Anne Bean

I make delicious words. // I make words delicious.

Tag: wtf

Stock Photo Hell: Thieves

Stock Photo Hell

lizard-brown-white-background-33432430Circle Eight: Fraud

Bolgia Six: Thieves

After speaking, the thief emphatically thrust
Both fists in the air, middle fingers extended,
And shouted, “Take this, God! It’s just for you!”

-Canto XXV, Mary Jo Bang translation

The bolgia of the thieves is a strange and interesting place, and contains to my mind one of the more horrifying punishments in hell. Thieves steal the things people need to live, parting people from their goods. (A herd of cattle is one of the mentioned items stolen in Canto XXV.) They may cause great misery and anguish, but are generally not there to see it, having left, as they say, like a thief in the night. They’ve transformed goods, money, identities…into their own. And so the theme of transformation, or more accurately, metamorphosis, infuses the bolgia of thieves.

The bolgia is full of reptiles: snakes, lizards, some fanciful six-legged lizard. The reptiles slither up and absorb the bodies of the thieves, sometimes through tangling or…orifices…or else through bizarre melting together, as described below. In general, the idea is this: they took away people’s material agency, and now their bodily agency is forfeit. People turn to lizards turn to people get wrapped up with snakes and it’s all very squicky. This is perhaps the squickiest metamorphosis:

The meeting of the corresponding parts went like this:
The reptile divided its tail into two tines,
While the wounded one drew his feet together.

The man’s lower legs thighs
Stuck to each other so completely
That soon there was no visible seam.

The divided tail took the shape of the legs
The other was just losing; the one’s skin turned soft
While the other’s was becoming enameled.

I watched while the man’s long arms retracted
Into his armpits; in turn, the creature’s short forelegs
Lengthened in direct proportion.

Then the lizard’s hind feet twisted together, becoming
That member a man keeps hidden behind his zipper,
While the unfortunate one issue two new feet from his.

-Canto XXV, Mary Jo Bang translation which is really so good go buy it now

This is one rare and shining moment when the stock photo searches are way less disturbing than the cantos they came from.

Search terms: thief, female thief

It’s funny; we’ve got a very specific cultural construction for what a thief looks like, and it’s this guy:

stock-photo-thief-with-bag-isolated-on-white-174747545

Strangely enough, white men wearing stripes and/or small fashionable hats are not followed around in the department stores, even though they’re clearly one mask away from being obvious thieves. It was interesting; most of the pictures I found were of kinda hairy white men, mostly in the ninja suit.

stock-photo-burglar-in-black-balaclava-with-crowbar-and-flashlight-at-night-92801941Of the women, which came up about 15-20% of the time in a generic search, there seemed to be two basic thief modes:

1. Ninja

She's actually part of a ninja pizza delivery service, but I can understand your confusion.

She’s actually part of a ninja pizza delivery service, but I can understand your confusion.

2. Catwoman

female-thief-seductive-running-away-over-rooftops-34063300

Seriously. It’s Catwoman.

Occasionally, there would be a picture of a potentially well-executed crime…

fig. 1: Actually plausible con scheme.

fig. 1: Actually plausible con scheme.

…but mostly, there were some impressively bad/weird/incompetent criminals out there.

fig 2.: cleverly grabbing a wallet out his front pocket while he's busy being confused by how payphones work.

fig 2.: cleverly grabbing a wallet out his front pocket while he’s busy being confused by how payphones work.

"Concept photograph of a female grave robber in terrifying makeup stealing human limbs and body parts." Presumably this means that someone buried their relative's bright red/bloodsoaked flesh in separate little adorable body-part-sized coffins. What.

“Concept photograph of a female grave robber in terrifying makeup stealing human limbs and body parts.”
Presumably this means that someone buried their relative’s bright red/blood-soaked flesh in separate little adorable body-part-sized coffins. What.

 

Next up in Stock Photo Hell: the Evil Counselors

Spoilers: We’re not talking about crappy girl scout camp. Although on that note, you should all be reading Lumberjanes or you are remiss in your duty of reading awesome comics.

