Dear Dante Alighieri,
My best friend Cara read the first bit of The Divine Comedy three times during our junior year of high school. She did this partly out of love for your sensational writing and dashing rhetoric and partly because she is a Christian and is necessarily preoccupied by your nasty little rings. But mostly she read it because, by comparison, she didn’t feel so badly about spending time at our high school, which was…infernal. Nothing made European History with Mr. Blinkqy (the one who told us the Tower of Babel was in London) more palatable than the certain knowledge that, although we were being inculcated with false and dull information by a man whose intellect was ten times outnumbered by his appetite (that’s the third circle, Blinkqy!), at least we weren’t being chased by wasps as maggots drained our eyes of blood and tears. Basically, thanks, Dante!
I am well aware, however, that soothing manic-depressive high schoolers was not the intended goal of your epic. I’m afraid, though, that today’s youthful reader is no longer intimidated by potent imagery of tongue gnashing and fiery flakes falling from the sky and lizards that chase us and nasty snakes. You may have to update your methods of punishment if you wish to truly frighten, say, University of Chicago students. It should maybe go a bit like this:
I. Limbo: The well-behaved but unbaptized virgins
Methinks there may be one or two of these on this campus. In fact, this is probably your prime demographic, Dante, so if you want to really rope them in, send them to Doc on Thursdays to watch sexploitation films. With their mums.
II. Lust: Casanova on campus
Actually, we’re going to stick with your methods on this one, Dante. Being a student at the University of Chicago is probably already cramping the style of those “carnal malefactors,” so we shall condemn them to being tossed perpetually upon the wind.
III. Gluttony: The unlimited meal planner (That’s me!)
You originally had the gluttons lie in a vile slush of hail and ash, but honestly, I don’t know why you didn’t think of Pierce Dining Hall from the start. Lots of food and absolutely no forks. Ever. And the spoons are the size of bloody shovels.
IV. Greed: The gym bastards.
Send them all to Ratner. Let them fight over a solo treadmill using only their fists and an index-card-sized sign-up sheet.
V. The wrathful and the sullen: smokers and ex-smokers.
They shall live together forever in a little cocoon of nicotine and animosity directly outside of Cobb.
VI. Heresy? On this campus? Let’s skip to:
VII. Violence: angry child
And then it was said that he who had fury in his heart
And fire in his fists should be bound up with thick rope
And plopped into a discussion of Marx, in a room full of That Kids
That he may wriggle in agony for eternity.
VIII. Fraud: those fake hos
Dress them in wizard robes and pointy hats and make them ride the Green Line over and over and over again.
IX. Also, treason’s a bit of a bore, so we’ll skip that, too.
I hope this will be of service to you, Mr. Alighieri. Like I said, we’re all major fans of your work here at University of Chicago, and I think I can safely say that, as a student body, we would be delighted if you were to use our school as the basis for a remixed Inferno.