Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dante's Discotheque: The Driver's Road Map to the Inferno

Growing up I always watched my mother make mix tapes for others, and for herself, whenever she had something to say that was a little more complex than a conversation could handle. She would sit in front of the stereo with huge headphones on and drink scotch. Every now and then she would snag the headphone jack out of the receiver and the house would be filled with the suddenness of sound. When I was young, it seemed to me that she was always crying when the music played.

An adult now, I also find that music is sometimes the best way to express an idea or tell a story; but I do things a little differently than mum. I like the mental challenge of retelling a story - quite literally, a story - as accurately as I can, with music. The more in-depth I get, the more fun I have. It's like my brain is a greyhound and I get to let it out for a real good, hard run. Sure, it's the same scenery as before; that's just running around in circles, after all. But it feels good to let it run.

So, here is the tracklist and my own cliff's notes on the Inferno.

Thanks for the hobby, mom.


1. David Julyan (The Prestige): The Turn – No, Not Today

2. Sarah McLachlan: Black (William Orbit Mix)


3. VNV Nation: Descent


4. Michael Andrews (Donnie Darko): Manipulated Living

5. The Smashing Pumpkins: Cherub Rock


6. Howard Shore (LOTR: The Return of the King): Twilight and Shadow

7. Loreena McKennitt: Dante’s Prayer


8. Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End): Calypso

9. Lacuna Coil: Entwined


10. Howard Shore (Se7en): Portrait of John Doe

11. A Perfect Circle: The Hollow


12. Javier Navarrete (Pan’s Labyrinth): Deep Forest

13. Nine Inch Nails: Head Like a Hole

14. Korn: No Way


15. Steve Baker/Carmen Dave (Donnie Darko): For Whom the Bell Tolls

16. Radiohead: Pyramid Song


17. Hans Zimmer/James Howard (The Dark Knight): A Little Push

18. Rush: Faithless


19. Clint Mansell (Moon): Are You Receiving

20. Billie Holiday: Strange Fruit

21. A Perfect Circle: The Outsider

22. Nine Inch Nails: Closer


23. Joseph LoDuca (Brotherhood of the Wolf): The Den of the Beast/Mani’s Pyre

24. Depeche Mode: Dream On

25. A Perfect Circle: The Package

26. Genesis: Jesus He Knows Me

27. The Moody Blues: Gypsy

28. Alabama 3: Yellow Rose

29. Tool: Grudge

30. Radiohead: Idioteque

31. David Bowie: Telling Lies

32. Marilyn Manson: Target Audience

33. Tom Waits: Diamonds and Gold


34. Koh Ohtani (Shadow of the Colossus): Sign of the Colossus


35. VNV Nation: Colours of Rain

36. Linkin Park: The Little Things Give You Away


37. Linkin Park: What I’ve Done


38. Vangelis (Blade Runner): Fading Away

Canto I: The Dark Wood of Error (Dante loses his way and realizes he has strayed from God’s path and into the dark woods of worldliness. He finds temporary respite on the mount of joy, but is driven away from it and is harried by the beasts of man’s fall – the leopard of malice and fraud, the lion of violence and ambition, and the she-wolf of incontinence. Here also, he meets Virgil; a fellow poet and Dante’s symbol of reason.)

Canto II: The Descent (Dante and Virgil walk and Dante experiences a moment of doubt and despair. Virgil explains to Dante that he is being watched over by a power greater than any other and that his lack of confidence is akin to doubting God’s will. They discuss hell and the nature of sin and redemption.)

Canto III

The Vestibule of Hell: The Opportunists (Also, children and neutral angels who did not take part in the war for heaven before the angel Lucifer’s fall. The souls who were neither virtuous nor evil in life chase after their own illusions of success or reward through muck and clouds of stinging insects which prick them and make them bleed from infected sores.)

Canto IV

Circle 1, Limbo: The Virtuous Pagans (The home of Virgil and other great minds of antiquity rest here where the only torment they encounter is the lack of God’s grace. Having been born before the coming of Christ, and never having been offered the grace of God’s light, they have lead the best lives they could but cannot enter heaven on a technicality.)

Canto V

Circle 2: The Carnal (The souls of sinners who rejected or neglected their responsibilities to loved ones or country in favor of love are caught in an eternal windstorm wherein they are bruised and constantly whipped near to, and away from, their equally tormented lovers.)

Canto VI

Circle 3: The Gluttonous (The undying souls of those who used their gifts and living power to overindulge themselves in products while they lived are feasted upon in a freezing wasteland of putrid slush. Cerberus guards their bloated corpses and gnaws upon their bodies as they glutted themselves upon food or goods in life.)

Canto VII

Circle 4: The Hoarders and Wasters (The souls of those who lacked all moderation in life push and pull a great boulder back and forth between them in a great tug-of-war battle to avoid being crushed. There is no rest from this complete and pointless waste of time for them.)

