09 October 2010


Locus Focus: Take Twenty-Two!

I'm still paddling about in the Horror pond, but it's time to think about next month's challenge so that everyone has time to plan ahead.

With my affection for alliteration, I came up with three ideas:

a) Narnia in November
This was something I came up with long before Themed Challenges ever came to mind--my little way of drumming up anticipation for the movie adaptation of The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader". But I'm not about to ask my friends to shotgun different Narnian settings unless they want to!

b) Non-fiction November
It's definitely challenging, but not also as limiting as it seems. There are memoirs, biographies, histories, and travelogues . . . And I know I've always wanted to step into the home kitchens of some of those authors of glossy cookbooks!

c) November in New York, New York
I just realised how many great books in the world--or in my personal collection alone--are set in this amazing city. It is one setting that authors and filmmakers love with equal passion, so we might get to do another Movie Edition!

Please vote for your choice in the combox. Note that although I like making all my Loci Foci for the month line up according to the theme, you don't have to extend the challenge to your own. Link up the setting you want to share for that week.

Circle IX
by Dante

I heard a voice cry: "Watch which way you turn:
take care you do not trample on the heads
of the forworn and miserable brethren."

Whereat I turned and saw beneath my feet
and stretching out ahead a lake so frozen
it seemed to be made of glass. So thick a sheet

never yet hid the Danube's winter course,
nor, far away, beneath the frigid sky,
locked the Don up in its frozen source . . .

The way frogs sit to croak, their muzzles leaning
out of the water, at the time and season
when the peasant woman does her day's gleaning--

Just so the livid dead are sealed in place . . .

Never mind featuring one author too often! Here I am featuring one text too often. Then again, is there such a thing as "too often" where the Inferno is concerned? (Answer: No!) This time, we descend to Circle IX--"the bottom of the universe"--"that final dismal hole/ which bears the weight of all the steeps of Hell." This is where the traitors land.

And this is where it gets really personal--for what is more personal than betrayal? I like the reading that says that these sinners are frozen forever in ice that will never melt because acts of treachery are devoid of human warmth: the warmth of affection we should feel for family; the warmth of patriotism we should feel for country; the warmth of hospitality we should feel for guests (or obligation we should feel for hosts); and the ineffable warmth we feel especially for our masters who have been a little of all this to us.

Note also that all the rounds of this frozen circle are named after people: the famous traitors Cain, Antenor, Ptolomeus, and of course, Judas. But even he whose kiss in the Garden of Olives was worse than an outright knife in the back is not at the epicentre of Hell. This final figure was the first sinner: he who was once the Morningstar and the fairest of the all the Angels in Heaven is now the "Emperor of the Universe of Pain." (Can you say, "Pyrrhic defeat"?)

It reminds us that at the centre of every sin is the same revolt against God that started the war in Heaven--the betrayal of one's creator.

Now it's your turn!
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D

Other Loci Foci for This Week . . .

Michael D. O'Brien's Goli Otok @ Spike Is Best

Bluebeard's Chamber @ Birdie's Nest

Image Source: The Inferno by Dante (Translated by John Ciardi)


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

My vote is for Narnia!

Sullivan McPig said...

*Shivers* Now that's a scary setting indeed!
And I agree that betrayal is one of the worst things you can do.

Birdie said...

I've always been fascinated by the fact that in the innermost circle of Dante's hell, it is frozen. So different to the "hellfire and brimstone" images. Did you know that there is a frozen tundra in Milton's hell as well? The fallen angels are moved from the lake of lava to the frozen land so that they will not get adjusted to the heat, and so they suffer afresh. Milton always was vindictive LOL

I totally vote for the Non-fiction stuff! I'd love to do Anna Quindlen's London or Edith Head's Hollywood.

*Huggles you*

Enbrethiliel said...


Irena: Thanks for your input! I'm glad someone else is eager to do Narnia. (Note: even if it lost, I would have done a Narnian setting for the last week of November, anyway, right before the premiere.)

Sully: Yes, betrayal leaves very deep wounds. =(

Would you like to vote, too? No pressure to join that week. I know you're busy. =) But I do appreciate your input!

Birdie: Yes, it's quite a departure from what we think Hell is supposed to be. But in light of what betrayal means, it totally fits, aye?

I hadn't remembered that about Milton. Paradise Lost never really did it for me, I'm afraid. =P

Thanks for your vote! We'll need a few others to chime in, and I hope I won't need to break a tie! =)

Sullivan McPig said...

It would have to be Non-fiction November in that case as I never read the Narnia books and can't think of any New York books at the top of my head.

Belfry Bat said...

I have heard (this may be myth) that when missionaries met the Inuit and tried to warn them that Hell was fiery and sulferous, they directly demanded the shortest route thither. If it's in any way a true story, I hope the missionaries mentioned weren't Catholic...

In other antiparallels, Steve Kellmeyer noted
"The name “seraphim”, the name borne by the angels closest to God, means “the burning ones.” ... Hell is fire, Purgatory is fire, Heaven is, apparently, fire."

Belfry Bat said...

Oh, a vote?
hmm... I'm sorry, none of them is doing anything for me... I suppose I'd say "Nonfiction", though I can't think what I'd contribute to any of these options.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Oh I'm torn between Narnia and New York!! Love them both. Hmmm, why can't there be another -N- month??

Enbrethiliel said...


Sully: Thanks for voting. =) It's interesting, so far, because I thought New York in November would win, but everyone (myself included--LOL!) seems to be gravitating towards the wider range found in non-fiction.

Bat: There is apparently much to be said for the quality of fire. It's no surprise that earthly fires are the lowest-grade in creation.

I haven't read Kellmeyer in weeks--because I haven't read any Catholic blogs in weeks--but I've always liked him. Thanks for pointing me to that old post, which I missed the first time around.

Enbrethiliel said...


Carol: I know what you mean! They're all great choices.

As I told Irena, I'll probably do Narnia anyway, at the end of November, but not necessarily make it a challenge. And I guess I can find another excuse to feature non-fiction settings or New York settings. =)

Thanks for stopping by! I know that you're trying to hibernate more these days, so I appreciate it.

Paul Stilwell said...

Here's another vote for non-fiction settings.

Dante never ceases to affect me. His images always come back afresh from his efficient modesty (a modesty that only makes the horror searingly vivid) that is at the same time abundantly lyrically flowing.

I didn't think about that before, about the rounds in the frozen circle being named after those traitors. It really gives import to the seriousness of this sin.

Enbrethiliel said...


Well, unless a whole bunch of people show up to vote for New York before Saturday, it looks as if Non-Fiction November will be the winning theme! Thanks for voting, Stilwell. =)

Belfry Bat said...

Oh, part of how you missed that Kellmeyer post might be that I only found it on Dawn's blogg, and perhaps he never posted it at his own place. Actually, I don't think I've ever tried to follow his writing...

Yes, the quality of earthly fire is not well trained...