”‘Moloch’ certainly, despite the horror it holds for Ginsberg, is after all only the comfortably unreal reality of bourgeois America. It is as much ‘invisible suburbs’ as it is ‘monstrous bombs’, and even the poet admits that it ‘entered my soul early’ and that it entails ‘epiphanies’ as well as ‘despairs’ . Rockland too, while it gorges itself eternally on the damned but ‘innocent and immortal’ soul of Solomon, is composed as much of ‘the spinsters of Utica’ as of electroshock therapy, while the latter even provides an opportunity for another apparent mystical experience.” ( Aaron Taylor )
The implications of Dante’s Divine Comedy are readily apparent. Morality became a question of degree, a measure on a scale of weights and measures, al neatly categorized as almost Darwinian. Morality as a survival of the fittest. Dante had nerve; the sheer blatancy and hubris of his aspiration to totalize and systematize thought within his Inferno/Purgatory/celestial/ symphony. The diversity of the textual forms and intellectual interests of the Divine Comedy have defied all academic efforts to place Dante under the purview of a single dominant idea. The problem being the shape shifting nature of aesthetics practiced by Dante inwhich no scholar is nimble enough to keep in captivity. Once captured, Dante continues to dematerialize only to appear at a different unexpected venue.
Clearly, part of Divine Comedy is a treatsie on materialism, whether of a spiritual, intellectual or material accumulation in excess leading to a tour of the deep south with Virgil. For the Beats, morality is very nearly exhausted by the fatiguing requirement to seek experience and authenticity; to be ”real” and rebel for the style and the look , yet demands a consumption of everything at the same time; consumption itself being the password for admittance into Dante’s dens of iniquity whether on penthouse or basement level. The ”Howl” is both a cry of ecstasy and a scream of pain, for they are both the same so for Ginsberg to extoll and glorify both makes perfect sense. Think of Divine Comedy as open ended structure where poets like Ginsberg could contribute to its ultimate final status as a collective, group project.
Despite the absence of tracts about beauty and art, aesthetic issues did command the attention of people in the Middle Ages. Whenever poets or philosophers turned their thoughts to the order of the heavens, whenever they delighted in music or art, they contemplated how the pleasure they took in the artistry of the universe was related to the God who created it. For Dante, aesthetics was the discourse of being and could not be narrowly defined. The aesthetic became the domain in which he considered not only form and proportion, but questions of love, identity, and perfection of the self. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the aesthetic is transformed into a language of existence, and a multiplicity of ”being”, Falsehood could now also be considered a gift of the graces, since the nature of the lie was ambiguous, open to discussion and the facts interpreted as ”images” and no loger as the stiff, aloof icons they were in the Byzantine period.The painter who visually articulated this was Giotto, and a century and a half later, Leonardo DaVinci.
” It matters little to Ginsberg whether the experience is a vision of God (as implied on p. 17) or burning ‘cigarette holes’ in his arms (p. 13). Both constitute a fundamental rebellion against the Moloch that is 1950’s American society. But while the Beat critique of that society is a deep one that can leave few thinking, feeling persons completely satisfied with the status quo, it is also at the same time a glorification of self-destruction, a promotion of a lifestyle that led many of its most prominent devotees to a sad and premature death. To my mind, the Beat life and the bourgeois one are a Scylla and Charybdis. When I read ‘Howl’, it is truly, for me, a journey through Hell (one of which I too have ‘partaken’ to an extent) and indeed, a prophecy of conflagration. It is a description of a Holocaust that can be justified neither by the fleeting ecstasies and elations of its tormented subjects, nor by their dramatic escape from the other, more widely accepted flames of Moloch”
Completed in 1457, Leonardo DaVinci’s portrait of Ginevra de Benci is a masterpiece still shrouded in mystery. A riddle with DaVinci is that he failed frequently and lamentably to finish the paintings he had started. Othes often completed the master’s partly finished canvases for him, or for themselves. Of many paintings it was often impossible to say which portion was Leonardo’s and which was the work of a follower. In the entire world, it is surmised that there are no more than seventeen authenticated paintings by Leonardo. The low figure is nine. Or like Fellini, perhaps 9 1/2. This is a scanty output for a half century long career. A Leonardo painting, then, is an extreme rarity, though any Leonardo work is far more than that.
emblem of the juniper is painted on the back of the portrait panel; the seal is that of an eighteenth century ruler of Liechtenstein" width="425" height="442" />