Dissecting the Afterlife Part 2: Hell

devil-pitchfork-hiIf the Devil punishes sinners, does that make him a good guy?

I’m taking a massive shot in the dark here, but this article continues up on my postulations regarding what awaits us in the after-life, good or bad. In part 2, we will explore some various concepts of Hell propositioned by movies, our religious leaders, and a few theories of my own. Remember kids, there are no “educated” guesses on this topic, since we’re all just creating the myths as we go along. Popular media is as valid as any source, so reach your own conclusions.

What Hell Looks Like:

Wouldn’t it be funny if the Lake of Fire that they’re so adamant about avoiding was like what a mountain vista is to a vacation resort? “Come to Hell, SEE the burning rain of FIRE; it’s beautiful in July. We’ve got volcanos and plummeting waterfalls of Doom!….”  The phrase “Hellish Landscape” is thrown around a lot, but it ultimately boils down to two categories: either Mordor or Kansas. The Mordor view has crags, crumbling earth, lava spilling out every which way, a real clusterfuck if you’re looking to not be bounced around or have sulfuric ash stinging your eyes. With this viewpoint, I’m imagining Los Angeles, but on one of Jupiter’s moons, also featuring none other than the talented Slash to melt your face off with a demonic choir of guitar riffs. Contrastingly, Kansas is bleak and empty, and…. yeah. That about sums it up.

In my mind, Hell is actually a wrecked metropolis of agonizing screams, but with the social ill-fittedness of a piss-smelling shanty-town nestled in the raping-est part of the uncivilized Ozarks. I’m the opposite of “home” when I walk amidst towering skyscrapers as one of the teeming, unwashed masses being shuttled about in public transit to wait in line at a government courthouse (maybe a DMV), so if you add the leery glares from hillbillies in overalls I believe you can nail Hell’s “vibe” pretty specifically. I’m imagining a version of Houston with smashed windows and basements flooded with blood (instead of water), a bevy of carrion-eaters swooping down and plucking up naked individuals who flee in terror. If you can picture yourself being a french fry on Roseanne Barr’s hamburger plate, you may begin to imagine the horror I’m attempting to depict. Or Hell could literally be War as the phrase goes – gray trenches of panicked Germans shouting gibberish over the rattle of gunfire, nothing being able to stop the mighty Barr-zilla as she wades through a beautifully scenic lavascape.

Kansas Sign

Some hooligan removed the air quotes around "Welcome to".

What You Are in Hell:

Michael Keaton’s best role EVER was the snorting pervert from Beetlejuice, and if I’ve learned anything from that movie, it’s that I don’t want to die by decapitation, drowning, getting run over by a bus, stabbed, shot, hanged, or dismembered in any other fashion. Why? Because your very spirit may appear as your body did when  you met your final moments. Although the movie’s puppetry was worthy of the 90’s best and really drove the dark humor and sight gags, the actual concept is disconcerting, as I don’t really feel like carrying my head under one arm for all eternity.

What seems a bit more plausible is that you become some immortal, regenerating being. This makes sense because psychological torture only gets you so far. Physical torture seems to be where it’s at, and if a person can’t/doesn’t pace themselves, they may get torn up pretty bad pretty quick. To last for infinity, one is going to have to be able to endure the tears, breaks, clawings, and maimings…. and to bounce back. Whether Hell is on some infernal clock, where a new day brings renewed health, or if the little whipping demons can manually restore your limbs, I wouldn’t be overly surprised if we turn out to be stringy, naked individuals with a low tolerance for pain and Wolverine’s superhuman ability to pull ourselves back together after the most grueling of punishments. Hopefully, Hell hasn’t been paying attention to the dog and cock-fighting that goes on up here, otherwise a select breed of our race will be kenneled and used to fight each other in the world’s worst battle arena. We may end up as some dark lord’s pets with razor blades strapped to our legs. Who knows?

What Hell Provides:

Eternal torment. That’s a pretty sweet deal if you only paid for a “weekend” torment groupon and they threw the rest of it in for gratis. That’s some pure, uncut shit, right? You don’t exist up until the moment you get created on Earth, you commit a minor/major atrocity, and get dumped in Hell for all eternity, forever tormented because of those mistakes you made, however brief. You’re almost better off not existing in the first place…. or even dying young before you have a chance to step on some deity’s fragile toes of morality.

