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  • Writer's pictureR Cipolletta

e33: Invoking Dante

The Detective (It_8) 07.11.20

Filling the Gaps

Subliminal Context:

As time is ticking by, I found myself feeling concerned that I had not ironed out a concrete cover-to-cover storyline for this character and the surrounding game. As a writer, I have a habit of layering on symbolism to aid in idea generation, so immediately defaulted to that when I felt stuck for ideas.

I spent several hours brainstorming, as I've done in past instances of being stuck, with both my mother and my partner, and compiled the notes (below) on various prompts and ideas for context. I liked the idea of playing around with religious metaphors, mostly because of the strong influence that such practices have had in my life, growing up roman catholic and spending most of my living memory in an catholic, all-girls, secondary school. Said this, I still had an overall desire to stay away from cliché's.

Exploring a few different faiths by discussing them with those who have practiced/do practice them, including Islam (a completely alien one for me), was interesting primarily from an analytical perspective. I found digging around for different caveats and obscure forms of interpretation to be very rewarding overall, but nonetheless ended up walking away from the session with a headache. Where I used to find overanalyses like this to be the bread and butter of my creation process, now I suddenly find it exhausting and stressful - not to mention difficult to concisely explain to strangers. I got so frustrated trying to keep hold of all of the interweaving threads when trying to use my mother as inspiration like I have done successfully in the past, that I found myself wishing I could become my own audience - blissfully unaware of any further meaning unless stumbling upon it by accident.

It's a little disorienting for me, suddenly changing so much as a writer and artist in such a short period, but I feel very optimistic about it, and want to explore it further. So I've set myself a limit to this form of research. I decided to walk away with 3 things from it and 3 things only:

(1) A single religious piece of context to reference overall.

(2) A single, personalised interpretation of this context to weave into my work.

(3) One idea from both of the above to carry into a final piece, thereby illustrating my ability to embed subliminal context without popping an artery in my skull.

And here are the decisions I made in regards to these points:

(1) Dante's Inferno, for its importance in my culture (roman Catholicism and Italian literature). Note: not Purgatory as the overuse of the 7 Deadly Sins in mainstream media would negate the subtle effect I have been working to achieve with my storytelling.

(2) From the 7th to the 6th Circle of Hell (Inferno). The idea of arrogance and ego being a repressed character trait in the Detective was immediately fascinating to me from a psychological standpoint. I like the idea of her being this imperfect person, who is so concerned with being sensible, that they lash out from the strict, almost puritanical, self-imposed rules of their own lifestyle with fits of sudden, needless violence against these animals - violence that she excuses, in typical religious fashion, as 'necessary' to maintain the ecosystem she is inhabiting. It works primarily to give a gritty palpability to the person (unbent by the glorification that a lot of story protagonists are affected by), but also as a commentary on the restrictions of faith and culture that I know all too well. To this effect I have adapted Dante and Virgil's journey through the 6th and 7th circles (wrath to violence), into the Detective's journey backward from her self-righteous, controlled violence against the cervids, to the uncontrolled, explosive wrath, as she is completely overtaken by this gradually approaching perceived threat. This will function as my interpretation of the text and, coupled with the symbolism of the Ouroboros mentioned in earlier entries, will solidify the idea that its her self-imposed constraints that are and will be the ultimate cause of her undoing. This also raises the possibility of dissociative identity/multiple personality disorder functioning as a human explanation for these otherwise supernatural-seeming events - the idea that she spent so much time suppressing all instinct that it manifested as an alternate personality, who is now tormenting her with her own actions, which it bars from her conscious memory.

(3) Turning the Hound into the Minotaur. When leaving the 6th circle, Virgil and Dante note the appearance of a minotaur that 'chews on its own flesh'. I decided to take this to be the detail I carry into the final piece because it is absolutely perfect as a transitional event between the two circles. The Uncanny Hound, which I have long believed should be the beginning of the end in terms of the spiral of her mental faculties, would do perfectly as the final case which took her backwards from violence to wrath. So I designed a concept where, instead of watching him stand unmoving but otherwise okay, she would instead find her dog in a trance-like state, having ripped off its own limb - thereby 'chewing on its own flesh'.

