The criminal act (For the EveryMan): The act of dropping from the purview of civilization into the black hole that has and always will be Dante’s Inferno. The act of seeing your rights, your hopes and your dreams being pulled away from you, while you gape helpless. There is nothing graceful or poetic or even tragic about such a fall. It is like having a giant upside-down bowl come down on top of you, blacking out everything and leaving you only with an acute awareness of your own laboured breaths. And in that split second, you already know it is too late: you have passed into the nether world
And in this new disorienting world you find yourself in, it is possible that you scream in defiance, again and again and develop new senses, new weapons; or discover ones you always had but knew nothing of to survive. You learn to adapt to the rules of the Darkness, you learn to see again, blurred at first & then crystal clear, forever alert. You learn that some rights can be wrested, others are gifted as a token of respect. A new life, a new way of living, a new civilization. A new definition of criminal. And you await the next onset of darkness, always on the edge for now are on a high: crazed & cynical.
Or you may not have time to defy or adapt. The bowl which swallowed all the light might have creatures which swoop down from out of the darkness and crawl out from underneath the black, black ground and rend you into nothing-ness: annihilating even the memory of your existence. Except the scents of fear and pain which soak the air & the earth, for the creatures to feed on and for the next victim to breathe in harshly.
Or there may be no creatures, no scents: Nothing. Just the nothingness and time moving forward, each moment taking away a part of your life. A life, which no matter how abject gave you a sense of something. Of hunger, of misery, of fear and anger. But here, the Inferno simply bids time to let you mould, forgotten and unforgiven. For, in the civilized world, the criminal act cannot be undone, only atoned & sometimes even that is not enough. So here you are, you life being robbed from you, moment by agonizing moment, waiting for that moment when time stops moving in your reality. Sometimes that moment is called insanity, sometimes death; what does it matter?
For what you call something in the civilized world is what it becomes. For in the civilized world, trees & mayflies feel not, so they may be humiliated. In the civilized world, you are akin to a tree, for a criminal feels not, or would he have become what he has . And so, he must be salvaged.
“We must save his soul!” the priest screams. “Confess, Confess!”, cries the mob. “Yes, I slept with my mother & my mother slept with me. What is our Judgement? Let us be Judged so that others may know the path they may not tread. Let our Judgement be for those who would otherwise follow.”
“. . . . One day, for pleasure,We read of Lancelot, by love constrained:Alone, suspecting nothing, at our leisure.. . .And so was he who wrote it; that day we read. . .No further. . . .”
~ Il Inferno
“Did I kill the old hag? No, not the old hag–I killed myself!”
~ Crime & Punishment