Increasing craving for diminishing pleasure

It took me 27+ years, but I’m finally reading C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters (1942). It’s a little off-putting to be reading something from the perspective of a demon, but there are some masterful passages, like this one on pleasure. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s written from the perspective of a senior demon Screwtape to his younger nephew, Wormwood. Thus, the “Enemy” here is God and “Our Father” is the devil.

“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula. It is more certain and it’s better style. To get a man’s soul and give him nothing in return—that’s what really gladdens Our Father’s heart.” (pp. 44-45)


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