Stock Photo Hell: Grafters

Stock Photo Hell

Man in red hood and devil mask with pitchfork gives exaggerated "OK" sign

This guy wins the Most Relevant to Dante Award for the canto.

Circle Eight: Fraud

Bolgia Five: The Grafters

Confession: This is my absolute favorite part of hell. Why, you ask?

  1. There is a demon whose name, literally translated, is “Badass.”
  2. This bolgia consists of a boiling lake of pitch filled with corrupt politicians, lawyers, and probably used car salesmen. When I think of hell, I think of this and cackle.
  3. This section contains my favorite quote in the entire Inferno:

And their leader made a trumpet of his ass.”

-final line of Canto XXI, Pinsky translation

This phrase is emblazoned in my brain forever. It’s the demon leader’s signal to his followers as they are leading Dante and Virgil through the bolgia. Demon fart jokes aside, this canto is notable because Dante and Virgil interact with this band of wacky demons called the Malebranche, who are the most talkative of the…uh…employees of hell so far. The Malebranche seem like pretty typical demon fare, as in wings and pitchforks. Pitchforks in this case is a very literal term, because the Malebranche seem to spend most of their time shoving the various grafters (a catch-all term for those who cheated others out of money and power) back down into the lake of boiling pitch whenever they attempt to escape. Dante and Virgil spend two entire cantos in this bolgia. They spend the first canto hiding from the demons, then negotiating with them for safe passage. During the next canto, they make it through, and talk to a sinner on their way who tells them a little more about who’s in the lake of pitch with him. But frankly, it’s not the sinners that stick with me from this section, it’s the demons.

I really like the Malebranche. They’ve got personality, and verve, and they all have names. There are twelve named Malebranche, which are often left in Italian but are pretty hilarious when idiomatically translated into English. The Italian names roll nicely off the tongue: Malacoda, Cagnazzo, Scarmiglione… but there’s something kind of awesome about a troupe of demons named Badass, Nasty Dog, and Troublemaker… I really just want a Wacky Adventures of the Malebranche spinoff series. Or perhaps a Sister Mary Ann Fuckoff vs The Malebranche series…hmm….

Let’s talk about translation ever so briefly. I’ve been using the Alan Mandlebaum translation, which is a 20th century standard, and conveniently available online. There are a bazillion translations of Dante, everything from literal to poetic to modern. My favorite is the poetic and lovely translation by Robert Pinsky; however, I am super-excited for a new translation of the Inferno that I just got. It’s a modern, colloquial translation by Mary Jo Bang. She does some, for lack of a better term, localization of references and names, making some things more relevant to the 21st century. For example, she translates the Malebranche’s names as things that are strongly suggested by the Italian but are more relevant to modern history, such as Qaddafi (in Italian Libiccoco) and Killer Clown (Alichino, a clown character in commedia puppet shows). Mary Jo Bang translates my favorite bit at end of Canto XXI as “each [demon] used his tongue to signal their leader with a raspberry; He, in turn, responded with a toot from his bugle-butt.” Epic. The text has great notes, too, and I am excited to read it an use it as a resource for the rest of our trip through Stock Photo Hell.

Speaking of, Stock Photos!

Search terms: corrupt politician, demon with pitchfork, lawyer, corrupt lawyer

Frankly, a lot of the “corrupt politician” stuff was boring and similar to the “corruption” stock photos from Bolgia Four. So I’m going to skip it and instead focus on two things.

One: a brief discussion of Demon With Pitchfork.

I was actually pleasantly surprised at Commedia Mask Guy, who appeared at the beginning of this post. He’s very Malebranchian.

I actually unironically like this mask.

I actually unironically like this mask.

And she gets to wear it, too! Although with less clothing.

And she gets to wear it, too! Although with less clothing.

The rest of the results were cheesy vector images of demons with pitchforks, terrible CGI images of demons with pitchforks, and of course sexy lady demons with pitchforks. Because we can’t not have that in Stock Photo Land.

The creators of AutoCad are experiencing inexplicable nausea right now.

