Untitled #190

7:00 AM

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #190, 1989
I saw deep down in the fosse people immersed in filth that seemed to drain from human privies. Searching it with my eyes I saw one there whose head was so befouled with [merda], you couldn't tell which one he was - layman or cleric.
- Inferno, Canto XVIII

Recently, phrases like "binders full of women", "47%", and the overnight popularity of an unemployed Big Bird have entered America's lexicon as well as it's trending hashtags. To the tune of Biden's chuckles, the presidential debates have raged on. Jumping from the subject of Libya to job creation to abortion, the debates have generated discussion as well as funny internet memes. For the first time, the antics are streamed live through Youtube  as well as broadcast on TV. Now, those without televisions or those who prefer to finish their calculus homework while listening to Romney reiterate his 5 point plan can be involved in the pathological mania.

Although the presidential debates can be informative, those watching have usually already picked sides. That decreases the quality of debating done, as candidates regurgitate their campaign promises with memorized talking points. Clash or direct refutation is non-existent. To a debater, this is incredibly frustrating. To Dante Alighieri, this is typical.

There's a special place in hell for panderers and seducers. Specifically, the ninth Bolgia in the eighth circle. There, all the karma built up from telling lies and half-truths come back to the deceivers in the form of human excrement. Although Dante's prose had the intentions of rivaling Virgil and Homer, he isn't immune to succumbing to a dirty joke here or there. It's especially telling when Dante slips from his flowery Italian to the coarser, more sarcastic vernacular. When listening to this passage being read aloud, I immediately recalled a grotesque photograph I ran into at the Museum of Modern Art. While running away from a room displaying Cindy Sherman's terrifying series on clowns, I came upon a gallery exhibiting her 1989 series titled Sex. With the cringe-worthy red noses and cartoon lips still etched into my psyche, I slowly realized with dread that I had escaped one frightening room just to find another. The audio recording describing the photographs told me in a cool British accent that Cindy Sherman went to great lengths to obtain real feces and vomit for her scenes. My own stomach began to roil as I beheld human skin spotted with blood and sores surrounded by mountains of junk and refuse. Untitled #190 ranks as one of the most disgusting.

What strikes me the most about this photograph that reminds me so much of the political debates is the pair of baby blues staring out at you. Those eyes could be the eyes of a politician we see every few weeks on television, buried under layers of his own lies. Even as he gasps for breath, his own deception chokes him, composed of nothing but digested facts. Dante and Cindy Sherman both draw a conclusion that I hope American voters across the nation discover for themselves; no matter how pretty a presidential candidate can talk, we must remember that, in the end, they're full of it.

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