Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Excusions through Hell...

Woodcut Illustration by Gustav Doré
The Divine Comedy: The Inferno: Canto 10
(Borrowed from Wikipedia)

On Lost Nomad's blog, in response to a post on Korea and the upcoming World Cup, I left the following remark on my experience living in Korea when it was hosting the previous World Cup:

At the last World Cup, a Korean colleague at Hanshin University asked me what it was like being a foreigner in Korea during the World Cup.

I looked around at the many Red Devil Korean fans decked out with flame-red horns and flame-red shirts — the shirts often even sporting Dogebi-Demon designs — and I replied: "I feel like I'm in Hell!"

Hell, yes, but I didn't suffer much. I rather enjoyed it, as did my two little half-Korean kids, who were running around in the red-devil shirts singing "Oh, piss on gorilla!"

Yeah, I know that "오 필승 코리아!" ("Oh, Pilseung Korea!") means something like "Oh, victory to Korea!", but it sure as hell sounded to me like pissing on gorillas.

A sure-fire way to piss them off, by the way, and not something that you'd want to do to creatures as powerful as gorillas, or you might end up in a level of Hell like the one experienced by this guy in a dream:

On November 22, 1998... I was catapulted out of my bed into the very pit of hell. My point of arrival was a cell that was approximately fifteen feet high by ten feet wide with a fifteen-foot depth...

I was not alone in this cell. I saw two enormous beasts, unlike anything I had ever seen before .... entirely evil, and gazing at me with pure, unrestrained hatred, which completely paralyzed me with fear....

The creatures weren't animals, but they weren't human, either. Each giant beast resembled a reptile in appearance, but took on human form. Their arms and legs were unequal in length, out of proportion -- without symmetry....

Two more creatures came into the cell, and I had the feeling that these four beings had been "assigned" to me. I felt as though I was being "sized up" and that my torment would be their amusement....

One of the creatures picked me up. The strength of the beast was amazing .... approximately one thousand times greater than a man.... Then the beast threw me against the wall. I crumbled onto the floor .... as though every bone in my body had been broken...

The second beast, with its razor-like claws and sharp protruding fins, then grabbed me from behind in a bear hug. As it pressed me into its chest, its sharp fins pierced my back.... He then reached around and plunged his claws into my chest and ripped them outward....

Rather worse than raging gorillas, actually. As for the fellow who says that he experienced this torment, his name is Bill Wiese, and he has detailed the experience in a book, 23 Minutes in Hell, for which he'll surely get his 15 minutes of fame.

A man with a far less painful excursion to Hell is none other than the hero of yesterday's blog entry, Joseph Michael Gandy. We find his story in Christopher Woodward's Guardian article, "Let there be light" posted on April 1 (no foolin'), 2006. Gandy, who also dreamt of hell, encountered a rather different place than Wiese describes, and a far more sophisticated devil:

In his dream he was standing on a staircase, watching a man sweet talk a girl at a window. Gandy was in love with the girl. Suddenly, a stranger took his arm. You must take her by force, he whispered; I am your friend, and will show you how. The man took him to palaces and dinners, and gave him presents. You are the Devil, Gandy exclaimed. He was seized, and woke in Hell. It was a city manufacturing luxuries in glass and gold, where "heavy cranes ... lift Foreign Goods from Ships". Hell was modern London.

Gandy escaped from "a low dungeon" by climbing a mile towards the light while the Devil drank with "lawyers, aldermen, &c". Outside was a mountain of empty wine bottles. Gandy made a sudden run up the slope, but the clatter of bottles alerted Satan. "I find you are like the rest of the world," he sneered: Ungrateful. But in a flicker of the eye, he relented and conjured up a circle of wine bottles to dance in the air around him: "Take a bottle of whatever you please and we will make it up again." Gandy took a bottle and hit the Devil. Pieces of glass stuck in his bald head. He hit him again, and escaped into the light.

Gandy's later painting of Pandemonium, which we saw in yesterday's entry, doesn't look much like London, but both the painting and this dream suggest a place far more refined than Wiese's vision.

I suppose that Gandy, Wiese, and I all three experienced a hell appropriate to our sins.

As Woodward tells us, Gandy interpreted his own dream:

What was the moral? Do not accept favours from the rich, he concluded. If you cannot repay them pound for pound, they will "play with the temper of a grateful mind ... debauch it, and make you their slave."
Gandy was a prototype of the Romantic genius, the one needing but spurning patrons, and his dream shows him struggling with his inner demons -- a cliché vividly experienced.

But not quite as vivid as Wiese's vision. I haven't read this man's book, so I don't know what, specifically, his punishment was for, but I suppose that I should note that he was a California realtor.

As for me and my most real of these three unreal hellish experiences, I was punished for the sin of being from a country that has never taken the truly global World Cup seriously and that insists on calling its annual, national baseball playoff between the American League and the National League by the quaint title of World Series.

As Koreans have often reminded me...

Labels: , , ,


At 6:03 PM, Blogger jacen said...

you are the "blurry car" obsessed guy, right?


At 6:12 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I pretend to be.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Wonderdog said...

I once thought I was in hell but it turned out to be merely a Saturday afternoon at Cosco.

At 4:43 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Costco makes a helluva good chicken bake.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Wonderdog said...

Meant Costco of course and not "Cosco".

My wife will attest to my hatred for the place, especially on a crowded Saturday. And that's even excluding concrete penises.

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, let's keep those things abstract...

Anyway, that guy in the link isn't me, just in case people were wondering.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home