It’s a bad CGI sexy lady demon. Worst of both worlds.

There was also this nun with an axe, whom I can only assume heads the Social Justice committee at the Convent of Jesus Tapdancing Christ, a.k.a. home of Sister Mary Ann Fuckoff.

There was also this nun with an axe, whom I can only assume heads the Social Justice committee at the Convent of Jesus Tapdancing Christ, a.k.a. home of Sister Mary Ann Fuckoff.

Two: I have discovered another Secret Trope of Stock Photos (see also: women laughing alone eating salad). I found this one when searching “lawyer.” Stock Photo Land certainly does have both male and female lawyers, they sure do! There were some shots of just one female lawyers, which were pretty much what you’d expect.

black woman in lawyer robes with glasses, dossier, book of law

I AM THE LAW

I don't trust this law book, though. I mean, the title is in Algiers. ALGIERS WHO USES THAT #fontsnob

I don’t trust this law book, though. I mean, the title is in Algiers. ALGIERS WHO USES THAT #fontsnob

But, at least at Shutterstock, in a business deal that involves three or more people, there will be a token woman who is at the meeting but not necessarily active, maybe watching or listening. I call this trope “women watching men shake hands“:

stock-photo-business-people-shaking-hands-finishing-up-a-meeting-130099706stock-photo--businessman-shaking-hands-to-seal-a-deal-with-his-partner-149002700stock-photo-two-business-colleagues-shaking-hands-during-meeting-137933048stock-photo-business-people-shaking-hands-finishing-up-a-meeting-195028946

GOOD GODS IT NEVER ENDSSS I NEED A LAKE OF BOILING PITCH, STAT

GOOD GODS IT NEVER ENDSSS

Jeezy creezy. I need a lake of boiling pitch, stat. And it’s the stock photographers that are getting dumped in it.

Next up: Hypocrites!

Spoilers: Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?

Stock Photo Hell: Violence, Part Three

Stock Photo Hell

Road signs for Heaven and Hell

Gosh. Dante, you could have just asked for directions.

 Violence, Part Three: Violence Against God (and/or Nature and/or Art)

I saw so many flocks of naked souls, all weeping miserably, and it seemed that they were ruled by different decrees. Some lay upon the ground, flat on their backs; some huddled in a crouch, and there they say; and others moved about incessantly. The largest group was those who walked about, the smallest, those supine in punishment; but these had looser tongues to tell their torment. Above that plain of sad, distended flakes of fire showered down; their fall was slow as snow descent on alps when on wind blows.”
-Canto XIV, Mandlebaum translation

So what is violence against God, exactly? Some describe the subcircle as “Violence against nature, God, and art,” which I find an interesting conflation of three things. In modern society, one might describe, say, cutting all funding to middle school art programs as violence against art. One might describe drilling for oil as violence against nature. One might not have such a dogmatic and unified view of God as Dante and his 14th century folks did, and therefore opinions may differ as to what, exactly, counts as violence against God.

Virgil’s official definition of what counts as Violence Against God consists of three sins: blasphemy, sodomy, and usury. I’d like to point out that by that definition, all those college loans with absurd interest rates would be considered violence against God/nature/art. But of those three sins, there’s one that sticks in my craw, at any rate, more than the others.

Let’s talk about sodomy a tad, shall we?

The word comes from the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, that naughty city of perverts where Lot and his wife were like “augh no must escape this giant orgy because God’s gonna scour it off the face of the planet. Quick, throw our daughters into the orgy so we can scarper.” They run away, Lot’s wife looks back when she’s not s’posta could, gets turned into a pillar of salt. Cue sad trombones. Out of this came the word sodomy, which was at one time considered any nonstandard sexual practice or sexual taboo, everything from oral sex to bestiality. (T-Rex interrupts: “Who has no thumbs and can’t come up with a working definition of sex? THIS GUY.” True, T-Rex, sex is hard to define. Good point.) Anyway, in the fullness of the Victorian Age, sodomy became synonymous with butt stuff. And that led to connotations, in the 20th century, of homosexuality. As a reminder, in Dante’s day, homosexuality wasn’t a word that people used. It wasn’t even an identity. There were some terms surrounding homosexual behavior (and some sassy medieval nuns who had a very nice time, I suspect), but not until the 1800s was there a concept of homosexual identity even being a thing. So perhaps I am being a Dante apologist, but dang, sodomy sure seemed to be more about, as medieval art scholar Bob Mills “a range of sexual activity deemed unacceptable to Christians […] every sex act that wasn’t aimed at human reproduction within the bond of marriage.” Focault called sodomy “an utterly confused category” and I tend to agree. Anyway. On to the canto:

