My Dear Mogslopper,

Some time ago I mentioned to you the importance of alarm clocks in your overall schemata of temptation. I was not jesting. The clock is in itself one of the greatest inventions in the history of humanity. And its appearance and persistence are due in no small measure to our Craft. Before I go on, however, I must insist that you have your patient take some position on Time in his life: whether he lives by it or against it matters not. What is significant is that he fancies himself someone who has the "proper perspective on time" and then browbeats anyone who takes any other approach. What is so earth-shattering about the clock? Ahh, Mogslopper, let me present you with a bit of old devil's revelry. Long ages ago, before Swiss watches or even Switzerland, before computers or even the abacus, humans relied on the sun, moon, and stars to organize their lives. Their patterns were rhythmic and superstitious and filled with either great fear or great love for Us. Millennia later, when I first earned my Wings, there were the first rudimentary clocks--sundials, tidal measurements, hourglasses and the like. But chronology was relatively unsophisticated. The result was that all of humanity realized it had to come to grips with life and death. There were no atheists as we know them today, primarily because no one was sheltered from the great spiritual gristmills at the opening and closing of Life. All witnessed disease--loved ones wasting into dried skin and brittle bone--and birth--the slime and noise of the first breaths--and therefore prized life all the more. We were still effective in those days; tempting was certainly darker, dirtier, filled with ardor and struggle rather than the greying, stultifying, stringing-along business it is today. But there was no rigorous policy of de-spiritualizing humans. Everything changed following the uncomfortable time we refer to as the Incarnation. We found that an effective long-term strategy began by gradually driving a wedge between the humans and their surroundings. More and more inventions of iron and wheels were stuffed into the gap created by the human detachment from nature. Eventually, quite suddenly and without much urging from Us, the humans--specifically the Germans (you should expect most of our major directives to find completion through them)--produced a clock, a regulatory device of such potential that it is difficult to completely describe all of the current strategies for extending the Kingdom of Noise that rely upon it in some small measure or another. To begin with, the clock gives humans the perception that they rule over something as ephemeral and indomitable as Time. In reality the opposite is true: Time is always the master of human and animal kind. But the clock at least provides the perception that nothing is ultimately outside of the purview of man--the keystone over the gate into the temple of humanism, materialism, and nihilism. Secondly, the clock exacerbates the condition of man's mortality--but only superficially draws his attention to it. Whenever we unbalance the fragile balance humankind straddles between animal and angel, we create an opportunity for Misery. Man was made for work, certainly. Deep down in their bones, men and women long to do something, to build, to birth, to plant and harvest, to care for things, to generally stink the world up with their filthy existence. Work is not part of the Adamic Curse. Toil, on the other hand, is part of that Curse. Toil is work twisted, work that does not produce, work that endlessly piles up, work without a goal or end point aside from the extinguishing of motion. Toil is another grand extention of the Kingdom of Noise into the earth. The clock, wonderful machine that it is, is a signpost for toil. The clock is what wakes your man up before the sun to ready himself for the time he calls "work," what he stares at in disbelief from time to time--sometimes because the day is "flying," other times because it is "dragging"--what tells him that he is far behind in his task, though he feels that he has given all of his energy and hasn't enough to finish. The clock is the metaphorical whip that the employer uses to subjugate his employees, now that the leather and iron variety is no longer literally used. How do you proceed with this knowledge regarding our mechanical fiend? I can foresee two courses based on his attitude toward time in general, as I mentioned before. If your man is very organized, have him live and die by the clock. The clock should wake him up, govern his day, push him past the point of mental exhaustion, and drop him into bed. He should never bother to look at the sky, still less at his fellow man. He should be at the behest of this clock at all times. Should someone not fit in his schedule, he should direct no time or compassion to him or her. With any luck, he will find himself friendless in short order. On the other hand, if he is a bit of a relational fellow, your man should loathe the clock. He should neglect to rise on time, neglect to schedule or keep appointments, eking out his days without a concern for patterns or regularity or promptness. In this way, he will feel quite free and superior to his wristwatch-wearing friends and, as a happy benefit, will seldom feel guilt at rudely standing them up, dropping appointments, and frittering the day away. With any luck, he will find himself friendless in short order. Furthermore, as it seems I must remind you yet again (the reports I am receiving regarding your patient are not favorable on this point), a human without close friendships--especially a self-proclaimed Christian--is the most managable type of patient we have. They falter; we encourage them to cover up, to remain distant from our Enemy. In time, provided you allow no other humans to stumble into their lives and rouse them from spiritual slumber, they are calloused and grimly whittle away their remaining time on earth engaging in minor infractions that nevertheless nudge them closer and closer to Hell. Even a simple thing like a clock can assist us in this--seemingly innocuous things often do, to the great and tragic surprise of the humans. Affectionately, Your Uncle


Blogger John McCollum said...


I really think that this particular post is -- oh, shit! It's already 8:42! Gotta go!


8/18/2004 7:44 AM  
Blogger e said...

Hmmmm. Not me, unfortunately. Some other...entity, shall we say...has some talent at writing like Lewis.

So, whoever you are, I'm not sure I want to boot you off the blog, given that you have added to this little Screwtape theme when I dropped off. But I would like you to tell me who you really are. Just respond to my emails if you don't want to blog your identity. I may know who you are already--but I understand your desire for a functional literary persona and so won't say anything as long as you clue me in to your real identity.

8/18/2004 10:49 PM  
Blogger e said...

Also, a comment on that post: I like it, there's interesting things there. But I'm not sure if clocks themselves are the problems or the automation of an *alarm* clock waking us up instead of, say, the sun or a rooster or something. Maybe that's an immaterial distinction and the mechanical clock really is the heart of the problem....

The devil knows....

8/18/2004 10:52 PM  
Blogger Roja said...

I have to say that at no time did I think this was an Erik post. Stylistically, it bares only slight resemblance, and as far as being Lewisesque, I'm not convinced in the slightest: Lewis would have said all this and more in a paragraph.

8/19/2004 3:30 AM  

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