Hell, Mulkirigala painting
This is a poem. It may seem kinda long because poems cheat with the spacing, but it’s really not. I was reading Galileo on Dante’s Inferno, then bits of Dante’s inferno, then finally Wikipedia, which was a level I could finally stomach. I think that my scholarly sloth would place me in the first level of hell. I somehow got from there to reading about Sheol, the Old Testament concept of afterlife, which sounds eminently reasonable. It is, basically, nothing. I have also long wondered what could theoretically be reconstructed from information. If everything transmits information which is connected to a source, could that source be reconstructed. That is, could one raise the dead. This is a poem about those subjects, and reality TV, and Facebook, and Oprah.
There is no hell for Jews,
There’s only a pile of shoes,
In the Washington museum.
It’s only empty, it’s only nothing,
Forever quiet, never fussing
They say that Jesus came once,
And broke the stairs
But no one cares.
In Sheol, that is, in solitude,
Away from life’s vicissitude
Eternal, not infernal,
Not in flames, or ice
It’s not so bad and not so nice
Whether you did good or vice
Endless empty will suffice
For all eternity.
Remnants only linger
And no one points a finger
Either up or down
You simply lurk
Not saint or jerk
Just a shadow of what you were.
And indeed, so many dead
Slumber now unknown, unread
True records are only kept
With bodies in the wake
If they killed and fucked so much,
That they reft the earth they touched,
It would remember, it would erupt,
Those bones on judgement day.
So when Facebook Judgement beta left
It followed history down the cleft
To make the final line.
Scanners scanned, centrifuges spun
And when the science was all done
From DNA vat they had all come
In bodily form, or simulacrum
Along the sainted, tainted line.
Alexander, Genghis Khan,
Mata Hari, Katsu Don,
All of history’s right and wrong,
Were lined up in row.
Only those remembered, see,
From history books or bits of TV
Only information could be,
Reconstructed for Judgement Day.
Only echoes amplified,
That shuddering through time,
Spoke enough to make a rhyme
Could program catch
And humbly, slowly, oddly patch
Back into a pile of flesh and match
Up to its final fate.
So some were slated in to dwell,
What might pass for Dante’s hell
Nine deep layers, some in ice
Not so bad but not so nice
The problem was how to suffice,
How to dice up and divise
And how to judge what’s bad or kind
When this God had left all books behind
Of that technology
For, the prophets spoke through Facebook
They appeared on Cable TV
And in time, as time unwinds,
She emerged quite naturally
The people called her Oprah,
The Loch Ness called her Nell,
But wherever she was and whatever she does,
That was where she dwelled.
People were still around in sorts,
Like ants or plants or magnetic north
But they slowly joined the cosmic port
That took them into She
The gender was a crutch of course
A pointless genital recourse
When reproduction was a source
Of information retrieved.
But when that job could be outsourced,
With half the mess and half the cost
And no inconvenient data loss
It soon saw to fade away
But this was all besides the point,
The show on now was to anoint
Who was great and who’d disappoint
And who would go to hell
The other souls still dwelled in Sheol
Where it weren’t too hot and it weren’t too cold
Where there wasn’t really much to show
And where God’s light never shone.
But for those who craved land and fame
For those who sought to etch a name
From Pyramid to temple vain,
They were all called to play the game
On Judgement TV.
They were put in a house
To mate and grouse
And the bad ones were burnt alive.