The main person Dante talks to in this canto, actually, talks not of God but of Jove, because he’s a Roman warrior/asshole who mainly got his kicks off standing on hills and taunting Jupiter. Turns out he died by being struck by a bolt of divine lightning, gosh. Capaneus, as he is called, is sort of the honey badger of this circle, lounging around in the burning desert and being like, “What? Come at me bro.” The ironic thing is that he’s so determined to not let the Gods have the pleasure of torturing him in the afterlife that he does a pretty good job of tormenting himself. Self-torture out of arrogance. Huh. I bet if you go to the bro-iest bars in your area on a Saturday night, you might see some self-torture out of arrogance. Just saying.

The other person Dante talks to in this circle is his former mentor, Brunetto Latini. Apparently he was more into sodomy than usury? Mostly I find him interesting because he’s a respected friend of Dante’s who’s being punished in Hell.  Dante-the-author put a ton of people he knew–patrons, friends, enemies–all over the afterlife. And yes, that means he put the people who were paying for him to write his epic poems in Paradise. So think about that before freaking out about selling out, you artist types. Ironic thoughts, for this circle.

Gosh, stock photos. That’s a part of this mess. My search terms: violence against God, violence against art, violence against nature, sodomy, usury, blasphemy.

Sodomy wins the “most relevant to medieval times” award:

stone frieze of a dude having sex with a horse

I know, this carving is from a temple in India and actually has fuck-all to do with medieval Catholicism. My other choices were an illustration of two men holding hands, an illustration of a lady making out with a dog, or a terribly cheesy CGI guy who is naked and presumably wanking. I mean, bonus points for covering all the bases, I guess?? Frig.

Usury wins the “silliest acting” award:

guy signs a contract in front of moneylender with suspiciously raised eyebrow

Gotta watch for that evil eyebrow, dude. This is the sort of moneylender you’ve gotta go all Christlike on, i.e. flip the table and walk out.

Blasphemy wins the “sort of nonsensical” award. Lots of pictures of pentacles, the Bible, and political violence. One good picture of the last Pope with a Hitler ‘stache drawn on him. And this:

Jesus flipping the bird.

For reference, this is the incarnation of Christ that Sister Mary Ann Fuckoff worships.

On to the violences. Firstly, “violence against god” got very few results. The silliest and best one was this:

scales with a bible on one side and money/guns on the other side

Perhaps aside from the crack, I feel like these things end up on the same side of the scales in America. Just saying.

“Violence against Nature” got me lots of pictures of leaves, dudes with guns, ladies with swords, barbed wire, and this little gem:

A tree with a crime scene outline of a body taped on it.

I mean, what is this, Daphne: the crime scene?

“Violence against art” was perhaps the most interesting of the three violences, with more results and some pieces of art that stood against violence. (And yes, there were a couple of references to violence against women, but that’s oh so difficult to avoid.) It also wins the “oh god the racism whyyy” award. There were a lot of pictures of women with guns: a white woman and a black woman in photo studio poses with handguns. Perhaps they were more artistic violence than the violence I was searching for earlier? But boy howdy, there sure were some interesting differences between the two models’ poses:

"A middle aged, white, female business woman or teacher holds a semi automatic pistol during this dark photo shoot against black."

“A middle aged, white, female business woman or teacher holds a semi automatic pistol during this dark photo shoot against black.”

"A young beautiful african american female holds a semi automatic pistol during this dark photo shoot against black."

