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Remnants of a retreat

Screwtape to Wormwood:

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.

Thus if you had been trying to damn your man by the Romantic method— by making him a kind of Childe Harold or Werther submerged in self-pity for imaginary distresses— you would try to protect him at all costs from any real pain; because, of course, five minutes’ genuine toothache would reveal the romantic sorrows for the nonsense they were an unmask your whole stratagem.

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 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? As a preliminary to detaching him from the Enemy, you wanted to detach him from himself, and had made some progress in doing so.

Now, all that is undone.

The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis, chapter VIII

Photos taken in Vail, Colorado with the infamous Hipstamatic iPhone app. I get the irony of using something called Hipstamatic to illustrate this post.

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