Design a site like this with
Get started

Open-Mic Night at Ohio University’s Baker Center — 30 September 2022

Bruce Dalzell, emcee

Jeric Herstine

Jeric Herstine

Bernhard Debatin

Bernhard Debatin

Rylee Bapst

Rylee Bapst

Rylee Bapst

Bruce Dalzell, emcee





Jeric Herstine







Corona Sequester

Bernhard Debatin Supports Ukraine

Rylee Bapst TikTok

Rylee Bapst YouTube

Bruce Dalzell’s favorite angry Canadian singer-songwriter

Edge of Desire- John Mayer with harmonica solo

The Joker- Steve Miller Band with guitar solo

Neon live performance- Rylee Bapst (John Mayer cover)

Spotify and Apple music “226” by Rylee Bapst. Its good i promise

♬ original sound – Rylee Bapst
Chapter 14: The Desert with Falling Flames

Because of Dante’s love of Florence, he gathered up the leaves that had been torn from the bush that was the soul of the anonymous Florentine, and he left them by the bush.

Dante and Virgil continued walking, and they reached the third part of Circle 7. Already they had seen the river of boiling blood and the wood of the suicides. Now they came to a desert of burning sand. Nothing grew here, and nothing could ever grow here. Nothing was in this infertile desert but burning-hot sand and the flakes of fire that rained continuously down on the suffering sinners.
The sinners were of three kinds. Some sinners lay on their backs, facing upward. Other sinners were hunched over looking at something hanging from their necks. Yet other sinners were continuously running. 

The greatest number of sinners belonged to the groups who were continuously running, but the loudest sinners were those who lay on their backs because they were most exposed to the falling flakes of flame and so they suffered the most.

The pain felt here came from two places: above and below. The flames fell from above, but the sand below was so hot that it burned all the sinners where they touched it. 

Almost everywhere sinners were constantly moving their hands to put out the flames that fell on them. First on one side and then on the other side, flames fell. First on one side and then on the other side, hands moved to put out the flames. The dance of the hands was almost universal. Just one sinner did not deign to put out the flames.

Dante asked Virgil, “Who is the sinner who ignores the flames? Although he could move his hands to put them out, he does not.”

The sinner heard Dante and replied for Virgil: “I am the same here in Hell as I was while I was alive. Jupiter killed me because I blasphemed. I was one of the seven who attacked Thebes, and I challenged any of the gods, including Jupiter, to attempt to withstand me. Jupiter heard my boast and my challenge, and he killed me with a thunderbolt.”

Virgil then said to the sinner, “Capaneus, yes, you blasphemed against your god, and so you are punished here. Your sullenness and pride make the pain you feel even worse because they stop you from brushing the flames away from your body.”

Virgil turned to Dante and said, “As Capaneus has said, he was one of the seven kings who attacked Thebes. His blasphemy has sentenced him here, and here he is still blaspheming.”

Virgil thought, The blasphemers, sodomites, and greedy moneylenders are punished in this scorching desert. All of these sinners have committed sins in which they are violent against God or God’s gifts. All of these sinners have committed sins in which they either take something that should be fertile and make it infertile or take something that should be infertile and make it fertile. These sinners are on a sandy, infertile desert on which fire rains down and on which nothing can grow.
The blasphemers ought to have loved God, but they cursed God instead. The love of God ought to be fertile and result in good things, but the blasphemers cursed something that ought to be regarded as valuable. Now they lie in the burning, infertile desert and face upward, looking toward that which they cursed. Of course, when they open their mouths to curse God, flakes of fire fall into their mouths.

In contrast, the greedy moneylenders took something that ought to be infertile and made it fertile. The Bible, which Dante has studied, is against lending money at interest to relatives or to poor people, but the greedy moneylenders lent money at interest when they ought not to. The greedy moneylenders are hunched over, looking at the moneybags that hang from their neck.

Finally, the sodomites took something that ought to be fertile and made it infertile. Instead of having sex of a kind that results in children, they had sex of a kind that can never result in children. For this sin, they run continuously in groups with other sodomites. 

All of these groups are violent against God. God is not a physical person (except in the case of the Incarnation), so someone may ask, How can a sinner be violent against God?

Blasphemers are violent against God directly. They curse God directly. The greedy moneylenders and the sodomites are violent against God indirectly. The greedy moneylenders take advantage of the poor, although God has several commandments saying to take care of the poor, not harm them. The sodomites are against God in that they are going against the commandment to “Be fruitful and multiply.” 

