(A letter from the devil Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood)
My dear Wormwood,
It seems to me that you take a great many pages to tell a very simple story. The long and the short of it is that you have let the man slip through your fingers...
And now for your blunders. On your own showing you first of all allowed the patient to read a book he really enjoyed, because he enjoyed it and not in order to make clever remarks about it to his new friends. In the second place, you allowed him to walk down to the old mill and have tea there--a walk through country he really likes, and taken alone. In other words you allowed him two real positive Pleasures. Were you so ignorant as not to see the danger of this? The characteristic of Pains and Pleasures is that they are unmistakably real, and therefore, as far as they go, give the man who feels them a touchstone of reality....because, of course, five minutes' genuine toothache would reveal the romantic sorrows for the nonsense they are and unmask your whole strategem. But you were trying to damn your patient by the World, that is by palming off vanity, bustle, irony, and expensive tedium as pleasures. How can you have failed to see that a real pleasure was the last thing you ought to have let him meet? Didn't you foresee that it would just kill by contrast all the trumpery which you have been so laboriously teaching him to value? And that the sort of pleasure which the book and the walk gave him was the most dangerous of all? That it would peel off from his sensibility the kind of crust you have been forming on it, and make him feel that he was coming home, recovering himself?...
The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring two-pence what other people say about it, is by that very fact forearmed against some of our subtlest modes of attack. You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the 'best' people, the 'right' food, the 'important' books.
~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Chapter 13
On this day:
1924 Lewis gives his first lecture at the University of Oxford, on "The Good: Its Position Among Values."
Cool link of the day: The Wetplate Collodion Photography of Robert J. Szabo
Click here to learn more about wetplate collodion photography.