"A New Image for Geryon"
Diane Christian updates Dante and William Blake:
The license to kill in Iraq follows a license to lie. 'Spin' is a scurrilous euphemism to use here, because the game isn't words, but wounding and killing and destroying. Rumsfeld is agile with words-he tried to contain the Abu Ghraib photos by saying they were 'radioactive.' He is a perfect machiavel-ruthless, arrogant, and single-minded, swathed in rimless glasses and sober, steadfast and stern demeanor. If Dante were around he'd have a new image for Geryon, the effigy of fraud "His face was the face of a just man, so mild an aspect had it outwardly; and the rest was all a reptile's body."
Dante saw deceit as the worst human perversion, the root. His Satan is a liar who set himself equal to God and deceived mankind. Dante draws him in human shape but triple-headed. Many-headed is a better critique, I think, than reptile body. Milton too stressed Satan's smooth deceit. "The mind is its own place" his Satan says, "and in itself / Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven." Thinking can make anything so.
No. A very big lie.