“A young beautiful african american female holds a semi automatic pistol during this dark photo shoot against black.”

 

I tried to pick two poses that were similar: both women are looking at the camera, pointing the gun at the camera while holding it sideways. This is par for the course for the rest of the photos: the white woman looks neutral or pleasantly happy. The black woman looks angry and/or sexual. The captions tell you that the white “woman” is a “business woman or teacher.” The black woman is “beautiful,” “african american” and “female.”

 

Urg. I’m dropping this mic. It got icky again. I’m out.

 

 

Next up: Fraud!
Spoilers: It’s more fun than Violence?!

Stock Photo Hell: Violence, Part One

Stock Photo Hell

stock-vector-abstract-scream-background-eps-183257417

Spoilers: this is how I felt while writing this post.

Circle Seven: Violence, Part One

But fix your eyes below, upon the valley, where those who injure others violently, boil. O blind cupidity and insane anger, who goad us on so much our short life, then leave us to steep in grief eternally!”

The circle of violence is divided into three subsections, the first of which is those who were violent towards others. In a contrapasso sort of fashion, these souls hang out in a river of boiling blood. For those with more violence to their names (like Alexander the Great), the blood reaches to their throats. For those who, I suppose, were a tad less violent, other blood options include to the waist (Attila the Hun) and just ’round the ankles (a couple of highwaymen from Dante’s day). This river is also guarded by centaurs, including Chiron. So, sorry, any Percy Jackson fans out there, Chiron’s job in the Inferno is guarding violent people who eternally boil in a river of blood. Which is a far cry from teaching middle school (as the Chiron character does in the books). Er…right…?

“Gee,” you might be thinking, “We’re at circle seven out of nine. Clearly we must be near the end.” That’s the thing about the Inferno: the closer you get to the bottom the more suddenly complex and packed things are. Considering that Dante’s vision of hell is shaped more or less like a funnel, that means the Lower Hells are jam-packed. I may combine sub-sections at some point, but for now, we’re slogging right along.

Things have been pretty lighthearted in the Upper Hells, but in the same way that Dante gets slowly corrupted by his journey downwards, so, gentle readers, are we. By which I mean to say, shit’s about to get real. By which I mean to say, this is a pretty depressing circle, stock photo-wise. Because when I type in “violence,” I automatically get a ton of pictures of battered women, or women being hit by men, or domestic violence type images. Sometimes there are children being battered or scared by threat of violence. Interesting, then, that in the weird cultural bubble that is Stock Photo Land, the first thing associated with violence is the victims of violence (who are women and children). The perpetrators of violence are almost invisible.

violence-against-women-woman-victim-domestic-abuse-focus-hand-32487795domestic-violence-young-man-abused-woman-25670916This was one of the only examples I saw of adult male-on-male violence in my search:

And suddenly it's all cheesy instead of serious/dramatic editorial. Shows you what we take seriously and what we don't.

And suddenly it’s all cheesy instead of serious/dramatic editorial. Shows you what we take seriously and what we don’t.

And this was the most, perhaps, thoughtful image, or at least the most relevant to Dante’s Inferno image:

Red Sea? River of Blood? Eh?

Red Sea? River of Blood? Eh?

When I type in “violent woman,” on the other hand, I am suddenly surrounded by the cheeseball stock photography we have grown so oddly fond of: the tropes I have termed the Four Chambers of Stock Photo Women are alive and well. (The abused women pictures drop down to only about 20% of the results.) However, it is important to note: multitasking mothers and dieters cannot be violent. Only business women and sex objects can be violent.

BUSINESS VIOLENCE

BUSINESS VIOLENCE

"beautiful young woman in a costume suit with gun trying to kill time" ... Yep. Somewhere, someone said, "Go with it, yeah, that seems like a great idea."

“beautiful young woman in a costume suit with gun trying to kill time”

Yep. Somewhere, someone said, “Go with it, yeah, that seems like a great idea.”dangerous-woman-15627560

Actually, this was the closest we got to “violent mother,” which was a very short search with lots of irrelevant results:

angry-mother-frying-pan-8683851Well, there you have it. Stock Photo Land is doing an excellent job supporting the horrible culture of violence against women.

