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John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Circle of Hell

Two Foxes

I AM NO ANTHROPOLOGIST, but I have observed a particular social phenomenon too many times not to recognize it when I see it. I have been there, studied it, analyzed it, and classified it. My non-anthropological associate and misplaced daughter, Sophie has even given it a name. Like I and Sophie, you will know when you are there, but you will never know the anguish of being the subject/object of the Circle of Hell.

After learning about the Circle of Hell, I am certain you will want to avoid it at all costs. I can tell you how you can do just that. I have developed a simple strategy that actually works. Quite simply, you must never under any circumstances be the first to leave a social gathering. It's OK to be the second to depart, but be forewarned, you must not be the first.

If you are the first to leave, it will be your judgment day. The lights will slowly dim and eventually be replaced by the menacing flicker of candles licking the darkness. The chairs, which were arranged in amicable little groupings conducive to friendly chitchat while you were there, will start to rearrange on their own until they reconfigure into a circle. Their formerly pacific and lighthearted occupants will find their way back to them, but now they look just a little different, maybe a little haggard. The lips of these formerly gentle people are no longer turned up in smiles; their brows are harshly knit. Thus, the Circle of Hell convenes. What's that? You were the first to leave. Well, then, unfortunately for you, it is your judgment day.

Remember that charming, funny, easygoing young doctor with the buzz cut, grey tee shirt and cargo shorts.? He was nice, right? We-elllllll not after you le-eeeave. No way. No more Mr. Nice Guy now that you are absent. He is so on to you. He committed everything you told him to memory while he was studying your body language from head to toe. In your absence he is dissecting your conversation word by word, pointing out every discrepancy and comparing his noted inconsistencies with those noted by other guests. He told everyone that he was too polite to even mention the subject of your outfit and hair, but that if he were to mention it, it would not be favorable. Others were not that polite. How about that tall, slim pretty young lady with the wispy brown hair and dazzling white smile.

You remember her, the one wearing her pet fox around her neck and the ladybug jewelry? She was so friendly and interesting–lots of fun to talk to. I believe I overheard her saying to you "Let's do lunch." Well, after you left, she's having you for lunch, savoring you juicy tidbit by juicy tidbit. Hope you didn't give her too much information to work with. Didn't she tell you she thought it was charming and carefree of you to let your thong show? Suddenly, after you leave, she thinks it's not so charming at all and she's telling everyone in the throng you were wrong to show your thong.

That fashion plate who loved your shoes and asked if they were Manolos? Well, she is now asking "where in the world would someone find a pair of shoes that hideous–in some third world thrift shop for the fashion challenged?"

Do you understand? Fortunately, even you can evade the Circle of Hell. All you have to do is follow my advice and not be the first to leave. Then and only then, can you avoid being judged. It's as simple as that. You will still be little old you (and only you know what that actually is), but no one else will be able to judge you.

Warning: Do not be the first to leave this blog site. You'd be well advised to just keep going down the page reading all the posts. Repeat Warning: Do not be first to leave Depingo Ergo Sum. If you are, you will risk subjecting yourself to the virtual Circle of Hell. Yes, the Circle of Hell exists in cyberspace as well. You will probably have to stay online for the rest of your life and have meals brought in. You may as well do it right here on my blog. There are 67 posts to date and that should keep you busy for a while. You will not be missing out on anything in real life. I will continue observing life with a keen eye and will keep you posted. Thus you will not have to risk being called to account virtually and prematurely. So long as you stay on Depingo Ergo Sum, you will be safe–dum de dum daaaaa--from....... the.......virtual....... Circle of Hell.

Leave at your peril.

Paint on,


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  1. I read it and LOVE it, and of course you and I know never to be the first to leave a party.

  2. Hey! I do not wear thongs ... not anymore.

  3. You should. They would look good on you!

  4. I am loving your blog btw this is one is one of my faves!