Anatomy of Hate Literature: The Poets Descent into Hell

By thinking evil, you can enter hell, but beware, because a poet's descent into hell is met with Dante's interdiction at Hell's gates:

            "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." 

Your mind will enter a world of the gutter, of dirt, disgust, nausea, and the grotesque. Medieval poets and artists began to express their innermost fears, especially the fear of hell, a place that eschatologically promised eternal loss, pain, and damnation. By the 16th century the concept of hell was moved from its conventional place at the physical centre of the earth to the mind. Christopher Marlowe in Dr Faustus tells us                                                                              

"Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed In one self place, for where we are is hell, And where hell is, must we ever be." 

As such, the mind became a place of pandemonium, an inner hell in which a tormented mind is subject to psychopathological urges or the chaos of a disturbed mind. By the 18th and 19th century, the psychological concept of hell had been changed once again: the actual hells were the prisons, madhouses, and the slums and back alleys of vice. The transformed dystopic genre persuaded the audience to create their own fear and apprehension, enabling their minds to think the evil and enter the hell. In the 20th century, Freud started to coin new clinical metaphors and literary topography, for hell. In the film What Dreams May Come (we find scenes from the nine levels of hell of Dante's Inferno). 

Kurtz in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness says:

             "The horror! The horror"

The contrivers and peddlers of nightmares and hell continue to invade our dreams. The dystopian imagination of the nightmare attempts to produce the shock effects of perverse impulses that lie beneath the civilized veneer. Under the surface lies the nightmarish realm of the macabre, horror, terror, violence, crime, and cruelty, viscerally intended to create a chill in the spine and to curdle the blood. Edvard Munch's The Scream artistically renders existential horror. Unlike Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (watch Hitchcock trailer), with its one central murder, the trend in recent horror films is to sadistically kill off as many characters as possible within the running time. The animated Disney film Beauty and the Beast and its earlier, darker version La Belle et La Bête, speaks of the dream-like transformations. The zombie appears in the film Night of the Living Dead, which suggests the impending end of civilization and a zombie apocalypse.

In Hatred and Civility: The Antisocial Life in Victorian England, Christopher Lane finds that there are pleasures in hating. This antisocial behaviour is found in characters in novels from writers as different as Robert Louis Stevenson, Charlotte Bronte, and Dostoevsky. Misanthropy is hatred of life. Hatred lurks below civility in Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde .Mr. Hyde is a repressed character who surfaces in the misanthropic night to unleash his rage against a repressed and repressive society. Reportedly, the character of Mr Hyde was first conceived by Stevenson in a dream.

Human destructiveness may involve paranoia. Freud linked paranoia with narcissism. However, traumatic experiences may play a role. Paranoids often have fears of intrusion and humiliation, which in turn may trigger their infliction of persecution and torture. Iago in Othello and Salieri in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus  are characters whose dirty work of envy and revenge are unsuspected and based on psychologically imagined rather than physical injuries. The narcissistic desire to injure and to harm underscores the politics of malice and hatred.

George Orwell's 1984 describes the daily two minutes of hate in which the society of Oceania must watch geopolitical propaganda films depicting the party's enemies. The images that feed our hatred of others are readily visible in the Middle East, in the Balkans, and in Northern Ireland -to name a few places. However, most hatreds remain repressed, mainly due to the deference system of political correctness. Hatreds are then relegated to the communal dreamscreen.

Dystopian visions ask us to wake up from the dehumanized hell of history. Such examples of dystopias as Huxley's Brave New World, Orwell's Animal Farm, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon express the fear of totalitarian dictatorship, visions of societies in the throes of a collective nightmare. Underworld, the dystopian novel by Don DeLillo, presents a world of international capital, transnational media, hostile takeovers and electronic sex. Individuals and communities are unprotected amidst a high-tech bombardment more sinister than the nuclear threat. Skin and mind have become flayed, exposing the insides to penetrating and manipulating electronic signals leaving the individual feeling excoriated, invaded and violated.

Many dreams sent to the International Institute for Dream Research speak of such dystopian visions and experiences. The literary landscape of these dreams and nightmares show us the planet as a depersonalized place of hate, prejudice, alienation, crime and destructiveness. A summary of some of these dreams can be found in the article World Almanac of Dream Vision: Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.