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MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
I sometimes wonder whether you think you have been sent into the world for your own amusement. I gather, not from
your miserably inadequate report but from that of the Infernal Police, that the patient's behaviour during the first raid
has been the worst possible. He has been very frightened and thinks himself a great coward and therefore feels no pride; http://members.fortunecity.com/phantom1/books2/c._s._lewis_-_the_screwtape_letters.htm 2/07/2008 THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS Page 32 of 34 but he has done everything his duty demanded and perhaps a bit more. Against this disaster all you can produce on the
credit side is a burst of ill temper with a dog that tripped him up, some excessive cigarette smoking, and the forgetting
of a prayer. What is the use of whining to me about your difficulties? If you are proceeding on the Enemy's idea of
"justice" and suggesting that your opportunities and intentions should be taken into account, then I am not sure that a
charge of heresy does not lie against you. At any rate, you will soon find that the justice of Hell is purely realistic, and
concerned only with results. Bring us back food, or be food yourself.
The only constructive passage in your letter is where you say that you still expect good results from the patient's
fatigue. That is well enough. But it won't fall into your hands. Fatigue can produce extreme gentleness, and quiet of
mind, and even something like vision. If you have often seen men led by it into anger, malice and impatience, that is
because those men have had efficient tempters. The paradoxical thing is that moderate fatigue is a better soil for
peevishness than absolute exhaustion. This depends partly on physical causes, but partly on something else. It is not
fatigue simply as such that produces the anger, but unexpected demands on a man already tired. Whatever men expect
they soon come to think they have a right to: the sense of disappointment can, with very little skill on our part, be
turned into a sense of injury. It is after men have given in to the irremediable, after they have despaired of relief and
ceased to think even a half-hour ahead, that the dangers of humbled and gentle weariness begin. To produce the best
results from the patient's fatigue, therefore, you must feed him with false hopes. Put into his mind plausible reasons for
believing that the air-raid will not be repeated. Keep him comforting himself with the thought of how much he will
enjoy his bed next night. Exaggerate the weariness by making him think it will soon be over; for men usually feel that a
strain could have been endured no longer at the very moment when it is ending, or when they think it is ending. In this,
as in the problem of cowardice, the thing to avoid is the total commitment. Whatever he says, let his inner resolution be
not to bear whatever comes to him, but to bear it "for a reasonable period"—and let the reasonable period be shorter
than the trial is likely to last. It need not be much shorter; in attack...
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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