Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Elmer Gantry and Inferno

Odd juxtaposition of movie and book to check out. I enjoyed Elmer Gantry. There was the smug edge to it of a hollywood screenwriter, but Burt Lancaster was so good in the role that I forgave it its cheap shots. He was terrific. I think I also have a soft spot for womanizers. As far as sins go, I'm completely empathetic. I didn't get the hardwiring in me that delights in killing my fellow man or stealing to get something for nothing. But as far as being enraptured with the opposite sex, it's almost not fair that it's a sin.

Inferno was a fun compelling read. Science fiction writers Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven took us on a return trip through Dante's seven circles of hell. I didn't read the Divine Comedy - I only knew the circles through summary descriptions. So going through on a narrative was - like I stated - a compelling read. What was also interesting was the prioritization of sins. For example, the violent people - which I hold to be particular awful sinners - were in the fifth circle in the lake of boiling blood. But liars and panderers were down in the sixth circle in a river of flowing human excrement. That means, kill someone without repenting -- get the 5th. Be a lying telemarketer without repenting -- get an even rougher ticket.

It was also amusing to read the shot they took at an unnamed writer (I'm guessing, ol' L'ron Hubbard) they happened to find down there for creating his own religion. I enjoyed this Niven/Pournelle collaboration as much as any of them.


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