A Beastly Comedy Canto 1.8

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The first canto where the topic is truly controversial, and I did have some trouble trying to get the tone right. Sexuality in general tends to be a sensitive subject. Who is being judged, and who has the right to judge? I have not revealed why exactly the people in the Underworld have ended up there. It’s more important to describe the inner condition of the person rather than someone else’s morality.

Here the idea is not that sex would be bad. Rather, I decided to explore the idea that when certain acts are taken as signifiers of freedom, therein lies the danger that someone is taken advantage of. Freedom is not proved by one particular action in all possible circumstances, but when people believe it is, that may mean becoming subject to manipulation. Thus the topic is not really sexuality but rather our notions of freedom, and how they too may become a shackle. Kant’s categorical imperative is wrong because one action cannot be made into a universal law, as there are no universal circumstances.

The sorrow described thus does not come from the things she has done, and she vehemently opposes the idea. It’s about being taken advantage of, the sadness and self-reproach involved that people may be stuck in, bitterness and the desire to lay blame somewhere. The narrator is an observer staying quite detached in the situation. It’s not so much about what is right, but about how fluid our assessments of reality are.

I’m still not sure whether I got the point across, because this topic is such a minefield to navigate. And ultimately this canto, like so many others, is about loneliness, the lack of connection to other people and to one’s own feelings and desires.