Yesterday, in the hospital cafeteria, a TV appeared overnight. Not placed to be seen by sitting patrons, it's sole mission seems to provide a soothing layer of background noise. I ask the cashier why its suddenly here. She shrugs. "Like Jell-O, hospital administrators love TVs." 

In the University of New Mexico Hospital's Surgery Waiting Room, the TV was aimed at anxiety waiting to know if loved ones had survived, or to go under the knife themselves. Tense bodies chattered in two languages, The Gates of Hell is neither the illustration of Dante's Divine Comedy nor a fantastic image of the Last Judgment. It is the artist's profound meditation on the condition of man. Hell is not Hades, nor Lucifer's realm. Hell is in the torments, the unfulfilled desires of the human soul to blot out the media's graven prattle. Others stared up hymn-eyed at ecstatic contestants and celebrities selling themselves along with pills, deodorants, and exercise machines, on the dithering screen above.

This morning, the barbed smell of ammonia where voices had squawked before.


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