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Netherworld Dreams

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Divine Intervention, Unhallowed Inspiration

Admittedly, drawing from The Divine Comedy and more specifically The Inferno seems rather brassy. Dante’s work is anything but comedic given the very serious subject matter concerning hell and the graphic depictions thereof. There is the question: why expose children to the haunting aspects of the nine circles of the underworld? As depicted by the Italian poet and crafted by him around 700 years ago during a dark period in Western history, there is no doubt thatThe Inferno embodies mature content according to the standards in this decade. The thought of children reading a book, nonetheless a children’s book, that extracts from Dante will invariably raise some eyebrows. Okay, that is fine.

There is no sense in skirting around the issues that Dante was alluding to during his time as they are still very relevant today. Outside of the more stirring or visceral elements of The Inferno, the work is deeply committed to exploring the concept of “ultimate justice.” Then there is the entire theological debate concerning hell and the afterlife itself, and the big question puzzled by many; and that is, why would a loving God create a place of inimitable suffering? Naturally,Netherworld Dreams does not go as deep as Dante’s work. However, as the author of this work I will be unapologetic in as far as being derivative, satiric, but also celebratory, as the literary and historic importance of The Inferno cannot be understated. At the same time, my intent is to “reduce” from The Inferno in a way that is understandable and entertaining for a younger audience.

What I find to be enigmatic about The Divine Comedy is that it is written in such a formidable way as to feel as though it is a part of the collective conscience. It remains timeless, to use a cliche term, because it creates a visualization of hell in a way that is extremely powerful, not to mention the writing itself is masterful. Keep in mind that Dante’s work is and was a comedy not because it is funny. His work is far from that and it is not a comedy in today’s sense. Rather, it is a “comedy” because it is not a “tragedy.” So what does that mean? Well, in Dante’s day works were divided into (1) tragedy for serious subject matter, high-brow literature, written in the formal language, and (2) comedy for what is lower-brow literature written in the common language or vernacular. Yes, Dante wrote something as serious as hell – no pun intended – as low-brow literature in the Italian vernacular so as to appeal to a general audience during the 14th century. The Inferno is as close to “pop-culture writing” from the medieval period as it gets. The zeitgeist of Dante’s time absorbed The Divine Comedy, and pop-culture as a “thing” today, in part, defines the present spirit and mood of the times we live in of which Dante’s hell has remained well intact in our psyche.

Sin also greatly underlies what is expressed throughout The Inferno. Whether you want to call it immorality or be moreCatholic about it and call it sin, the fact is that both young and old we all commit error – we all transgress. And so, another age-old question that societies have dealt with over the ages is: how do we edify people spiritually in terms of just retribution for wrongful action? We have become more secularized over time as seen by public education having set out to morally inculcate the youth, among our religious institutions on the non-secular side of things having done the same for much longer. The mix at the present will appear as a stark contrast to what were the practices of Dante’s time, and there is no orthodoxy nor a monolithic standard surrounding the topic at hand, which were once the exclusive province of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. This is where I believe, today, that literature can still be a powerful tool, especially in the area of children’s or juvenile books.

But, moreover, The Inferno is such an interesting piece of literature all by itself. Some even go so far as to believe it is prophetic or transcendent in some fashion. For me, Dante’s work is so abundant that it invites intellectual and literary inquiry for all audiences.

Nuclear Families: An Excerpt

On jstJSH

 

This is the start of a scene from the play I'm writing at the moment. I thought I'd share it with you guys because I'm really proud of it and I'd love some feedback. I think the characters are pretty self-explanatory for this scene, there isn't much else about them you really need to know. Please leave a comment telling me what you think about it.

Scene 5

JOHN is plating up dinners. MABEL and KRISTIE are chatting quietly, LUCAS is on the phone. Enter MARTINE, LUCY and CASSIUS

LUCAS

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