The recent volcano in Hawaii spewed up metal cylinders, which when opened were found to contain copies of correspondence. These letters are reprinted here, unexpurgated.
From: Vice Chancellor Screwtape to Junior Tempter Wormwood
My Dear Wormwood,
Word has just reached me of your new dignity, as Senior Tempter in the Political division. I congratulate you. Your earnest endeavors in the Marriage division earned you this plum assignment. I personally reviewed the figures on incidents of domestic violence and divorce amongst your patients and they were inspiring. Even your cousin Wailbone, currently assigned to Mayhem and Suicide was most impressed. She thought you would be transferred to her division, and I believe was a bit piqued when you weren’t, but I said, “Calm yourself. He has a greater chance to serve in Political.” She uncoiled her tail and hopped away, which I took to be acceptance.
Well, enough of this preliminary chit chat. The duty falls to me, happily, to go over the current State of Discord memo with you, and brief you on where you will begin your sojourn into the political affairs of men and women in this glorious Age of Trump.
As you recall, we were all quite amused at how the Democrats guffawed and said, “Donald Trump will be elected when Hell freezes over.” Well, Sir, you may recall how Our Father Below took that opportunity to import icebergs from the antarctic to chill things out for a few days and when it hit freezing, ‘”Eureka” we knew exactly what His Dark Will intended, and so it came to pass.
The Hellish Historians have commented that they haven’t seen Our Father Below so excited since World War II. Now that was a virtual fire sale on souls, with all the tens of millions of people killed, but unfortunately it was also a time when The Enemy made great progress as well, shining that infernal light of his into our blessed darkness. Our family is only just now recovering from the disgrace of your Aunt Blastkite, who foolishly allowed that child in Germany, cloistered away in the attic, to write her memoirs. That diary of a school girl, insanely altruistic in the face of her circumstances, translated into 70 languages no less, was a great victory for The Enemy and a dreadful set back for us. Well, Sir, I don’t need to tell you what a tasty morsel your auntie made, as I used her to mop up the sauce! I know you were inordinately fond of her but I see that you have happily come to your senses and concentrated on your career. Whatever you do, don’t blunder like she did. I personally have spent decades endeavoring to eradicate the stain from the family blotter and the division record.
Now to the main topic of business, disinformation and publicity, the mortar and pestle of your craft. Politics is a game of illusion. Remember that tempter who used to manipulate his hands and put shadows of animals on the walls, and you liked the bunny rabbit? It’s like that, except you have to convince your patients that what they are seeing is not just form, it is substance. When you have them convinced that you’ve shown them a real rabbit, not just the outline of one, and moreover that the rabbit is theirs, and a gift from someone they idolize, you will have succeeded. You might even consider running for office yourself at that time. You will not be the first one of us to hold elective office, by no means, and certainly not in the GOP.
How is such a thing possible, you ask? How will I ever find the backing? Fear not. I direct you to the masterful work of Chiliwort, tempter in charge of that most divine expression of demonic devisiveness, that confection of illusion, hyperbole and pure unadulerated lies, so important that it merits a division in Hell all of its own: yes, I speak of none other than Fox News. That is the jewel in the crown of disinformation. Look at its simple ways and marvel that we didn’t figure it out sooner.
Now, we should have figured it out, how humans really think. Truly, the answer was there all along and we didn’t see it, forest for the trees, that sort of thing. Think of how one scared child would see a shape in the woods, and decide it was a beast of some sort. Then she would tell another child, who would embellish the story to say the beast had fangs and claws and chased him. Then twenty children would hear about it and discuss it amongst themselves and voila, you had the Boogey Man, and generations of children would hear the same story and hide under the covers. They knew it was real. They heard somebody say it and that’s all they needed to know. No one ever had to capture a Boogey Man, photograph a Boogey Man, get its footprint, nothing. Using this logic, empirical evidence is now irrelevant, a concept consigned to the ash heap of history, thanks to Fox News. The humans just have to talk about a thing, or in our modern world, see it on TV, to believe it. If you see it on TV, it’s real.
Now, bear that in mind above all else as you embark on your new duties. Think happily of our recent achievements in foreign affairs, and know that with Trump in charge, there will be many many more. Here’s just a few hints to use as the cornerstone upon which to build an even greater edifice of disinformation than Fox News (dare we dream?) for that is by far our best tool in the quest to fill our pantries with tasty treats for eons to come. Remember the old adage you learned in demon nursery, “nothing is so savory as a blissfully ignorant human, trapped in perdition by its own willful stupidity.” Here are the basics:
- Reverse the normal order of things and claim that it’s a recently discovered truth. For example Trump’s most recent ploy that your patients’ country’s allies are really its enemies and vice versa. Simply embrace a known murderer (of members of his own family, if possible) and dictator, (Kim is perfect) while you vilify a gentle soul who leads the most peaceable of nations. (Trudeau will do splendidly.) Make sure it’s known that the gentle leader really belongs with us and has already made reservations here. “There’s a place in Hell for Justin Trudeau.” Why, yes! Right here in the ledger! Follow that up with news that the DHS has fortified the northern border. That will cement in your patients’ minds that it wasn’t just a misunderstanding but that the Canadians really are the enemy. Chiliwort is now working on a plan to revise all of Jack London’s books to expose Canada’s true nature. When that is done, it will be time to let slip the dogs of war.
