I had lovely holiday travels at the end of last month, but there is one event that was particularly noteworthy: I discovered a previously unknown chapter of The Divine Comedy.
Where I found it is hardly important, so I won’t waste your time describing the location. The contents were far more interesting than the expedition.
Much of it was illegible, so I can’t really say where it falls in the sequence of the narrative, but it seems to describe a heretofore unnoticed circle of Hell, a circle comprised of thousands of cubicles, in each of which one of the damned kneels in exasperation before a blinking device that resembles the Medieval version of a Hewlett-Packard printer. Our narrator’s guide pityingly lays out the fate of these helpless denizens: each is condemned to feed one sheet of paper at a time into the impervious machine, watch it jam in the rollers, fish it out, and replace it with a new sheet.
Dante was curious to note a number of composers among the accursed. When he asked, he was told that each of them had completed a 100-page composition, printed 99 of the pages with little incident, and was now finding it impossible to get the final page of the piece to feed properly.
For each sheet in the course of an eternity of printer-feeding, handfuls of hair were ripped from the heads of the damned, only to be magically replaced with a fresh, bristling mane, torn away as the next sheet twisted and crumpled. Such a weeping and gnashing of teeth!
When asked the crime of these unfortunate souls, the narrator was stopped by a single word: