Do you ever wish you were Dante? Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | User List | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration
Night Shade Message Boards » Goss, Theodora » Do you ever wish you were Dante? « Previous Next »

Author Message
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 10:30 pm:   

There are other threads I still owe responses on, so I shouldn't exactly be starting a new one, but I just had to say:

Do you ever wish you were Dante, writing the Inferno? Meaning, do you ever think about whom you would consign to the frozen pit, and under what circumstances?

For example, the thieves who stole Munch's "The Scream." I'm thinking they should have to exist for eternity in a Munch painting. The sort of thing that could happen in a Twilight Zone episode.

Kendrick sent me this excerpt describing how Munch got the idea for the painting: "As Munch described it in his journal: 'I was walking along the road with two friends--then the Sun set--all at once the sky became blood red--and I felt overcome with melancholy. I stood still and leaned against the railing, dead tired--clouds like blood and tongues of fire hung above the blue-black fjord and the city. My friends went on and I stood alone, trembling with anxiety. I felt a great, unending scream piercing through nature.'" (He didn't send me the source--a NY Times article?)

So I'm thinking, whoever stole his paintings could hear that scream for, like, eternity. (Maybe I should write horror . . .)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 11:31 pm:   

Hi Dora,

It seems to me that deciding who goes to hell--the people at Enron, Jack the Ripper, the people who make those Enzyte commercials--isn't really that much fun because they're obvious choices. What's really fun is deciding their punishment. If I remember rightly, in the stories about Sisyphus and Tantalus, you're not shown what they did to deserve their punishment. You're merely told what they did, and then shown how they're punished in gory detail.

(There's a very short story--100 words--by Neil Gaiman called "Nicholas Was...", where Santa Claus is depicted as a Sisyphus-type evil-doer forced by cave-dwelling dwarves to deliver presents to all the children of the world once a year. It's actually been published as a Christmas greeting card, believe it or not.)

As for the Munch thieves...well, I understand Poe wrote "The Cask of Amontillado" to vicariously punish some (perceived?) wrongdoing. So go ahead and write that story. Having seen your writing, I'd really like to see the result.

Jason
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Eric Marin
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 06:08 am:   

Dora,

It's fun to think of appropriate and eternal punishments for certain people. I wrote a short short recently along those lines (a fictional person, though) with a twist on a famous expression. It's a little skeletal at present, but it was fun to write. :-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Richard Parks
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 11:11 am:   

It's fun to let the Dark Side out to play every now and then. Maybe I should do that more often since, of the 3-4 stories I've written concerning Hell (actual or virtual), the main theme has been figuring out 1) why the person is there and 2) how do they get out. #2 requires a more Buddhist than Baptist approach, naturally.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 09:16 pm:   

Poor Santa Claus! How unfair. That's like making the Easter Bunny evil. Now, don't start sending me evil Easter Bunny ideas!

I agree that the fun's in the punishment. For example, we live between two universities, and have to deal with the occasional student party. But this summer students in an apartment house near us had parties every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night, plus some random nights during the week. Loud conversation (as in, between the ground floor and third-floor balcony), and loud classic rock. All. Night. Long. We could hear it through closed windows.

So I'm thinking, how about eternity at an all-night party (where dawn never comes), drinking cheap beer and listening to classic rock? After a hundred years or so of "Brown-Eyed Girl" (if that's the title--it's the only line I remember), I think anyone would go mad.

Come to think of it, an eternity of anything would essentially be hell, wouldn't it?

So, Eric, what punishment did you come up with? Or will I just have to wait for the story to be published? :-)

"The Cask of Amontillado" is brilliant. Poe was so good at tapping into the things that really make us afraid. Live burial, for one. It would be interesting to ask students in a creative writing class, particularly younger ones (high school or college age), to describe their ideas of hell. I always loved Sartre's: a middle-class living room where all you can do is talk about yourself.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 11:12 pm:   

It has been said that any conceivable heaven would be so boring as to qualify as hell. I'm not quite sure I agree with that, but if heaven was always the same...

For me, hell would be an eternity spent listening to AC/DC. Their lead singer can only sing two notes, and...well, why dwell on it?

