Luogo è in inferno detto Malebolge.
In the “evil pits” (malebolge) of the 8th circle of hell, alongside the bolgias of the panderers, seducers, flatterers, false prophets, hypocrites, evil counselors, simonists, counterfeits, and so on, Dante had planned to create a special ditch for the forgers of words. Recently discovered notes for Canto XXIII show that he intended to punish these unfortunate souls to forever keep eating the offensive words they have invented, throw them back up into their laps, and eat them again, to the obscene laughter and ridicule of malicious little devils brandishing sharp whips when the forgers of words slack off in their eating. Unfortunately, when Dante expanded the episode of the poets’ flight from the Malebranche, in Canto XXIII, the forgers of words were dropped. All that remains is Dante’s draft for this section.
As I adjusted to the dying light,
Human-like figures issued from the mist,
And at my feet I found a tortured soul,
Contorted like a circus acrobat,
Contending with a long, unyielding word
That would not bend in any useful way,
Fiercely resisting to be swallowed whole.
Retributalitarianism it read.
Said I: “How came you to such dreary fate?”
And he to me: “Oh, how I rue the day
This awful word, which then appeared to me
As smooth as silk, promised to energize
My LinkedIn bio sketch and catapult
Me on the map of world-class scholarship.
Alas, my project dismally collapsed
When others forged, out of the molten ore
Of language, words more better than my own.
To top it all, and make my just-deserved
Humiliation utter and complete,
A devil snatched my soul at my demise
And I was brought before a hanging judge
Who sentenced me to this foul-smelling pit.
Said I: “You are in ample company.”
And he to me: “The pit is overfull.
I am but fresh arrived, and still on top.
But under me are heaps of miscreants
Eternally atoning for their sins.”
Not far from him, struggled a wretched soul,
Eyes popping out of sockets from the strain,
Choking on an unpalatable word,
“Commog… commog…” stuck halfway in his throat,
Refusing to go down or to slip back,
Blocking all passage of the vital air,
Until a fiendish devil, with his boot
Administered the palliative kick.
“Commognitive,” the soul said with relief.
“Oh, woe is me for venturing to wed the
Communicative with the cognitive
In an unholy union fit to dupe
The critically challenged easy marks,
The gullible, the tone deaf, and the dumb.”
“But what was it supposed to signify?”
“That I did never fully comprehend.
‘Twas up to my disciples to explain,
The which they did assiduously anon.”
And here his speech abruptly was cut off,
As the regurgitating, awful word
Was presently expelled with a loud retch.
How mercilessly strikes the contrapasso!
What mockery makes punishment of sin!
Oh, the extremes of suffering mine eyes
Have witnessed in that melancholy pit!
What torments, fearful and unspeakable
That anguished multitude had to endure!
I saw heartrending authors throttled by
“Agentic factors” rattling in their throat.
One by “mediatization” garroted
Was writhing on the ground in search of breath.
And hundreds, thousands, countless many others,
With words too long and shocking to pronounce…
This is where Dante’s notes end, although the episode doesn’t look complete. Perhaps some day we will stumble upon its remaining parts.