This is the only one of these images that came up in my "violence" search, although the creator of it has a whoooole series of equally inane stick figure violence sequences, including "abusive wife/weak husband," "massacre," and "pervert/stalker." I know you're making some money on the side, O Vector Artist, but I am giving you some serious side-eye.

This is the only one of these images that came up in my “violence” search, although the creator of it has a whoooole series of equally inane stick figure violence sequences, including “abusive wife/weak husband,” “massacre,” and “pervert/stalker.”
I know you’re making some money on the side, O Vector Artist, but I am giving you some serious side-eye.

Blecch. Let’s move on.

Next up: Violence against self, a.k.a. suicides.
Spoilers: It’s depressing, and weird, and serious, and I feel kinda icky.

Stock Photo Hell: Heresy

Stock Photo Hell

Admittedly, heresy is much more about the ones *with* the church and the Bible who still can't get along.

Admittedly, heresy is much more about the ones *with* the church and the Bible who still can’t get along.

Circle Six: Heresy

We made our way inside without a struggle; and I, who wanted to observe the state of things that such a fortress guarded, as soon as I had entered looked about. I saw on every side, a spreading plain of lamentation and atrocious pain. […] here the sepulchers were much more harsh; for flames were cattered through the tombs, and these had kindled all of  them to glowing heat; no artisan could ask for hotter iron.”
-Canto IX, Mandlebaum

The City of Dis, where Dante describes these fiery tombs, is heretic central in Hell. Epicureans and other sects of heretical Christianity are all hanging out in tombs on fire. Virgil comments wryly, “These tombs are far more crowded than you think.” Two points of irony: 1. Those who thought “the soul dies with the body” are now condemned to being wrong in a really painful way for a long time, and 2. The pièce de résistance of the whole city is a heretical Cardinal, who is upside-down in a baptismal font filled with fire. So opposite. Such irony. Wow.

stock-photo-strange-row-of-people-illustration-design-over-a-white-background-173964149

This one wins the Most Relevant to Dante’s Inferno award!

I think it’s only natural to, while reading the Inferno, calculate where you’d end up in Hell. And me? My best guess is that I’d end up in the City of Dis with the heretics. In high school and college I was a semi-active member of the Unitarian-Universalist Association, which stemmed from two heretical Christian sects. Unitarianism was declared heresy at the Council of Nicaea in 325AD, which is pretty old school in terms of heresy. (Unitarians didn’t believe in the trinity, thus the name. Instead, they believed in “a unity of God and Nature”.) Universalism wasn’t declared heresy until the fifth ecumenical council of 533AD, but I think had the far more punk-ass ideology: the doctrine of universal salvation. Everybody is saved. No matter what. It’s almost like, by extension…morals…become a secular thing… huh. Anyway, since the 1950s, the UUA has officially divorced itself from Christianity and now is a creedless faith where you can believe whatever you damn well please but still get together to sing songs from a variety of faith traditions. There are Seders, and Pagan rituals, and Buddhist meditations. I’m sure Dante would have had a field day with the UUA; Garrison Keillor jokes about “fundamentalist Unitarians” burning giant question marks on people’s lawns.

…And at this point in my life, my religious life consists of celebrating the Wheel of the Year with a coven of queer Pagans. It’s like going to church for Christmas and Easter, except with a far higher percentage of lesbians and witches.

 

BUT ANYWAY we’re not here to talk about me, we’re here to talk about what Stock Photo Land considers heretical!

My search terms: heresy, heretic, female heretic (I find it worth noting Dreamstime’s “related searches”: wrath, witchcraft, british national flag, thanksgiving turkey, cute hot woman sexy cleavage.)

Yes, “heresy” was a kind of confusing search. I got the following sorts of things, from most to least logical:

Pictures from the walls of Torquemada's torture chambers

Pictures from the walls of Torquemada’s torture chambers

Statue of Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno, heliocentrist, burned at the stake in 1600, a “martyr for science.”

