Damn It All
review of The Penguin Book of Hell
edited by Scott G. Bruce
One of the prime motives of these texts is rage, rage against people occupying positions of exceptional trust and power who lie and cheat and trample on the most basic values and yet who escape the punishment they so manifestly deserve. History is an unending chronicle of such knaves, and it is a chronicle too of frustration and impotence, certainly among the mass of ordinary people but even among those who feel that they are stakeholders in the system. Hell is the last recourse of political impotence. You console yourself — you manage to stay asleep, as Freud might say — by imagining that the loathsome characters you detest will meet their comeuppance in the afterlife.
But Voltaire and the Enlightenment carried a different message: wake up. Throw out the whole hopelessly impotent fantasy; it is, in any case, the tool not only of the victims but also of the victimizers. We must fight the criminals here and now, in the only world where we can hope to see justice.
Heaven is reading The New York Review of Books
And so for day 2333