I thought Sartre said that "Hell is other people"?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Eric Marin
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 07:53 am:   

Dora,

My Dante-esqe story is making the rounds, although the feedback is leading me to consider revising the ending. It's a 1300 word play on an old saying, so it takes all of the fun away to explain it, rather than read it. *grin* If you'd like to see it, I'll be happy to e-mail it to you.

Eric
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 10:40 pm:   

Just back from Worldcon, so I need to sleep, but I wanted to quickly write this:

When I looked at the copy of the current Locus, which has Stephen R. Donaldson on it, I couldn't help immediately thinking "Yuck!"

I read the first Thomas Covenant book when I was sixteen. Or I should say that I almost read it. I think I put it down two or three chapters after the rape scene. I don't remember much about the book, except Thomas' despair and distrust of the fantasy land he enters, and that there was a rape scene, which symbolized his resistance to that land and revenge against it for healing him when he could not stand being healed. I don't even know if I'm remembering it correctly. But I remember vividly thinking that the rape was a plot and character device, there to serve the story. And I found that so distasteful, and I have to admit so boring, that I never finished the book.

It's unfair, I know, to transfer that response to Donaldson himself, or his cover photo. But it was such a strong and immediate response.

The reason I mention it here is that I read the interview with Donaldson, and felt terribly sorry for him. He seems so troubled, particularly about his writing. He says that he doesn't enjoy writing, that he finds it a struggle. Honestly, I think that always came through for me, and was one of the reasons I never finished the book: it felt like the writer was struggling with words. I tend to be drawn to writing that has a sort of ease and joy to it. Virginia Woolf, for (a completely, and oh how completely, different) example.

Two lessons: Be prepared, as a writer, for the fact that a reader may react strongly to your story, and strongly negatively. Especially an adolescent girl.

And (this being why I included my comment on this thread), we are all perfectly capable of creating our own hells, and living in them.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming (as soon as I've had some sleep).


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 10:45 pm:   

A third lesson: Never use a character, even a peripheral one, to serve the needs of your story. Every character has his or her own story, though it may not be the one you're writing.

And finally, a fourth: If you want to write about women, for goodness' sake talk to some, sometime!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 11:08 pm:   

Quoth Dora: "I tend to be drawn to writing that has a sort of ease and joy to it. Virginia Woolf, for (a completely, and oh how completely, different) example."

What about James Joyce? There's a (most likely apocryphal) story in Stephen King's _On Writing_ where a friend pays Joyce a visit and finds him wallowing in despair. "How many words have you written today?" the friend asks. "Seven," says Joyce. "Seven? But that's good, at least for you!" "Yes," says Joyce, "but I don't know what order they go in!"

Quoth Dora: "And finally, a fourth: If you want to write about women, for goodness' sake talk to some, sometime!"

I've heard Heinlein didn't understand women either.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 06:47 pm:   

Darn. You're going to make me confess, aren't you, that I don't like Joyce, particularly? Well, it's true. I've read Portrait of the Artist, and Ulysses, and Dubliners, and his poetry, and I rather like his poetry.

I took a graduate course on Joyce, in which we went through Ulysses in detail, and I can see that he was doing interesting things stylistically. And the Victorian novel did, probably, need to be broken so we could pick up the pieces and do different things with them. So I don't have a quarrel with his style. It's his vision of human beings I have difficulty with. What is it, exactly? They seem so limited, somehow (except of course Stephen Dedalus, who is Joyce's alter ego). More limited than the human beings I know. I think that's it. But I'd have to read Joyce again to be fair in my criticism.

But there's a difference between the act of writing being difficult, and that difficulty coming through in the prose. Woolf worked hard on her writing, but what comes through is a kind of joyful ease. Joyce worked hard as well, but I don't think it shows. Some of the stories in Dubliners come across as casual, almost conversational. As though Joyce were sitting in a bar and telling a story. (Portrait seems more labored and self-conscious.)

I remember once watching Baryshnikov, the ballet dancer, on stage. He didn't seem to be doing anything spectacular. Then other ballet dancers came on, and I could see them struggling to do what he seemed to be doing so naturally. He had worked so hard that he had achieved a state of effortless grace. But it wouldn't have happened without the struggle. I think that's the mark of a master. The genre equivelent, for me, would be Samuel Delaney, who does spectacular things in prose without seeming to work at it.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 09:17 pm:   

Hi Eric!