Circle 5: The Wrathful and Sullen (Styx lay here and in it toil the bodies of the wrathful, who tear each other to pieces only to be reborn again from the stinking slime. Beneath the surface of the black water float the sullen, who refused to see hope in life and thus never really lived. They weep and wait for the end of time to come.)

Canto VIII

The Ferry on the River Styx, and the city of Dis (Virgil calls the Ferryman of Styx, Phlegyas, who was once a king and the bloodthirsty and wrathful son of Mars; and the two see Hell proper and the great walls of the city of Dis. Dante looks down into the waters of the river and recognizes various figures from history and his homeland of Italy. Within the walls rests Circle 6, and all of lower hell spreads out below it like a great, stepped funnel - or inverted pyramid – with Satan entrenched in ice at the central and lowest point.)

Canto IX-XI

Circle 6: The Heretics (Those who insisted that there was no eternal life within God’s grace are housed here in a lake of boiling water, entombed in caskets set aflame to the degree of their defiance of God’s gift of everlasting life.)

Canto XII- XVII (Sins of the Lion)

Circle 7, Round 1: The Violent Against Neighbors (Murderers and war-makers… submersed in a sea of the boiling blood of their victims.)

Circle 7, Round 2: The Violent Against Self (Suicides… forever imprisoned in thorny trees whose limbs and leaves bleed as harpies feast on their branches. They can speak as long as the blood flows, and their numbers stretch all through the seventh circle of hell.)

Circle 7, Round 3: The Violent Against God and Nature (Blasphemers and sodomites… staked out or left helpless on a vast plain of burning sand, the sinners are assailed by a constant rain of fire from the sky. )

Canto XVIII-XXX (Sins of the Leopard)

Each Bolgia circles in on itself like a perverted Mandela, or amphitheatre seating, and each trench in the reeking earth has its own fitting satire of a torment for the souls within. When Virgil and Dante peek over the shoulder of the first Bolgia, they can see down onto the horrors of every lower ridge and it overwhelms Dante at first, for there is no easy way down but through the entirety of the 8th circle of hell.

Circle 8, Bolgia 1: Seducers and Panderers (Driven in circles by horned demons who prod and whip them.)

Circle 8, Bolgia 2: Flatterers (Wallowing in their own excrement.)

Circle 8, Bolgia 3: Simoniacs (Those who exchanged ecclesiastical favors for gold in life are suspended head-first in rocky holes while the soles of their feet are burned.)

Circle 8, Bolgia 4: Fortune tellers and Diviners (Their heads turned backward on their bodies so they only see that which is behind them.)

Circle 8, Bolgia 5: Grafters (Completely submerged in clinging pitch.)

Circle 8, Bolgia 6: Hypocrites (Weighted by lead robes covered in gilt.)

Circle 8, Bolgia 7: Thieves (Forever stealing each others’ bodies as they are evicted by demons who use their forms for visits to Earth.)

Circle 8, Bolgia 8: Evil Counselors (Consumed by great flames so they cannot be seen or heard.)

Circle 8, Bolgia 9: Sowers of Discord (Limbless, headless, bodily bifurcated, or otherwise split from themselves.) *note: The most famous woodcut from the Inferno is from this level; that of a man standing on a ledge holding his own head at arms’ length in order to see.

Circle 8, Bolgia 10: Counterfeiters, Alchemists, False Witnesses (Afflicted by sensory overload and diseases of the body and mind, some to the point of madness.)

Canto XXXI, The Central Pit of Malebolge

The Giants of legend, decedents of the ancient Gods, are guardians and prisoners of the earth from which they were born long before the coming of Christ. Their nature, not their deeds, place them as gatekeepers of the innermost circle of hell.

Canto XXXII, Cocytus

Cold and calm is the central chamber of hell; and those within it. The quiet is disturbed only by the crystalline sobs of the damned submerged in the frozen lake at the center of hell. Those who betrayed their kin are frozen to the neck; those who betrayed their country are submerged to the eyes; and those who betrayed benefactors who were not even beholden to them, but gave aid none the less, are entirely encased in ice and cannot express their sorrow – even with tears. Satan himself sits at the center of the lake, and his great wings beat the still and frigid air. He has three faces, and his jaws are the fourth and final round of the 9th circle. In them, he rends the bodies of three sinners: Brutus, Cassius, and Judas – the treacherous to their masters.

Circle 9, Round 1: Caina (The Treacherous to Kin… )

Circle 9, Round 2: Antenora (The Treacherous to Country… )

Circle 9, Round 3: Ptolomea (The Treacherous to Guests and Hosts… )

Circle 9, Round 4: Judecca (The Treacherous to Their Masters… )

The Center: Satan

Dante and Virgil climb onto Satan’s fur and through the great floor of hell where they find themselves passing upward, reversed and upside-down, into the world above hell; where Satan’s haunches and hoofed feet jut up through the rock in an almost comical fashion. They pass over the river Lethe, where all things are forgotten, and stand innocent again to gaze up at the stars.

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