We are strangers yet you take me inside of you. There are gates to hell scattered around the Mediterranean world, caves that release noxious fumes, ruined temples and places such as the Piazza Statuto where a gate to hell is born out of violence rather than found. When we stop searching for it does it shrivel away? This mythological topos extends beyond a single tradition. Lake Avernus, where Aeneas descends into Hades, was the site of sumptuous villas and the Lacus Curtius, a small pool in the Roman Forum, was a gate to hell around which millions lived and traded, something to be passed by without fear. These gates were not infectious but rather something lived with, where the earth did not disappear from the human realm. There is another way to inhabit. Carbon dioxide is a gas that settles. It hides in the folds of the earth, in holes and valleys waiting for its prey. Strabo visited the Ploutonion, a cave temple in Hierapolis, describing it as "full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell." Michel Tournier, in Friday, or the Other Island, retells the story of Robinson Crusoe. As Robinson explores the island Speranza he finds a cave at its center. At first he simply stores supplies there, hidden wealth, black powder, gold and salted meat. One day he enters into Speranza, down the chute. He finds mineral papillae and a second stomach. The darkness encapsulates rather than dissolves. The air is warm. “There were stony nipples and protuberances, mineral mushrooms, petrified sponges.” “A damp metallic smell.” He finds a cave within a cave, a nook whose “walls were perfectly smooth but curiously shaped, like the interior of a mold designed to fashion some very complex object. The object, Robinson suspected, was his own body.” Later on, Robinson finds a quillaia tree. Its bark, right where its two limbs split, is soft and downy. Robinson succumbs to the “vegetable way,” laying his penis between the branches. This liaison lasts for months until one day the tree bites back; a spider had made this crevasse its home as well. The act of going inside, of gestating and fucking the island at the same time, of finding love in a tree and a mother in a cave, of entering and exiting, of hell being the before-life, a return to the primal, of the underground as the everyday, as the act of going inside becomes the act of going outside. There are certain types of relations that can only exist in the cave. It is not about the light of day, or its absence. It is about weight and time, gravity and carbon dioxide, the way the stratum enfold you. Mining hiding burrowing tunneling crawling dripping accreting sheltering- Finding love in a tree and a mother in a cave, of entering and being entered. There are many types of mouths in the world.

enter>>