People shopping at outdoor markets in Europe...? Maybe they're actually Epicureans...! (Actually, I think it's in that same square with Bruno's statue.)

People shopping at outdoor markets in Europe…? Maybe they’re actually Epicureans…! (Actually, I think it’s in that same square with Bruno’s statue.)

Various castles of Carcassonne that defended the Spanish/French border. Let me know if that makes sense to anyone. Are the meeples actually heretics? I don't know!

Various castles of Carcassonne that defended the Spanish/French border. Let me know if that makes sense to anyone. Are the meeples actually heretics? I don’t know!

This pregnant lady...? Is she pregnant with the Antichrist or something...?!

This pregnant lady…? Is she pregnant with the Antichrist or something…?!

 

All that being said, searching “female heretic” in Shutterstock and Dreamstime each produced only one result, and both are SOLID GOD-DAMN GOLD:

black nun flipping of the camera while smoking a cigar

“Hey,” growled Sister Mary Ann Fuckoff, all the while chewing the end of her cigar, “Jesus thinks you’re an asshole.”

truly ridiculous pale woman with long black nails and bloody makeup

Bloodonica, having gone in for a fresh Evil Manicure, had to now say the entire Evil Rosary without the skull falling off her head.

Stock Photo Hell: The Wrathful and Sullen

Stock Photo Hell

I got lots of demons and  also Thor for some reason when searching for wrath. Fire demons aren't til the 8th circle. Psshaw.

I got lots of demons and also Thor for some reason when searching for wrath. Fire demons aren’t til the 8th circle. Psshaw.

Circle Five: The Wrathful and Sullen

When it has reached the foot of those malign gray slopes, the melancholy stream descends, forming a swamp that bears the name of Styx. And I, who was intent on watching it, could make out muddied people in that slime, all naked and their faces furious. They struck each other not with hands alone, but with their heads and chests and with their feet, and tore each other piecemeal with their teeth.

So there are cantos and circles that are probably more stereotypically hellish: demons, pitchforks, lakes of fire, rivers of blood, etc… but I argue that the swamp of the wrathful and sullen is in fact the most metal of the cantos. Here’s why: The place is more or less a giant mosh pit, where angry metalheads rage upwards and sullen emo kids sink downwards. As Virgil explains, “underneath the water are souls who sigh and make this plain of water bubble.” So, this circle is like if a swamp and a mosh pit combined for an Iron Maiden/My Chemical Romance double bill… for one, both groups totally want to kill each other because they hate the others’ taste, but the emo kids are too sad to do anything and the metalheads are too angry to do anything other than froth and churn to the surface of the pit.

And now you all know my Level Five Dante’s Inferno headcanon. Have some theme music while we explore Stock Photo Land’s version of the wrathful and sullen:

Search terms: wrath, wrathful woman, sullen, sullen woman

Unsurprisingly, these two concepts get conflated, particularly during any search with “woman” involved. My “sullen woman” searches, in particular, always turned up some wrathful-looking women as well as a lot of sad women touching the sides of their heads. The point remains, though: wrath and sullenness may well be flip sides of the same coin. That’s why they’re in the swamp together.

I was thinking of dividing my results into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, but instead I picked a trio a little more suited to the situation:

The Blasé
"emotions-headache-young-woman-screaming-pain" Yes, all of those things are the same thing. Headaches and emotions and screaming, all because of hysteria, I'm sure.

“emotions-headache-young-woman-screaming-pain”
Yes, all of those things are the same thing. Headaches and emotions and screaming, all because of hysteria, I’m sure.

"crazy business worker under explosive stress"

“crazy business worker under explosive stress”

The Four Chambers of Stockphoto Women
Housewife/multitasker!

The housewife/multitasker!

The dieter! "Angry fat woman with hammer and scale"

The dieter!
“Angry fat woman with hammer and scale”

The Sex Object!

The Sex Object!

The...businesswoman?  "Mad Business Housewife" Seriously, what does this mean. What.

The…businesswoman?
“Mad Business Housewife”
Seriously, what does this mean. What.

