|C. S. Lewis|
That Hideous Strength
Copyright © 1945, 1946 by Clive Staples Lewis
Dinner with the Sub-Warden
|1||For instance, if it were even whispered that the N.I.C.E. wanted powers to experiment on criminals, youd have all the old women of both sexes up in arms and yapping about humanity. Call it re-education of the mal-adjusted, and you have them all slobbering with delight that the brutal era of retributive punishment has at last come to an end. Odd thing it isthe word experiment is unpopular, but not the word experimental. You mustnt experiment on children; but offer the dear little kiddies free education in an experimental school attached to the N.I.C.E. and its all correct!|
|3||We think the lamb gentle because its wool is soft to our hands: men call a woman voluptuous when she arouses voluptuous feelings in them.|
Belbury and St. Annes-on-the-Hill
|4||For desert was always finite: you could do so much to the criminal and no more. Remedial treatment, on the other hand, need have no fixed limit; it could go on till it had effected a cure, and those who were carrying it out would decide when that was. And if cure were humane and desirable, how much more prevention? Soon anyone who had ever been in the hands of the police at all would come under the control of the N.I.C.E.; in the end, every citizen.|
|I happen to believe that you cant study men; you can only get to know them, which is quite a different thing. Because you study them, you want to make the lower orders govern the country and listen to classical music, which is balderdash. You also want to take away from them everything which makes life worth living and not only from them but from everyone except a parcel of prigs and professors.|
The Liquidation of Anachronisms
|1||Husbands were made to be talked to. It helps them to concentrate their minds on what theyre readinglike the sound of a weir.|
|6||[...] his education had had the curious effect of making things that he read and wrote more real to him than things he saw. Statistics about agricultural labourers were the substance; any real ditcher, ploughman, or farmers boy, was the shadow. Though he had never noticed it himself, he had a great reluctance, in his work, ever to use such words as man or woman. He preferred to write about vocational groups, elements, classes and populations: for, in his own way, he believed as firmly as any mystic in the superior reality of the things that are not seen.|
Why you fool, its the educated reader who can be gulled. All our difficulty comes with the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes it for granted that theyre all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in Mayfair flats. He is our problem. We have to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the highbrow weeklies, dont need reconditioning. Theyre all right already. Theyll believe anything.
We both like Weather. Not this or that kind of weather, but just Weather. Its a useful taste if one lives in England.
How ever did you learn to do that, Mr. Denniston? said Jane. I dont think I should ever learn to like rain and snow.
Its the other way round, said Denniston. Everyone begins as a child by liking Weather. You learn the art of disliking it as you grow up. Havent you ever noticed it on a snowy day? The grown-ups are all going about with long faces, but look at the childrenand the dogs? They know what snows made for.
Im sure I hated wet days as a child, said Jane.
Thats because the grown-ups kept you in, said Camilla.
|3||There may have been a time in the worlds history when such moments fully revealed their gravity, with witches prophesying on a blasted heath or visible Rubicons to be crossed. But, for him, it all slipped past in a chatter of laughter, of that intimate laughter between fellow professionals, which of all earthly powers is strongest to make men do very bad things before they are yet, individually, very bad men.|
Equality is not the deepest thing, you know.
I always thought that was just what it was. I thought it was in their souls that people were equal.
You were mistaken, said he gravely. That is the last place where they are equal. Equality before the law, equality of incomesthat is very well. Equality guards life; it doesnt make it. It is medicine, not food.
Moonlight at Belbury
Men cant help in a job, you know. They can be induced to do it: not to help while youre doing it. At least, it makes them grumpy.
The cardinal difficulty, said MacPhee, in collaboration between the sexes is that women speak a language without nouns. If two men are doing a bit of work, one will say to the other, Put this bowl inside the bigger bowl which youll find on the top shelf of the green cupboard. The female for this is, Put that in the other one in there. And then if you ask them, in where? they say, in there, of course. There is consequently a phatic hiatus. He pronounced this so as to rhyme with get at us.
Theres your tea now, said Ivy Maggs, and Ill go and get you a piece of cake, which is more than you deserve. And when youve had it you can go upstairs and talk about nouns for the rest of the evening.
Not about nouns: by means of nouns, said MacPhee, but Mrs. Maggs had already left the room.
The Saracens Head
Theres such a thing as loyalty, said Jane. MacPhee, who had been carefully shutting up the snuff-box, suddenly looked up with a hundred covenanters in his eyes.
