Haunted America Essay

Haunted America Essay-37
That a tour of hell would end in a call to prayer indicates the problem — if it had been more elemental and troubling, I would have come out the other end in need of water or air or sedatives.Each room in Hell House could be considered a canto in the Commedia, particularly the Inferno, except that the idea of descent in Dante, the funneled shape of hell as you circle down into worse and worse sins, was ditched by Hell House in favor of a cosmologically flat canvas in which all sins were equally bad, and the entire trip instead resembled the morality plays and pageants put on for the feast of Corpus Christi in the fourteenth century.Like it or not, a haunted house is a sensual affair, more like sex than theology, and won’t survive too much abstract organization or the damping down of strangeness and intuition, of otherness or the mystery of skin or whatever.

That a tour of hell would end in a call to prayer indicates the problem — if it had been more elemental and troubling, I would have come out the other end in need of water or air or sedatives.Each room in Hell House could be considered a canto in the Commedia, particularly the Inferno, except that the idea of descent in Dante, the funneled shape of hell as you circle down into worse and worse sins, was ditched by Hell House in favor of a cosmologically flat canvas in which all sins were equally bad, and the entire trip instead resembled the morality plays and pageants put on for the feast of Corpus Christi in the fourteenth century.Like it or not, a haunted house is a sensual affair, more like sex than theology, and won’t survive too much abstract organization or the damping down of strangeness and intuition, of otherness or the mystery of skin or whatever.

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In other words, the argument of a haunted house ought to be aimed at the human body.

In that sense, it should be morally neutral, or neutralizing.

As a moral program, the schema for Hell House was linear, but as a physical structure, as architecture, it was anfractuous, like an intestine, twisting and turning, kinked here and there with knots, and the tour took you not so much down, as toward, an interior.

It wasn’t actually a house; it was more like visiting a sin zoo, strolling from room to room, watching the curious habits of fucked-up people.

I’m not so much talking about design or construction here as the religious arrangement of sins.

In that sense it stepped back from the Renaissance and the availability of perspective into the depthless stage of Everyman in the late Middle Ages., out November 11, confirms what his devoted readers have known all along: He is among America’s finest essayists.Slyly cumulative in their emotional power and inspiring in their moral insight, D’Ambrosio’s pieces jump from personal history to cultural deep-digging.A major failing of Hell House was simply that it wasn’t scary.Physical fear is more immediately threatening than the far-off rumored torments of damnation, and Hell House might have found a more effective model had it based itself on the annual hazing of pledges and cadets or the ordeal of grunts at a Marine Corps boot camp.In honor of Halloween, we’re running the book’s “Hell House” essay, in which D’Ambrosio writes about his visit to a Christian haunted house in Texas.Hell House Hell House is a ramshackle arrangement of buildings meant to depict in a literal and somewhat medieval way the vast potential for ending up eternally damned.There were even some especially short skinny ghouls no older than nine or ten or eleven who, relaxing between acts with their hoods off, came at me and the photographer, as we dawdled behind our group, and told us to go to hell, pointing the way. ” they kept saying, over and over, obviously enjoying a curse that, for the two-week run of Hell House, was officially sanctioned.As the tour went on it became clear to me that these ghouls were quite specifically the voice of conservative values, although at first it had seemed as if they were supposed to incarnate the devil himself.You were ushered through Hell House by ghouls in skull masks and black capes.Some of the ghouls wore tennis shoes and were obviously adolescent, and their taunting had a certain playground aspect that was really annoying and bratty.

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