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The greatest evil is not done in those sordid dens of evil that Dickens loved to paint … but is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.
Introduction to The Screwtape Letters, rev. ed. 1952
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More from C.S. Lewis
Her absence is no more emphatic in those places than anywhere else. It’s not local at all. I suppose if one were forbidden all salt one wouldn’t notice it much more in any one food more than another. Eating in general would be different, every day, at every meal. It is like that. The act of living is different all through. Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.
The safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
The Screwtape Letters
Did you mark how naturally–as if he’d been born for it–the Earth-born vermin entered the new life? How all his doubts became, in the twinkling of an eye, ridiculous? I know what the creature was saying to itself! ‘Yes. Of course. It always was like this. All horrors have followed the same course, getting worse and worse and forcing you into a kind of bottleneck till, at the very moment when you thought you must be crushed, behold! you were out of the narrows and all was suddenly well. The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you woke. You die and die and then you are beyond death. How could I ever have doubted it?’
Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey ‘people.’ People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war…. Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest.
Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself.”