"My Dante-esqe story is making the rounds, although the feedback is leading me to consider revising the ending. It's a 1300 word play on an old saying, so it takes all of the fun away to explain it, rather than read it. *grin* If you'd like to see it, I'll be happy to e-mail it to you."

I'd love to see it in print! Honestly, if you sent it to me now, it would sit unread for a while, because my schedule is so complicated. But if it's not accepted within a few months, feel free to send. If it is, let me know where it will appear! (And I'm wishing you much luck!)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 09:21 pm:   

Arg. I keep forgetting to answer questions.

"I thought Sartre said that 'Hell is other people'?"

He did. I'm thinking of his play "No Exit," in which three people are brought to a room, where they sit on couches and talk. It becomes perfectly obvious that they're in Hell, and although each of them denies that he or she belongs there, it also becomes perfectly obvious why. In the end . . . But hey, why spoil it? Go read the play!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Eric Marin
Posted on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 09:51 am:   

Dora,

I'll let you know where my tale finds a home. :-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Saturday, February 05, 2005 - 08:43 am:   

Winter in Boston. I understand why Dante made Hell cold! Brrr . . .
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Amal
Posted on Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - 05:08 am:   

Speaking of Dante, this is pretty amusing...

http://www.4degreez.com/misc/dante-inferno-test.mv

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Ms. Peccadillo
Posted on Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - 02:42 pm:   

Ooo, I'm in Limbo. (Uh-oh-wasn't Limbo just officially gotten rid of?) I'm a gluttonous halfway-decent heathen. ;))
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Melissa Mead
Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 06:24 pm:   

I'm finally reading The Inferno. Dante had a very scary imagination.
(says the woman who's been writing about demons for the past week...)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 06:39 pm:   

Hi Melissa!

Why have you been writing about demons?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Melissa Mead
Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 03:24 am:   

Hi!
I came up with this story for The First Line about a character who's half demon, half seraph. He was such fun to write about I've just kept coming up with stories about him.

The scary thing is that while these stories have been way darker and more violent than typical for me, people have said they like them. (They've also admitted that while my character is bloodthirsty and, well, demonic, he's also sweet. Go figure. ;))

Dante's scarier, though. The bit about cheering on ripping apart a soul who's already in torment-that gave me chills.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 05:17 am:   

One of my students mentioned Dante recently, the episode where a demon is chewing on someone's head. (The ghouls in "Pickman's Model" do the same thing.) Yeah, he's pretty gruesome!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 10:47 am:   

On the subject of the spambot that's spewing random words all over this board, how about a tenth circle of hell just for spammers and telemarketers? Each of these damned souls would be imprisoned in a doorless, windowless cell with nothing but a radio in the ceiling (which they can't reach, let alone turn off) that broadcasts nothing but commercials of a particularly annoying kind?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Melissa Mead
Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 02:16 pm:   

With more spam projected on the walls...

Ew-I don't think I've gotten to the head-chewing bit yet. That or I've blocked it out. ;)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 04:15 pm:   

On the subject of the spambot that's spewing random words all over this board, how about a tenth circle of hell just for spammers and telemarketers? Each of these damned souls would be imprisoned in a doorless, windowless cell with nothing but a radio in the ceiling (which they can't reach, let alone turn off) that broadcasts nothing but commercials of a particularly annoying kind?

Wow. I would rather have a demon chew on my head.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 04:19 pm:   

OK, maybe not. Depends on the commercials.

What about a broadcast of nothing but late twentieth-century boy-bands?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 10:27 pm:   

"What about a broadcast of nothing but late twentieth-century boy-bands?"

Now who would that punishment be reserved for, I wonder?

For lawyers, how about being chained to a rock and having their heart eaten out by a vulture? (Except lawyers have no hearts, and vultures would leave them alone out of professional courtesy!)

Jason

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Theodora Goss
Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 05:23 am:   

I envision the boy-band punishment as a general one for any sort of annoyingness. I think it could have broad applicability.

Add Your Message Here
Post:
Username: Posting Information:
This is a private posting area. Only registered users and moderators may post messages here.
Password:
Options: Enable HTML code in message
Automatically activate URLs in message
Action:

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | User List | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration