“And when the barrator had disappeared, he turned his talons upon his companion and grappled with him right above the moat. But sooth the other was a doughty sparhawk. To clapperclaw him well and both of them fell in the middle of the boiling pond”
Dante-Divine comedy-Inferno: Canto XXII
Dante had been expelled from his native Florence by the time he wrote his magnum opus. Battle worn from the conflict with the Ghibelline’s in Campaldino, betrayed and exiled following his rift with the Papacy, and heart sick following the death of his unrequited beloved-Beatrice, the long descent through the circles of Hell must have seemed like a refreshing morning stroll by comparison.
No such reprieve from the hell and damnation that has been this year unfortunately. Pandemic still hanging like a biblical pall, while the straitjacket of institutional racism becomes torn at the fabric of Americas seams. Hardly surprising and frankly-long overdue, given the four hundred millennia that includes a legacy of human chattel, lynchings,segregation and injustice. Add the imperfect storm of endless black by blue murders, and four rancorous years of ear bleeding dog whistles, and we find the median that was Junes gloom, drowning in it’s inevitable, turbulent, flood.
So there’s a lot of that informing this latest piece, the Inferno’s battling demons-Calcabrina and Alchin-talons drawn and teeth barred as they fall into the seething black pitch-a ready made conflict that conjured for me, not only the fractured divide between the white and black Guelph’s of Dante’s era, but the racial one that has spanned from the Mauritanians in Visigoth’s Europa, the riots I experienced in my native Toxteth back in 82, through to present day America.
Along with it, my own redress to not fall on the sword of only ‘paint what you know”, because broadening ones palette should always extend literally, if we are to confront the white demons of our own.