It’s written on the gates of Hell, you’ve heard about it. Dante put it there, but he will tell you it was already there when he walked through the gate, the sign staring at him, him staring at the sign, his courage fading, though the writing endures, despite the age of the place, a pandemonium of odd scribblings, many of unknown origin and lost denotation, bar one which insists that the last warning is also the first, a devilish paradox whereby memory picks itself up by its own bootstraps, trying to make a living, in full knowledge that it is doomed to perish, just like everything else in the Underworld, as soon as Time starts cutting heads one by one, preventing the firing squad of funnily-named devils from getting into line and doing their own butchery.
Hell is a modern city, Ye Who Enter Here, just off Exit 1 – Netherbound, turning left, the sinister way, at the first roundabout, but certainly not the last, for who can walk straight when there is nowhere to go. The Infernal capital, welcome, Abandon Hope, population 1000 and rising, the busy shipping lanes scuttling the Malthusian catastrophe full fathom five, the cacodemonic metropolis of perfect town planning, circulation and division of labour, penalties and contrapassos, the El Paso del Sud, where things go south for all residents, without discrimination.
The P.A. system was demolished to install the digital board: Abandon hope, neon red, All Ye Who Enter Here, fluorescent green this time, to make you feel welcome, ready to party. Imagine a smoking cocktail in hand as you turn into the Faubourgs of Desolation. All Ye Who Enter, you can’t complain, you’ve come to the most inclusive town on the Southern Band, the all-inclusive resort of no final resorts, staffed and manned with care and dedication. Ye Enter Here, there is no there, you’ve long lost the luxury of freedom, options and deixis, that ship has sailed, and the local harbour is a one-way street, incoming traffic only.
A.H.A.Y.W.E.H – the flickering message on the board translated into every language, powered by Google translate, automatic language detection is on, so no-one can feel excluded. The first thing you see is a bit of text, and that is all you’ll ever read, abandon any hope of reading further, you’ve reached the end of the page, you keep scrolling down but the only way is up, and that is foreclosed to you, so you keep scrolling down frenetically but hopelessly.
There is no exit sign, no billboards on the side of the road, no traffic signs, though everyone follows the rules to a tee, moving counterclockwise in a roundabout without exists.