There is, Maam, he said. As you get older you will learn that it is a virtue too important to be lavished on individual personalities.
|5||To those high creatures whose activity builds what we call Nature, nothing is natural. From their station the essential arbitrariness (so to call it) of every actual creation is ceaselessly visible; for them there are no basic assumptions: all springs with the willful beauty of a jest or a tune from that miraculous moment of self-limitation wherein the Infinite, rejecting a myriad possibilities, throws out of Himself the positive and elected invention.|
The Conquered City
|1||Materialism is in fact no protection. Those who seek it in that hope (they are not a negligible class) will be disappointed. The thing you fear is impossible. Well and good. Can you therefore cease to fear it? Not here and now. And what then? If you must see ghosts, it is better not to disbelieve in them.|
|1||There might be a life after death: a Heaven: a Hell. The thought glowed in her mind for a second like a spark that has fallen on shavings, and then a second later, like those shavings, her whole mind was in a blazeor with just enough left outside the blaze to utter some kind of protest. But . . . but this is unbearable. I ought to have been told. It did not, at that moment, occur to her even to doubt that if such things existed they would be totally and unchangeably adverse to her.|
Wet and Windy Night
|2||On the one hand, anything like a lack of initiative or enterprise would be disastrous. On the other, the slightest approach to unauthorised actionanything which suggested that you were assuming a liberty of decision which, in all the circumstances, is not really yoursmight have consequences from which even I could not protect you. But as long as you keep quite clear of these two extremes, there is no reason (speaking unofficially) why you should not be perfectly safe.|
The approval of ones own conscience is a very heady draught; and specially for those who are not accustomed to it.
|It is idle to point out to the perverted man the horror of his perversion: while the fierce fit is on, that horror is the very spice of his craving.|
They Have Pulled Down Deep Heaven on Their Heads
|4||If you dip into any college, or school, or parish, or familyanything you likeat a given point in its history, you always find that there was a time before that point when there was more elbow room and contrasts werent quite so sharp; and that theres going to be a time after that point when there is even less room for indecision and choices are even more momentous. Good is always getting better and bad is always getting worse: the possibilities of even apparent neutrality are always diminishing. The whole thing is sorting itself out all the time, coming to a point, getting sharper and harder.|
Real Life Is Meeting
|2||She must, of course, be very different with him when they met again. But it was that again which so took the savour out of the good resolutionlike going back to a sum one had already got wrong and working it out afresh on the same scrawled page of the exercise book.|
The Descent of the Gods
|4||If the universe was a cheat, was that a good reason for joining its side? Supposing the Straight was utterly powerless, always and everywhere certain to be mocked, tortured, and finally killed by the Crooked, what then? Why not go down with the ship?|
Banquet at Belbury
|4||The last scene of Dr. Faustus where the man raves and implores on the edge of Hell is, perhaps, stage fire. The last moments before damnation are not often so dramatic. Often the man knows with perfect clarity that some still possible action of his own will could yet save him. But he cannot make this knowledge real to himself. Some tiny habitual sensuality, some resentment too trivial to waste on a blue-bottle, the indulgence of some fatal lethargy, seems to him at that moment more important than the choice between total joy and total destruction. With eyes wide open, seeing that the endless terror is just about to begin and yet (for the moment) unable to feel terrified, he watches passively, not moving a finger for his own rescue, while the last links with joy and reason are severed, and drowsily sees the trap close upon his soul.|
Venus at St. Annes
|4||The laws of the universe are never broken. Your mistake is to think that the little regularities we have observed on one planet for a few hundred years are the real unbreakable laws; whereas they are only the remote results which the true laws bring about more often than not; as a kind of accident.|
But this, said MacPhee, seems a very round-about way of saying that theres good and bad men everywhere.
Its not a way of saying that at all, answered Dimble. You see, MacPhee, if one is thinking simply of goodness in the abstract, one soon reaches the fatal idea of something standardisedsome common kind of life to which all nations ought to progress. Of course, there are universal rules to which all goodness must conform. But thats only the grammar of virtue. Its not there that the sap is. He doesnt make two blades of grass the same: how much less two saints, two nations, two angels.
|6||Seeing people off is always folly. Its neither good mirth nor good sorrow.|
text checked (see note) Feb 2005; Jun 2007
Background graphic copyright © 2003 by Hal Keen