Virgil said to Dante, “Now let us continue our journey. The wood lines the desert. Stay in the wood and do not set foot on the burning sand.”
They walked on until they reached a stream of reddish water. This was a branch from the river of boiling blood. Its bed and banks were made of stone, and it crossed the burning, infertile desert.

“This stream is our way across the burning desert,” Virgil said to Dante. “Above it, the falling flakes of flame are put out. This stream is the most remarkable sight you have yet seen in Hell.”

Intrigued by Virgil, Dante asked him to explain more about the stream. 

“In the Mediterranean is an island called Crete,” Virgil said, “and on that island is the place where Rhea hid Jupiter, her son, from his father, Saturn, a monster who usually devoured his children. Whenever the young Jupiter cried, Rhea ordered her servants to shout loudly to conceal Jupiter’s presence from his cannibalistic father. 

“A statue of an old man is located on Crete. The Old Man of Crete is made of many kinds of materials, which grow less in quality descending from the head to the feet. The Old Man’s head is made of gold, his arms and shoulders and chest are made of silver, the rest of his torso is made of brass, and his legs and one foot are made of iron. His other foot — the right one — is made of baked clay.”
Virgil thought, And so it is with the ages of man. At first there was a golden age, which was followed by a silver age, which was followed by other ages that became successively more degraded.

Virgil continued, “The Old Man of Crete shows his back to the Egyptian seaport Damietta, symbol of the pagan world. The Old Man of Crete faces Rome, home of the Pope and symbol of the Christian world.

“Except for the golden head, the statue is flawed. The eyes of the statue drip tears. The tears flow to the ground and become the streams and rivers and pools of the Inferno. These are those streams and rivers and pools:

“The Acheron, over which Charon ferries the souls of the dead.

“The Styx, a marsh in which the angry and the sullen and the slothful are punished.

“The Phlegethon, a name which means fiery.

“The Cocytus, which you will later see for yourself.”

Dante asked, “You did not mention the Lethe, and when will I see the Phlegethon?”

Virgil replied, “You have already seen the Phlegethon, which was the river of boiling blood in which the physically violent were punished. 

“You will see the Lethe later, but not in Hell. It is in a place where those who have purged themselves of sin gather to wash.

“Now it is time to move on. Stay by me, and stay by the stream. Above the stream the flakes of falling flames are put out.”

Chapter 15: Brunetto Latini

As Dante and Virgil continued walk
ing, Dante observed the burning desert. He saw that the stone bank of the river was like a wall built in a country below sea level to keep sea water out of a field so that it could be used to grow crops. In that case, the walls make the field fertile rather than infertile. Here in the burning desert, of course, the wall is unable to make the burning desert fertile.

Virgil and Dante had left the wood of the suicides far behind, and now one of the groups of running sinners were coming towards them.

These are some of the sodomites, Virgil thought. They are men who sought sex with other men. They took something that ought to be fertile and made it infertile.

The men looked at Dante the way that some men will look at other men at night, and one of the sodomites recognized Dante and touched the hem of his clothing and shouted, “This is a marvel!”

Dante looked closely at the burned features of the sodomite, recognized him as a man he had known and still respected, and said, “Is this really you here, Sir?”
This is Brunetto Latini, Virgil thought. This sodomite was famous for his writings, including the Trésor, which recounted much encyclopedic knowledge of his day. After the Battle of Montaperti in 1260, he was exiled from Florence. In addition to being a scholar, he was a Guelf.

You have something to learn here, Dante. You do not have homosexual feelings, yet you have something to learn from Brunetto Latini. He was a scholar, but he was very concerned with becoming famous through his writing. You, Dante, need to be more concerned with telling the truth in your writing than with becoming famous through your writing.

You, Dante, are in the Inferno to learn things that will keep you out of the Inferno. What you need to learn here is to not take something that should be fertile and make it infertile. This, of course, is what the sodomites do. No amount of homosexual intercourse will result in the birth of a baby from that union.
Souls in the Inferno know the future, and so I know that you will later be engaged in what should be a fertile act: the writing of The Divine Comedy. To make that work fertile, you must tell the truth in it. What could make the act of writing The Divine Comedy infertile? If you write in order to become famous instead of writing in order to say the truth, The Divine Comedy will not be the fertile work of art that it could and should be.

