Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hell on earth

"Were a stranger to drop on a sudden into this world, I would show him, as a specimen of its ills, a hospital full of diseases, a prison crowded with malefactors and debtors, a field of battle strewed with carcasses, a fleet foundering in the ocean, a nation languishing under tyranny, famine, or pestilence. To turn the gay side of life to him, and give him a notion of its pleasures; whither should I conduct him? to a ball, to an opera, to court? He might justly think, that I was only showing him a diversity of distress and sorrow."
- David Hume (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion)

To which I would add the reflection that when writers and artists seek to depict what hell would be like they draw on human experiences with which we are already familiar. Heaven is more often described as beyond our imagining.