A great essay from Crisis Magazine by an author who did a wonderful translation of The Divine Comedy, though my (being old school) favorite is by Longfellow.
“People who read Dante for the first time may well be surprised that of the two great ways to embrace what is evil—as opposed to loving what is good but in an evil way—the poet says that fraud is worse than violence. This is because violence suppresses or negates what separates man from the beasts, while fraud perverts it. The former is wild and bestial. The latter is calculated and demonic. Hence the allegorical guardian of the rings of violence is the Minotaur, seething with animal rage, while the guardian of the rings of fraud—the Malebolge, “Pouches of Evil”—is the monster Geryon, who has the visage of an honest man, but whose animal body is particolored in knots and whorls, while his scorpion tail flicks about, ready to sting you from behind.
“No doubt Dante was thinking of the words of Jesus, which he cited in an earlier scene, that Satan was “a murderer from the beginning,” and “a liar, and the father of lies.” Murder is based upon a falsehood, that the man you kill is not your brother; and lies are murderous, because they reduce their victims to objects to be manipulated, to be harmed, or to be killed. Now there are not many ways to be a glutton. And while there are many more ways to do savage wrong to yourself or your fellow man, there are, I think, even more ways to be a liar. That is because the human mind is meant to search through the whole created order, with all our many faculties of patient observation, memory, comparison, listening, arrangement of questions, deduction, judgment, openness to what is revealed from above, and so forth, and any deliberate and persistent perversion of one of these faculties makes you a hardened liar.
“I do not mean that people who are not liars will always see the truth and say it. We do not often perceive truth in a flash of comprehension. Knowledge comes to us first through the senses, as Thomas Aquinas says, and then we must sift through our sensory experiences, and engage in the slow and plodding work of discursive reason. Habit and passion also cloud what we see. People are very seldom good judges of their own cases. They forget their faults and magnify those of the enemy; they see what they wish to see, and passion confirms it. The last thing we want to encourage when we are out to find the truth is the expression of powerful passion among the interested parties. Passion there will be, and to spare. As for habit, it is what Aristotle called our second nature, and it is impossible to be human without it. Habit establishes or confirms our inclinations, the way we lean. It is the bias in the ball in lawn bowling, the unequal weight built into the ball to lend it a natural tendency to curve toward the heavier side.
“All this means that it is not easy for us to arrive at the truth in any controversy, so we need cool heads, those who are not party to the affair, who are dispassionate, disinterested in the true sense of the word (they have no personal, political, or financial interest or stake in it), and deliberate (which may appear to the contestants as sluggishness, dullness, or stupidity). The best judges are those who remember that human beings exaggerate, ignore, forget, imagine, proceed from false premises, and leap to false conclusions, even when they are not lying outright; that human beings are least to be trusted when they protest loudly about their bad feelings; that most (not all, but most) human affairs are muddles; and that whatever we do see, we see only in part, and seldom with fine accuracy.
“The liar, then, tries to persuade you of something that is not true, but he also labors to make it more difficult for you ever to see the truth. It is not just that he gives you wrong information. He tends to corrupt all those mental faculties that God has given us for searching out the truth. So, for example, the flatterer not only tells you pleasant things about yourself that are exaggerated or flat-out falsehoods. He makes it harder for you to turn a dispassionate eye upon yourself. The hypocrite not only engages in play-acting the part of a just or saintly man; he helps to establish hypocrisy as a norm, so that everyone comes up on the stage to mug and pose. The confidence man destroys confidence itself, so that his victim may end by trusting no one.
“And then we have the great liar of our time, the sower of discord.
“I refer to two of Dante’s examples here. Achitophel stoked the fire of hatred in Absalom against his father, David, because if Absalom were to be king, it would be so much the better for Achitophel. The poet and soldier Bertran de Born stoked the fire of ambition in the English prince Henry against his father, Henry II, because Bertran was itching for action in the field. The sower of discord profits by the enmity and the disorder. Dante therefore punishes them with perhaps his finest example of contropasso, retribution that is emblematic of the crime: the sower of discord is severed in the body. Bertran de Born, worst of them all, carries his severed head in his hand, like a lantern.
“Advertisers know that “sex sells.” Enmity also sells. Newspapers at their best have had but an uneasy relationship to truth, but now that they must compete against social media and the internet, all bets are off, and so likewise for those newer engines, too. Enmity sells. Enmity, not amity, commands attention. Hatred is immediately interesting. Placid forbearance is not. Rash judgment is quick and flagrant. Patient sifting is slow and pallid.”
Retrieved July 6, 2020 from https://www.crisismagazine.com/2020/cleaving-the-body
Be well everyone, and pray the old school rosary in the old school way, see https://catholiceye.wordpress.com//?s=15+decade+rosary&search=Go