the result of political oppression - kingship and tyranny.

Why is our Dear Leader being celebrated for the unprecedented meeting with North Korean Dear Leader when the North Korean has been designated a war criminal by the International Bar Association War Crimes Committee, along with the UN? According to that report from several years ago, Kim Jong-un has committed all but one of the 11 crimes against humanity:

  1. Murder
  2. Extermination
  3. Enslavement
  4. Forcible Transfer
  5. Imprisonment
  6. Torture
  7. Sexual Violence
  8. Persecution
  9. Enforced Disappearances
  10. Other Inhuman Acts
Among the abuses reported are these: "starving prisoners are regularly executed when caught scavenging for food; abortions being performed by injecting motor oil into the wombs of pregnant women, according to a former North Korean army nurse; and firing squad executions of prisoners who attempt to escape."

This article in The New York Times from today, June 11th, reports in excruciating detail the crimes against humanity.

Yet, we must watch the POSPOTUS smile and joke with the photographers about making him "look thin" and "perfect" as they line up behind chairs of an impeccably set table. We must listen to his supporters crow in ignorance at his depravity. We must look at headlines of this unprecedented meeting.

What is happening? I have been wrapped up in myself, in my family, pushing these things to the back or down, down, down. I practice tonglen. I breathe in suffering and breathe out love.

What is happening?

We cannot normalize this. We have to resist.

Is it wrong to hope for lightning, for some act of a god to render justice?



  1. He's crazy, he's insane, he's an idiot, he's not very bright, he's...
    There's really no explanation that I can think of for what he's doing. None. Whatever god may have it within its power to step in, now would be a good time. Wish I believed in any of them.

  2. Is it wrong? I don’t know, but I’m right there with you anyway.

  3. It's especially shocking when you consider Trump wouldn't even shake Angela Merkel's hand when he met with her. The theme of this administration seems to be, "To hell with our allies of yore, let's embrace authoritarianism!"

  4. You will never destroy an enemy that you embrace.

  5. It appears that William Blake and Dante were dealing with what we are dealing with now, doesn't it? Astounding to see that something very much like Blake's illustration for The Divine Comedy was used in the design of the Statue of Liberty.

    My sense of absurdity and the darkest of humor was awakened when you mentioned lightning. I stumbled on this in the past few days:

    Our bizarre president is the creator of his own downfall and will likely be struck by his own lightning. May we all survive this insanity.

    Oddly enough, here's more about lightning that turned up just now as I was googling. Coincidence? The end of The Divine Comedy:

    "Yet my wings were not meant for such a flight —
    Except that then my mind was struck by lightning
    Through which my longing was at last fulfilled.

    Here powers failed my high imagination:
    But by now my desire and will were turned,
    Like a balanced wheel rotated evenly,

    By the Love that moves the sun and the other stars."

    I'm not religious and yet I know on a cellular level that there is a "Love that moves the sun and other stars."

    Lightning striking again!

  6. Elizabeth, I feel your sense of unreality. How could this possibly be happening? And yet it is. And now, today, comes news of plans to build tent cities for the stolen children. Tent fucking cities. I don’t know what to do...


    Some ways to help here.


  8. Thank you, Elizabeth, for this post and for all the comments! We are all in love with the world in our ways and we will never stop loving what is good and righteous. Never. The lightening is made of love.