The Accidentally Transgressive
"sullen young girl red" Yes, I am also frustrated with the socially prescribed icons of gender performance. Sullen young girl, let's go read some Judith Butler and feel better.

“sullen young girl red”
Yes, I am also frustrated with the socially prescribed icons of gender performance. Sullen Young Girl, let’s go read some Judith Butler and feel better.

Rachel Pollack once told me a story about a discussion of an ideal weapon for women. Someone suggested poison, someone else suggested the stiletto: sneaky weapons. In the end, though, it was decided that the best weapon for a woman was a hurricane: her wrath become the landscape, her destructive force immense.

Rachel Pollack once told me a story about a discussion of an ideal weapon for women. Someone suggested poison, someone else suggested the stiletto: sneaky weapons. In the end, though, it was decided that the best weapon for a woman was a hurricane: her wrath become the landscape, her destructive force immense.

 

Next up: Heresy!
Spoilers: What Stock Photo Land considers heretical alternately is logical and makes no damn sense.

Stock Photo Hell: Avarice and Prodigality

Stock Photo Hell

post with signs saying "hell" and "paradise"

It’s possible that if things had been this well-signed, Dante wouldn’t have gone on that trip at all. (Also, where’s Purgatory?)

Canto Four: Avarice and Prodigality

“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: Why do you hoard? Why do you squander?

Dante had some pretty specific ideas about greed, a concept which is oddly confusing to Americans, if we are to judge ourselves by our stock photos. Dante broke greed regarding money and wealth down into two categories: hoarders and spenders. These were pretty much flip sides of the same coin, he implied. Both are totally obsessed with money, just in opposite capacities. And these souls’ obsession is the very vehicle of their torture in the Inferno. They’re pushing around giant circular weights that may well look like coins, crashing into each other and screaming at each other like a silly, angry ocean. You know how they say “hell is other people”? In this case, it’s other people who are equally obsessed with money, and vehemently disagree about what should be done with it. I could picture Wall Street stock brokers v celebrities a la Lorde’s Royals (“gold teeth/Gray Goose/tripping in the bathroom” etc) in this situation. O, Dante, why must you still be so relevant.

***

My search terms: Greed, greedy woman, avarice, prodigality (I mean, you never know)

So, “greed” is very much mixed up with gluttony, it would seem. Photos of greed, particularly greedy women, very often involved them eating. Therefore, the most relevant images combines greed for food with greed for money:

a woman with a wad of $1 bills shoved in her mouth

Yep. She’s literally eating money.

It’s funny, just plain “greed” or “avarice” searches turned up a lot more pictures of men than women, mostly white men clutching money with ridiculous expressions:

Because while clutching money, it's very important to have your best poopyface forward. You're also allowed to look gleeful, but only if you are rolling in bills or swimming in coins like Scrooge McDuck.

Because while clutching money, it’s very important to have your best poopyface forward. You’re also allowed to look gleeful, but only if you are rolling in bills or swimming in coins like Scrooge McDuck.

And to be fair, quite a bit of the time, the men were also eating money. But somehow when I type in “greedy woman,” I get food as much of the time as money. Seriously, suddenly there’s a ton of this:

"Young fat woman eating sundae"

“Young fat woman eating sundae”

It’s almost like food and the ability to get pleasure from it is a currency in Stock Photo Women Land. Jeez.

"fat woman with many doubts"

“Fat woman with many doubts”

I hear you, Fat Woman. I have many doubts about this whole situation as well.

 

“Prodigal,” for the record, turned up a lot of pictures of the prodigal son story from the Bible. Embarrassing confession: I thought for years that “prodigal” meant “lost” because of that story. Nope, “prodigal” means “recklessly wasteful,” which is why when I typed in “prodigality,” I got pictures of moldy food and money going down the drain. I guess “The Return of the Prodigal Son” sounds better than “the return of my asshole brother who spent all of Dad’s money”?

street-drain-9694324

Next up: The Wrathful and Sullen!
Spoilers: It’s arguably the most metal of the circles. \m/

 

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