Hilbert’s Inferno

hilbert-inferno-omni-magazine“Hell may be the most interesting part of Dante’s famous poem, but its physical existence has always been a topic of debate among philosophers and theologians. If either space or time is finite—a distinct possibility in our current theories of cosmology—how can there be room for a potentially infinite number of sinners for eternity? In what he admits is a speculative proposal, University of Edinburgh philosopher Alasdair Richmond suggests that a hell large enough for an infinite number of the damned could be contained within the boundaries of a finite space, and could provide infinitely-long punishment, even if time itself is finite—but only with the help of time travel. The quite literally devilish trick is a kind of time loop, but not an exact loop. (That would mean that the damned merely suffer through the same experience over and over, without any awareness of the eternal nature of their plight—which is not suffering enough for the traditional idea of Hell.) If the loop shifts and the gap shrinks just the tiniest bit each time around, you end up with an ever-tightening time spiral. You can fit an infinite number of spirals in a tiny amount of space the same way an infinite number of points lie between any two other points on a line. This hell, which Richmond calls ‘Hilbert’s Inferno’ (for pioneering mathematician David Hilbert), might deliver truly eternal torment to an infinite population of sufferers, while the non-suffering and temporally finite universe moves steadily onward, toward its own non-judgmental doom.” — Omni Magazine (December 12, 2017)

Richmond’s 2013 paper can be accessed in the Wiley Online Library (institutional login required).

4degreez.com’s “Dante’s Inferno Test”

“The Dante’s Inferno Test was born in March, 2003. Since then, literally millions of people have taken the test and had their souls damned to hell. Links to the test sprung up immediately after it was put up. Sites like fark.com sent thousands of people to see which level of hell they would spend eternity in. During the first few days, the server ground to a halt under the volume of test-takers. The code had to be quickly revised to allow only 28 people to take the test per minute. Beyond that number, server performance would begin to degrade (keep in mind we have other things running on this server as well). In those early days, that quota would be maxed out within the first 10 to 15 seconds of each minute.

“After the first month, traffic began to drop and then level off. The test now averages about 4,000 takers each day. Links to the test appear on countless blogs and message boards. Many people paste their results into online profiles. The test ranks number one in Google for ‘dante’ and ‘dante’s inferno’ and number two for ‘divine comedy.’ Test takers hail from all around the world, including such countries as Denmark, Germany, Brazil, India, and Malaysia.

“In December 2005 a companion test was created, the Seven Deadly Sins quiz, so that you can see which of these mortal sins you are guilty of.” — Dante’s Inferno Test, Background Information, 4degreez.com

Take the test here.

Inferno Magazine

INFERNO: arts, scènes, attitudes is a bilingual (French-English) magazine dedicated to contemporary art, published quarterly and available both in print and online. The magazine’s offices are located in Avignon, France.

“INFERNO est depuis 2013 la revue européenne référence des pratiques contemporaines: Art, Performance, Danse, Théâtre, Littératures… Tout ce qui compte dans la création contemporaine la plus exigeante et novatrice n’échappe pas à INFERNO, classée comme l’une des 10 revues les plus influentes d’Europe.” —INFERNO la revue

gif-inferno-magazine

Sky Bardsey, The Afterwards series

“The Afterwards is a nine volume novel series, by Sky Bardsey that I personally think is a reimagined version of Dante’s Inferno. That is, if Dante were a teenage girl and lived right now. The edgy books are narrated in the first-person POV and are filled with hidden meanings and homages to Dante’s vision of Hell. However, this series seriously challenges and changes some of his assertions.”    –Heather M.

http://solsticiorebelde.com/featured-book/

(Contributed by Heather M. at Solsticio, Rebelde and Company)

Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Letter from Österlen”

Paris-Review-Karl-Ove-Knausgaard-Letter-From-Osterlen-Dante“I think Harold Bloom was right when he wrote that Dante was not a Christian poet. It is something else. That said, The Divine Comedy doesn’t end in Lucifer’s maw at the bottom of hell; the journey continues, out on a sea, onto a beach, up a mountain, and out into the heavens. The division of hell into circles, zones, and specific places for specific sins can seem like a bureaucratic perversion of sorts, order baring its teeth in the most twisted manner, but hell must also be understood in relation to its opposite, heaven and all that is good, whose image is light that knows no limits, but floats unhindered and limitless over everything. The good is open and devoid of difference, evil confined and closed upon itself. What makes Dante difficult to grasp is that this is a system humans find themselves in, it is inflicted on them from outside. Both the limiting darkness and the inverse limitless light are steadfast and constant, one marking our connection to the animal and mute biology, the other our entryway to the divine, while man himself arises from something else, his individuality, which is peculiar to each.” — Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Letter from Österlen,” The Paris Review (December 1, 2014), 199-208