As a slight addition to this point: I also found the concept of the suicide forest (see below in the Dante section), lined itself neatly with my already-existing Flying Moose concept and prompted the following quick sketch, to the same effect:

I'm not sure exactly how or why the deer would have committed suicide! But I love the sombre imagery, and how my ideas are tying into one another.

There are a few more ideas mixed in, amongst the brainstorming (below), but these are the most important ones, in my opinion, and those I carried forward the most. It is noteworthy that, at this point, I am writing this entry retrospectively, due to having shifted my priorities onto drawing over obsessive documentation - whereas the Notes below, as with all entries, were taken 'live'.

On an unrelated note, I realised that captioning every story-related post as The Detective (It_#) was getting redundant. Including it is helpful to differentiate which posts are research and which are practical application of information, but I've retired it to a lower priority title to stop my main blog page from looking like a glitch. I may go back and change earlier entries to this system.




  • If it's purgatory - do I want the seven deadly sins? Imply Dante...? Bit cliché

  • What about 1 sin?

  • Whether it's purgatory or carbon monoxide, I can use Dante to help inform my stories. Look at punishments for Pride, maybe Wrath and Violence, and weave them in, in cervid form.

  • I don't want cliché, but I may be able to lead people toward Dante by having 7 cases. Is it too obvious? Wait according to Wiki there are nine circles of hell? 9 cases is a lot...

  • Also not every deer incident has to be story beats. Maybe a whole bunch of deer art scattered in there as filler (to then turn into Polaroids) is a better idea, with very few big story beats...

  • What about the number of cases corresponding to the number of the circle of hell pride is in? Does it have its own circle? Can't find it in the wiki.

  • Is she Pride?

  • The circles of hell have within them rings of suffering... maybe my story beats can be the number of rings inside the circle of my choosing... very obscure... subtle use of Dante, for once.

  • Interesting: the 7 deadly sins are all present mainly in Purgatory... not Inferno. Interesting.


  • Mo consistently has a problem with her running at the end - feeling like there's not enough justification for her to run.

  • Killing her dog is not enough - that would lead to confusion not fear.

  • It needs to be an event that takes her from Fight to Flight. Noises... etc

  • Killing her dog from a perceived hallucination would make her deviate responsibility - "something is out there that made me kill my dog, it wasn't me" <-- justifying her violence.

  • The dog is a good representation of the violence sin, and the inherent flaws of the character as she removes herself from the responsibility. Therefore the dog needs to die to illustrate this but not as the final act.

  • (SIDE NOTE: reference the staircase... one Polaroid, no context *wink*)

  • Ten Commandments (with herself as God of the cervids) // Ten Cases that Crack the God - the things that outrage her. The Entity violates these (subtly). DO THEY WORK?

  • ^^ 1) Thou shall not have other Gods before me -- She is the predator, disguising her possessiveness as concern for the forest ecosystem.

  • ^^ 2) Thou shall not make idols -- could this relate to the disembodied pieces of the cervid in The Flying Moos?? Totem Poll of Moose

  • ^^ 3) Thou shall not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vein --

  • ^^ 4) Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy -- An interpretation of the Sabbath is her rest period. What does she ritualistically do that's her 'holy time' that can be disrupted. The entity disrupts her time of rest. Family visits on her birthday (niece that gave her the band-aid):: a birthday photograph of the family + a text message saying "don't come" + an event that distracts from this message to make it subtle. E.g blood drips from ceiling onto phone (something weird on the ceiling) only those who read the obscure phone and stuffs, realise the Sabbath.

  • ^^ 5) Honour your father and your mother --

  • ^^ 6) Thou shall not murder -- the deer coming up slaughter.

  • ^^ 7) Thou shall not commit adultery --

  • ^^ 8) Thou shall not steal -- her supplies are taken.

