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Unformatted text preview: tom1/books2/c._s._lewis_-_the_screwtape_letters.htm 2/07/2008 THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS Page 27 of 34 The use of Fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers. We direct the fashionable
outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to
that vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them running about with fire extinguishers
whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under. Thus we
make it fashionable to expose the dangers of enthusiasm at the very moment when they are all really becoming worldly
and lukewarm; a century later, when we are really making them all Byronic and drunk with emotion, the fashionable
outcry is directed against the dangers of the mere "understanding". Cruel ages are put on their guard against
Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritansm; and whenever all men
are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make Liberalism the prime bogey.
But the greatest triumph of all is to elevate his horror of the Same Old Thing into a philosophy so that nonsense in the
intellect may reinforce corruption in the will. It is here that the general Evolutionary or Historical character of modern
European thought (partly our work) comes in so useful. The Enemy loves platitudes. Of a proposed course of action He
wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can
keep men asking "Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the
way that History is going?" they will neglect the relevant questions. And the questions they do ask are, of course,
unanswerable; for they do not know the future, and what the future will be depends very largely on just those choices
which they now invoke the future to help them to make. As a result, while their minds are buzzing in this vacuum, we
have the better chance to slip in and bend them to the action we have decided on. And great work has already been
done. Once they knew that some changes were for the better, and others for the worse, and others again indifferent. We
have largely removed this knowledge. For the descriptive adjective "unchanged" we have substituted the emotional
adjective "stagnant". We have trained them to think of the Future as a promised land which favoured heroes attain—not
as something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is,
Your affectionate uncle
MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
Yes; courtship is the time for sowing those seeds which will grow up ten years later into domestic hatred. The
enchantment of unsatisfied desire produces results which the humans can be made to mistake for the results of charity.
Avail yourself of the ambiguity in the word "Love": let them think they have solved by Love problems they have in fact
only waived or postponed under the influence of the enchantment. While it lasts you have your chance to foment the
problems in secret and r...
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This note was uploaded on 02/07/2014 for the course MIS 304 taught by Professor Mejias during the Spring '07 term at University of Arizona- Tucson.
- Spring '07