Dante’s Inferno as written by Dr. Seuss (Reddit Writing Prompt)

In March 2018 Reddit user The2500 posted the following Writing Prompt: “Dante’s Inferno as written by Dr. Seuss.” Here is a selection from the first entry:

And gave poor Dante a very big fright

And scared, Dante was, in the woods called sin

Dr-Seuss-Cat-in-the-hat-Dantes-Inferno-Reddit-Writing-PromptsFret not, Virgil said, and gave him his hand.

‘For together we must travel throughout the land!

Through Hell and Eden, Purgatory and all!’

Dante gasped, ‘But why upon me must this fate befall?

Oh me, oh my, I think I might cry!’

Virgil smiled and shook his head.

‘O ’tis Beatrice’s call,’ he plainly said.

‘Beatrice?’

‘Oh yes! She wishes your spirit to be put to the test.’

Dante jumped, he leaped, he punched the sky.

‘Joy upon joys! I’ve been graced. I’m so happy, I think I might die!’

Virgil grabbed him, ‘Then let us make haste, this duo of you and I.’

And so they walked, en route to limbo.

They braced and prepared to go low. Low upon lows, through Hell and their foes.”

— “Dante’s Inferno As Written By Dr. Seuss” on Reddit.com

Contributed by Jessica Beasley (Florida State University ’18)

The Dante Trap by Arnaud Delalande (2011)

“Murder follows murder, each more gruesome than the last, and as Viravolta begins to draw the connections between these deaths, and the torments reserved for sinners in each of Dante’s circles of hell, he finds himself embroiled in a terrible game of cat and mouse. As the streets of Venice fill with masked Carnival-goers, and as Anna and Viravolta are once again thrown together, he is drawn further into the inferno, to the heart of a secret sect and a plot to bring about the downfall of the city.” —Orion Books

Contributed by Alessandra Mazzocchi (Florida State University ’19)

“Deceased Souls Backed Up At River Styx Ferry Crossing During Underworld Transit Strike,” The Onion

“HADES—With no boatmen to take them across the dark stygian waters to the dry, sunless lands of the dead, millions of newly deceased souls were reportedly backed up on the banks of the River Styx during a transit strike by the Underworld Ferry Workers Union, sources confirmed Friday. ‘Yeah, I get it—Charon, Phlegyas, and the rest are expected to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all of eternity and have never seen their wages raise beyond one golden obol per passenger, but souls still need to journey into the afterlife, you know,’ said former St. Paul, MN resident Rick Hoffman, who has not advanced in line since succumbing to congenital heart failure five weeks ago. Onion-Deceased-Souls-River-Styx-Transit-Strike‘It’s like, I can physically see Cerberus standing on the other side. Someone needs to paddle us over there, and I don’t care if he’s organized labor or not.’ Hoffman added that he hoped the strike would end soon, as he was ‘getting pretty creeped out’ by the keening souls who, unable to pay the fare, are forced to wander the shores weeping and crying out for a hundred years.” –“Deceased Souls Backed Up At River Styx Ferry Crossing During Underworld Transit Strike,” The Onion, April 27, 2018

Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho (1991)

The novel opens with “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

(Contributed by Antonio Barrenechea)

Tweeting with Dante (2018)

On January 1, 2018, Pablo Maurette tweeted an invitation to a “massive, open, simultaneous reading” of the Divine Comedy, one canto each day, for the beginning of the year 2018. #Dante2018 sparked a viral phenomenon, in which readers across Latin America posted quotes, images, photos, reflections, and other comments on their reading as they kept up with the canto-per-day challenge.

See the tweets at #dante2018.

See also this article in La Stampa about the phenomenon, especially in Latin America and with Spanish speakers (in Italian).

And see Jorge Carrión’s reflections on the viral phenomenon in the NYTimes Spanish edition (essay in Spanish).