The Seven Deadly Social Networks

“Lust, of course, is Tinder. That’s easy. In Dante’s Inferno, a source of much seven-deadly-sin apocrypha, lustful souls are blown around forever like they’re stuck in a hurricane. Today they would be condemned to a similar cyclone—to swipe right forever but never get a match.

“Gluttony is Instagram. We hear sometimes of Tantalus, stuck in a pool below branches laden with fruit. His punishment was that the fruit always pulled away from his grasp, and the water always receded when he tried to drink. So it is with Instagram: The most tantalizing morsels pass in front of our eyes, and we can eat none of them.

“On to Greed. According to Dante, the greedy and avaricious are condemned to joust with each other using enormous heavy boulders, forever. What’s more, they are rendered unrecognizable—each soul appears as the blandest, dullest version of itself. Does that sound like LinkedIn or what? Mandelbaum’s translation put it particularly well:

… I saw multitudes
to every side of me; their howls were loud
while, wheeling weights, they used their chests to push.
They struck against each other; at that point,
each turned around and, wheeling back those weights,
cried out: “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

“Sloth was Zynga once, per Hoffman, but Zynga is no more. Now sloth is Netflix. I know that’s not a social network, but, eh.

“Wrath, according to Dante, was a twin sin to sullenness. He wrote that they both came from the same essential error: Wrath is rage expressed, sullenness is rage unexpressed. And he condemned both the sullen and the wrathful to the Fifth Circle—where, in a foul marsh, the wrathful attacked each other unendingly, without ever winning; while the sullen sat beneath the murk and stewed and scowled and acted aloof. Rarely has there been a better description of Twitter.

“Envy makes people so desirous of what they don’t have that they become blind to what they have. That’s Pinterest. I don’t have a joke about it.

“And what about pride, the weightiest sin? Hoffman said it was Facebook, but I’m not so sure. Pride is sometimes considered the sin from which all others flow: the belief that one is essentially better than all one’s neighbors. It is, I imagine, something like telling everyone else they’re bad at what they do and then saying “ping me.” Pride is Medium.

“If Facebook doesn’t represent pride, then, what is it? Some theologians recognized two other sins beyond the original seven. The first was Vanity or Vainglory—an unrestrained belief in one’s own attractiveness, and a love of boasting. That’s Facebook.

“But the second of the new sins was Acedia, a word we have now largely lost but whose meaning survives somewhat in melancholy. It is the failure to do one’s work and take interest in the world—a cousin to boredom, exhaustion, and listlessness. It is the Hamlet Feeling. It is the feeling of Tumblr, it is the feeling of Deep YouTube—it is the feeling of the afternoon Internet.” […]    –Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, May 9, 2016

Leslye Headland, “Bachelorette” (2010)

leslye-headland-bachlorette-2010“…Bachelorette was the second in Ms. Headland’s series based on Dante’s seven deadly sins. The company has been presenting the plays in the order she has written them since she started in 2007 with Cinephilia, her lust play.
Bachelorette is about gluttony, which in Ms. Headland’s contemporary take is expressed through self-destructive addictions to alcohol, drugs, shopping, bad boyfriends and binge bulimia. With greed (Assistance), sloth (Surfer Girl), and wrath (Reverb) also under her belt, she is now completing Accidental Blonde, about envy.” [. . .]    –Celia McGee, The New York Times, July 13, 2010

See Also: IAMA Theater Company, Los Angeles

Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (2007)

philip-zimbardi-the-lucifer-effect-understanding-how-good-people-turn-evil-2007From Chapter One:
“Lucifer’s sin is what thinkers in the Middle Ages called ‘cupiditas.’ For Dante, the sins that spring from that root are the most extreme ‘sins of the wolf,’ the spiritual condition of having an inner black hole so deep within oneself that no amount of power or money can ever fill it. For those suffering the mortal malady called cupiditas, whatever exists outside of one’s self has worth only as it can be exploited by, or taken into one’s self. In Dante’s Hell those guilty of that sin are in the ninth circle, frozen in the Lake of Ice. Having cared for nothing but self in life, they are encased in icy Self for eternity. By making people focus only on oneself in this way, Satan and his followers turn their eyes away from the harmony of love that unites all living creatures.
The sins of the wolf cause a human being to turn away from grace and to make self his only good–and also his prison. In the ninth circle of the Inferno, the sinners, possessed of the spirit of the insatiable wolf, are frozen in a self-imposed prison where prisoner and guard are fused in an egocentric reality.”    –Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect (2007)

Contributed by Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin, ’08)

Fritz Lang, “Metropolis” (1927)

fritz-lang-metropolis-1927“At about 80-90 minutes into the film, the Seven Deadly Sins with Death are presented as statues in a church. Death is playing a bone as if it were a flute, and the statues of the Seven Deadly Sins come to life.”    –Ian Eternick

Contributed by Ian Eternick (Luther College, ’11)

Sin-O-Mints: “For the Sinner in You”

sin-o-mints.jpg

Found at: Santosha (retrieved on September 15, 2006)
See also: Philosopher’s Guild (retrieved on June 7, 2013)

“Report: 92 Percent Of Souls In Hell There On Drug Charges”

report-92-percent-of-souls-in-hell-there-on-drug-charges“HELL. A report released Monday by the Afterlife Civil Liberties Union indicates that nine out of 10 souls currently serving in Hell were condemned on drug-related sins. ‘Hell was created to keep dangerous sinners off the gold-paved streets of Heaven,’ ACLU spokesman Barry Horowitz said. ‘But lately, it’s become a clearing-house for the non-evil souls that Heaven doesn’t know how to deal with.'”    —The Onion, October 12, 2005