Brunetto said to Dante, “If it is OK with you, I would like to talk to you for a while, while I let the rest of my group run on ahead.”

Dante replied, “I would like that. Please stay a while and talk to me, as long as my companion here does not mind.”

“I will, then,” Brunetto said, “but I must keep on running beside you. Any of my group who stops for even a moment is condemned to lie on the burning sand for a hundred years, and he is unable to brush the burning flakes of fire from his body during that time.”

Dante continued walking, but he kept his head low to show respect to his friend. Of course, he did not dare to step onto the burning sand.

“You are still alive, so why are you here?” Brunetto asked. “You obviously have an impressive destiny. Who is your guide?”

“In the living world, I lost my way,” Dante said. “I have been trying to find my way to the right path, and yesterday this soul appeared to serve as my guide. This path through Hell is actually the right path to lead me to the path I ought to be on.”

Way to go, Dante, Virgil thought. You no longer think that your great genius is responsible for your being here, although Brunetto seems to think that. Instead, you realize that you so messed up your life that this journey is necessary to save your soul.

“Dante, you are gifted,” Brunetto said. “You are going to be famous. Your name will be in lights. I saw that clearly when I was alive, and if I had not died when I did, I would have continued to encourage you.

“But not everyone feels about you the way that I do. Some people are your enemies. You will do good deeds, but those people will not recognize them. They will make your life hard. Do not allow them to keep you from your destiny and from the fame that ought to be yours.”

“I wish that you were still alive,” Dante replied. “When you were alive, you taught me how people can make themselves eternal.”

Be careful, Dante, Virgil thought. You say that Brunetto taught you how people can make themselves eternal. That is a reference to becoming famous on Earth through writing.

Yet Brunetto is in Hell for all eternity. Brunetto did not teach you about the right kind of “eternal.” Brunetto was all about gaining eternal fame on Earth, not eternal life in Heaven. 
If you, Dante, were to concentrate on becoming famous rather than telling the truth in The Divine Comedy, you may end up like Brunetto, with fame that is not long lasting on Earth and with punishment that is eternal in the Inferno.
If you, Dante, were to concentrate on becoming famous rather than telling the truth in The Divine Comedy, you might not put Popes in Hell, but instead flatter them so that you could be their guests and drop their names to other people.
If you, Dante, were to concentrate on becoming famous rather than telling the truth in The Divine Comedy, you might not put any of your friends in your Inferno, but instead you might put only your enemies in your Inferno.
Dante continued talking to Brunetto, “I will write down your prophecy about the enemies who will want to hurt me. A Heavenly lady will be able to make clearer to me all that you have said. I have heard other prophecies that she can also interpret.”

Virgil, pleased that Dante had listened carefully to what had been said to him, repeated a proverb to Dante, “He listens well who notes well what he hears.”
Dante then asked Brunetto about some of the other sinners with him. 

Brunetto replied that many clerics and many men of letters were in his group. By name he mentioned Francesco d’Accorso, a lawyer from Florence who also had taught law at the University of Bologna, and Andrea de’ Mozzi, who from 1287 to 1295 had been the Bishop of Florence.

Then Brunetto said, “I would like to stay and talk with you longer, but I cannot. The dust rising from the desert over there shows that a new group of sinners is arriving, and I must not mingle with them.

“I do ask of you one thing: Remember my Trésor. On it my fame rests.”
Then Brunetto, a naked sinner, raced away the way a naked runner at Verona would compete in a race. He ran quickly, as if he would take the first prize.
I hope that you, Dante, have learned what you ought to have learned, Virgil thought. Brunetto truly has a keen interest in fame. However, compromising your artistic vision for fame is a sin. If you don’t tell the truth in your art, your art will not live on and it will not positively affect other people.

Ironically, if you do tell the truth in your art, it can live on and positively affect other people, and your fame will be greater than if you had compromised your artistic vision. You, Dante, may be remembered as one of the greatest poets who ever lived. At best, Brunetto will be a footnote in future scholarly volumes. If you achieve your destiny, Dante, and if you resist writing simply in order to be famous, anyone who reads the Trésor hundreds of years from now will read it only in the hope that he or she will learn more about you, Dante.

Books should be fertile; books written only to make the writer famous are infertile. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: