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Unformatted text preview: one 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 and 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 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? 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.
Of course I know that the Enemy also wants to detach men from themselves, but in a different way. Remember always,
that He really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them. When He talks
of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really
gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be
more themselves than ever. Hence, while He is delighted to see them sacrificing even their innocent wills to His, He
hates to see them drifting away from their own nature for any other reason. And we should always encourage them to
do so. The deepest likings and impulses of any man are the raw material, the starting-point, with which the Enemy has
furnished him. To get him away from those is therefore always a point gained; even in things indifferent it is always
desirable substitute the standards of the World, or convention, or fashion, for a human's own real likings and dislikings.
I myself would carry this very far. I would make it a rule to eradicate from my patient any strong personal taste which is
not actually a sin, even if it is something quite trivial such as a fondness for county cricket or collecting stamps or
drinking cocoa. Such things, I grant you, have nothing of virtue them; but there is a sort of innocence and humility and
self-forgetfulness about them which I distrust. The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world,
for its own sake, and without caring twopence what other people say about it, is by that very fact fore-armed 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. I have known a human defended
from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions.
It remains to consider how we can retrieve this disaster. The great thing is to prev...
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- Spring '07