But I digress. If we’re to believe Dante’s Inferno, Hell is an inverted pyramid of damnation, each level reserved for specific sins. Depending on your offense, you might blow around in an endless storm or even push giant dung balls around forever. Early versions of Satan definitely lacked imagination. A more popularized theory of late equates to “personalized packages” of Hell, where demons will come up with ironic punishments based on your life. Ate more food than God deems worthy? You might be force-fed glazed donuts for all eternity (though this backfired when Homer Simpson received his penitence). A rapist may be ravaged by a pack of wild dogs or something similar, you get the idea. My biggest question for this is: How ironic is the punishment if you’re a one-time offender? If you killed someone once, accidentally, and it was out of self-defense or something, are you stalked by killer beanie-babies (you collected too many) for the rest of your days or does Hell mix and match the different scenarios? Does Hell have a schedule of punishments, or is it deemed more appropriate to surprise the victim on a daily basis? Would it be more excruciating if they never switched up the daily regimen?


Is it weird that I hear Ben Stein narrating this scene?

If I was running Hell (and I’m not), you’d think that the staff would be comprised of the most filthy and bloodthirsty throng of criminals and demons possible. With this in mind, Hell might have done away with boring boulder-pushing or “irony” (pronounced in sing-song iron-EEE). For Hell to achieve the pinnacle of brutality, these fucking deranged and depraved creatures would be given complete control over what they do to you. I’m thinking more in line with John Constantine’s version, with meandering lost souls and roving hordes of creatures looking to inflict bodily harm. There may be no order to any of it, no “law” to govern the unsolicited and primitive impulses being exacted on the damned. Kind of like North Korea, but with more internet access.

How to Get to Hell:

It’s been said by select individuals that blowing up a good portion of God’s creation, detonating civilians and yourself, will guarantee a spot in a Heaven-simulacrum. It’s been said that a man is presented with 72 virgins for this deed, when it actually seems likely that not only will 72 virgins not last an eternity, but that the acts of arson, explosions, and mass death are better suited for someplace…. warmer. I mean, c’mon, God stamps out sections of his own terrarium in pretty elaborate ways, so I’m pretty sure he doesn’t need us to do it. Considering that, killing and pillaging what He created seems like a surefire way to acquire a one-way ticket to hell.

Additionally, God’s acts have been described as vengeful and a little…. prideful to say the least. If you worship false idols (things not God) or use His name in vain (God damn it), you’re directly violating the 10 commandments. But little did you know that everything you can “go to Hell” for can’t be summarized in 10 “thou shalt nots”, nor can it it all fit on two stone tablets for that matter. Hell, even with creative interpretation you can find loopholes in the only concise document that we have to go by. “Honor thy father and thy mother” can conflict with direct commands if your parents turn out to be murderers or even adulterers right? “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it Holy” is pretty clear…. but how do you BREAK that commandment exactly, and is it as damning as “thou shalt not covet”…. which may or may not extend to wanting someone’s piece of bread if you are starving?

Ultimately, discussing how to get to Hell is a moot point. So many damnable offenses supposedly exist. Anyways, if you live in Kansas (or Mordor), aren’t an innocent child, swear regularly or…. oh yeah, have masturbated, wish ill on people, make fun of the handicapped, cut people off in traffic, think your parents are fallible, don’t even know the names of your neighbors, vote republican (or vote at all), dress your dog in clothes, frequent a starbucks more than twice a week, watch any form of reality television, crave any sort of consumer goods, find Dane Cook hilarious, or file your yearly income taxes without help, you’re likely already in Hell or destined to end up there.


Unless those point towards elevators, the afterlife is a lateral move.

Bottom Line:

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t? None of us can truly predict what is to become of us after the last remaining brain cells discharge their chemical spark. It’s easy to throw around words describing ABSOLUTE damnation and ABSOLUTE bliss; they’re just words after all. What is infinitely more difficult is to IMAGINE the actuality. One person’s bliss may not match another’s definition, and thus, I think it’s entirely possible for someone to get to hell and go…. “I thought it would be worse.” After all is said and done and I’ve racked my mind to adopt a religious viewpoint, to take on another perspective which is ultimately used to motivate hearts for good and not evil, I have personal issues attempting to use my creativity in a realistic fashion.

I believe in neither Heaven nor Hell, but it is certainly a fun exercise to think about the What Ifs. I mean, what can be more inspiring than to imagine the embodiment of pure ecstasy or pure suffering? To all of those still on the fence, it’s okay to remain there, at least in my opinion. You’re more than welcome to take your time with one of the very biggest of life’s decisions, which is: “To whom do you send your prayers?”

I personally recommend having fun in life, but always trying not to deny another person’s ability to do the same…. y’know, just in case Someone or Something happens to be watching. Be good to each other, but loosen up a little bit…. just a little bit.

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