- Credit as many of your deeds as possible directly to The Enemy and his infernal Book. A textbook example of this was given by the Attorney General, who quoted scripture in order to justify ripping children from their parents’ arms and putting them in cages. That was sheer genius. He made this corrupt administration’s misdeeds all about the war in heaven and he supposedly voiced the side of the “good guy” in that conflict. Stellar, simply stellar. If I personally could bring Jeff Sessions to Our Home Below at once I would do so. As it is, I’ll have to wait for him to arrive, as he assuredly will, in due time. But that’s all right, the longer I wait, the more succulent he will become.
- Never forget the importance of each and every soul. Individually they seem puny and insignificant and they are, they most assuredly are. But in the aggregate they are the stuff of which our hearty stews are made. This week alone Ronna Romney McDaniel has openly shown that she has sold her soul to Our Father Below. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is trying to run from the inevitable, but it’s far far too late for her.
Sanders may actually yield more nourishment than just a few mouthfuls of stew, if we play our cards right. Snailnozzle is assigned to her case and he tells me that she was going through her usual rote prayer to The Enemy when for some confounded reason He decided to dispatch one of His angels. The angel told her that she needed to amend her ways and when she emerged hours later from the broom closet to which she had fled, soiling herself on the way, she called all her friends to declare that she was leaving the employ of Trump forthwith. Snailnozzle, never one to miss a beat, let her do so, but then the next morning he began working on her, telling her she was making too much of such a small thing, and assuring her that she was “only doing her job.” (Snailnozzle, if it has slipped your mind, formulated the Nuremburg defense, and as a result of his brilliance we have many jaded souls with just the right amount of crunch upon which to sharpen our fangs.)
Be sure to leave room for dessert. Rudy Giuliani was a mere joke and we depended upon his arrival to produce nothing but a little seasoning, but in joining up with Trump he has shown himself so devoid of character that Slothtack, his tempter, is persuaded that we should reassess our appraisal of him. Slothtack was assigned, as you may recall, to the Joseph McCarthy case years ago and with his obvious flair for bringing out the dramatic potential in his charges, shall we say, who can guess how Giuliani may end?
Ponder the cases of these patients and their tempters and all others that you may find in your caseload and this one precept I give you: Never despair. Remember, our chief asset is the completely unreasonable belief that they all hold that only other people, people that they don’t know, even, come to Our Home Below and that they themselves are destined to spend eternity playing musical instruments on clouds. They persist in this delusion, literally, until they are felled like bowling pins and wake up one night in the Hall of Welcome. Then, the recognition that they’re no longer in their human body but in a form more appropriate to their character, coupled with the smell of ozone, the bracing climate, a mere 65 degrees — Celsius — and the sight of flames dancing on the walls does tend to elicit the most delightful reactions from them. My personal tape of their screams mingled with our laughter was found to be so eloquent that it was requested recently by Cribhound for use in his Ritualistic Sacrifice 101 class. You didn’t know your old uncle was an artist, now did you?
I must take my leave, Wormwood. Keep up the good work and I shall write you again anon. Stay fiendish.
[If you like this, read its sister piece Screwtape Writes Again From Hell On the Passing Of the GOP Baton From Trump To DeSantis]
I’m sorry, did read “ moral authority “ , in the same breath with Bush 43 ? The same President that lien about WMDS and Saddam, and started two of the longest wars in UNITED STATES HISTORY. And said “mission accomplished “. And he and Dick Cheney lied about “ vast quantities of Yellow cake and aluminum tubes “ , did you think we forgot. Only he could save our country and get “Trump to resign” ? This modern day HITLER will quietly retire to the shade ( and maybe prison) . We need someone with a lot more credibility than 43 , who has faded into obscurity along with his morbid paintings . Like maybe “Mickey Mouse “ ?
Isn’t it stunning? I’m telling you, when I read this, I was wondering if the writer was pulling my leg. And I personally loved the part about how the blue collar workers love Dubya. Really? Another Republican born with a silver spoon in his mouth but he’s a friend of the working man as well?
The image painted of Dubya was new to me as well.
Thanks for dropping by to read. Do come again.
Can’t believe I missed seeing this when it first came out. This is brilliant, Ursula. Brilliant. Thank you, you made my day.
Thank you so much for saying that, Gaesdottir. You just made my day! I love C.S. Lewis, not just Screwtape Letters, but all his work. Plus, we need a chuckle now and again.
It was inevitable that Wormwood would be promoted (always provided he didn’t get eaten first) – besides the suoerior tutelage to which he has access, there’s always good old nepotism. Which makes me wonder whther Screwtape has written at all to anyone else in his extended family. Certainly he is a very busy devil, but you know the old adage – if you want something done, ask a busy (person).” Alas, we may never know.
Thanks for the directions. Wonderful. Sorry I missed it the first time. Glad I got to see it now.