Or, Dr Essai has been called Mr Sunshine for good reason
Dr Essai, as his friends will attest, tends toward a melancholic, occasionally saturnine outlook. Where others shrug at daily life’s inanities and insults, he finds it impossible to be blithe in the face of the unrelenting dumbness of it all.
The doctor broods.
Pace Dante, recently Dr Essai has been brooding on an update to the esteemed poet’s nine circles of hell. The result may be less than a foundation for epic verse, but at least he feels better.
The First Circle of Hell
A kitchen eternally stocked with box suppers—pilaf, couscous, risotto—from which all the spice packets have been removed.
The Second Circle
A sound chamber with loudspeakers playing a tape loop: Your call is important to us… Your call is important to us… Your call is important to us… For a change of pace, Saturday is ’80s Rock Night: Loverboy, Kansas, Styx, Night Ranger, Toto, sometimes a special Journey marathon. On Sunday nights, dazed elderly men in misbuttoned sweaters stumble about, cell phones in their pockets repeating Proceed to the route…proceed to the route…proceed to the route…
The Third Circle
A reading room stocked only with Foucault, Derrida, Butler, Fanon, Baudrillard, Barthes, and Lacan, and populated by pallid thin-lipped graduate students who speak of “the glories of interpretation,” “cathecting the negative valence,” and “the literature of the subaltern.” Signifiers to the left, signified to the right, please. Front tables reserved for The Other.
The Fourth Circle
The entire anarchist population of Portland, Oregon, exchanging meaningful looks and muttering, “Fucking Starbucks, man…”
The Fifth Circle
Sophomore year of high school.
The Sixth Circle
A massive academic conference at which a thousand humanities scholars have been given hand-held microphones with no instruction as to how to use them. There are no AV techs in sight. Or worse, 30 AV techs are working on the problem.
The Seventh Circle
Two chambers. In one, an eternal Grateful Dead drum circle, which pauses only to allow participants to say, “If Jerry were here, he’d be so jamming with us, dude.” In the other, tables laden with grain and soy foods from many lands, free refills of apple juice, and folk music played by earnest white people in a caring, supportive, non-judgmental environment.
The Eighth Circle
A writers’ workshop on creative journaling, therapeutic poetry, and healing through fiction, conducted in a caring, supportive, non-judgmental environment.
The Ninth Circle
A caring, supportive, non-judgmental environment.