  • ^^ 9) Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour -- the Entity 'blames the dog' (a lonely footprint where there should not be one)

  • ^^ 10) Thou shall not covet --

  • Five Pillars of Islam (same as before - she is the hypothetical God)

  • ^^ 1) Declaration of Faith --

  • ^^ 2) Obligatory Prayer 5x p/d -- deer graze, which causes them to bow. Metaphor for the Islamic prayer? Would a deer refuse to graze?

  • ^^ 3) Compulsory Giving (yearly charity 2.5% of income) -- they give their lives annually to her? Peace on her birthday?? Thin connection here.

  • ^^ 4) Fasting (month of Ramadan) -- cannibalism counting as breaking the fast? Doesn't have to be food-related. Maybe for a month they behave in ways they haven't before, or don't behave in ways they should?

  • ^^ 5) Pilgrimage (Mecca) -- deer go to the watering hole/river, and she finds them there regularly for 'easy kills'. Shows off her questionable morals. Perhaps one day the riverside is trashed by the Entity and none of the animals arrive (shredded corpse in the water).

Dante's Inferno

  • 6th Circle (before Violence, Wrath) the Minotaur bites its own flesh.


  • RING 1: Violence Against Neighbours: "as they wallowed in blood during their lives, so they are immersed in the boiling blood forever, each according to the degree of his guilt" <-- a river of boiling blood in a circle, with deeper and shallower portions (sinners are scattered around to correspond to the the 'depth' of their sins) with centaurs shooting arrows at those who try to rise higher out of the blood than they're allowed.

  • Mo: what if she is not the God, but the entity is. And she is in a hypothetical Inferno due to her sins (punished for the degree of her violence against nature). Nature is purging her - forcing her to run. Mo feels like this is sufficient justification for her to run. The plotline could then be about her denying the signs of the forest that she ought to leave - searching for a logical explanation to all of these omens that she is being forced out...

  • RING 2: Violence Against Self: in this ring, those who died of suicide are turned into gnarled tree (far from their human appearance) and feasted upon by harpies. They are only allowed to speak when bleeding and in pain and their inhuman appearance is representing their self hatred - dried and infertile. "They are the image of the self-hatred which dries up the very sap of energy and makes all life infertile". These sinners get no second chance after the Final Judgement (irredeemable for their sin) and have their own corpses hanging from their branches.

  • ^^ Also in this ring are those who damage themselves through excessive, monetary spending, and are ultimately chased and mauled by rabid dogs ("bitches") and, in their attempts to escape, do more harm to the motionless suicides. Interesting.

  • ^^^ This is interesting to me in particular for the connection between our character and the forest... could she have died of suicide and ended up in this hell? Bleeding trees = the Antlered Tree.

  • RING 3: Violence Against God, Art, and Nature: this circle is a desert of burning sand with flakes of fire raining from the sky. Those who sin by blasphemy (insult/contempt against God) lie still on their backs on the sand. Those who sin of Sodomy (bestiality/sterile sexual acts against Nature) run in circles on the scorching floor. Those wo sin of Usury (monetary/unethical extortion of other's misfortune against Art) crouch huddled and weep. The Usurers are branded with a heraldic device which is emblazoned on a leather purse carried around their neck, which indicates they are from prominent Florentine families. This plane ultimately is flooded by the boiling blood river, as is the suicide forest.

  • The 7th circle ends in a waterfall that leads to the 8th (Fraud).


  • Two types of wrathful punishment: active wrath, who fight amongst themselves in the slime of the stinking river Styx, and passive wrath, who lie beneath the surface, floating limp, suffocated so much so by the slime (and their own wrath) that they are unable to fight.

  • ^ The Detective would be passive wrath for most of the story as it is a more logical approach and consistent with the behaviour of a hunter who patiently tracks and sets traps for its prey. But as she devolves into insanity she may become more actively aggressive. Perhaps show a scene in a tub where she is under the water early on, to represent this, vs a later scene where she fights over water with something (the tub could also turn to blood for the 7th ring's BOILING BLOOD metaphor - violence against neighbours).

- R Cipolletta



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