My dear Blankweed,
The problem you raise, which is that having carefully scrutinised your patient’s patterns of behaviour you cannot find her “dream”, the lifestyle she aspires to, is not an uncommon one. What most human beings lack is focus. Your patient doesn’t have a single dream, or lifestyle aspiration, she has multitudes. And this is just the way we like it. A human being with a single, focused aim, is a dangerous thing. You may not think this – you might assume that as long as we take care to ensure that the human’s aspiration or ambition is something other than the Enemy’s service, all is well. And in many ways that is true, as I outlined in my last letter: someone whose aspiration is power in a single domain can easily be developed into a full blown tyrant; someone whose aim is to be seen as “the woman who has it all” can sacrifice her family to her vision, and create herself as one huge ego which cannot be restrained and in whom charity is completely eliminated. But you have to remember that a human being with the capacity to focus on a single path that seems to be angled in our favour can be turned into a human being with a single minded pursuit of the Enemy. I’ve seen it happen. You need only look at that unfortunate incident in
. But there are, sadly, many examples. The danger is in the capacity for
single-minded focus. Yes, we can exploit such focus, and wrap it in vanity and
greed, but the Enemy can also use it for His purposes. Damascus
So, it is all to the good that your patient lacks a focus on a single lifestyle aspiration. What you can do, then, is to place different media-generated lifestyle images in front of her at irregular intervals and have her chasing all of them. We want her buying yoga mats, incense sticks, and whole food cookery books one moment, longing for a boat and a skiing holiday the next, and telling her husband she needs an MBA and power suits the next. In other words, we tempt her with multiple lifestyle images. The advantages are that she will spend more money she doesn’t have that way, and she can’t achieve her dreams because many of them are mutually exclusive. You can’t, for example, become a marathon runner, a corporate business woman and an earth mother at the same time. It can’t be done. For a start, such “lifestyles” exhibit different and conflicting values, and for another, no-one can achieve so many things simultaneously because a human being only has so many hours in the day. The trick is to have her chasing not one rainbow but many, and wearing herself out and achieving nothing in the process. I keep telling you how much sheer pleasure there is in our job – and here is another example.
Your next question concerns just what we’re tempting your patient with here in our aim to tempt her to pursue a life style, or multiple lifestyles: is it greed or envy or vanity? Blankweed, we don’t always need labels for what we’re doing – but it is an interesting question. In many ways it is all these things, but in the main we can call it pride. Because the focus of a lifestyle is the way it is viewed by others, then pride must be its primary concern. We’re tempting them to take pride in something that is not real: an image they think they’ve created. Of course they haven’t created it: we have created it through our manipulation and management of the media, aided by the values of consumerism. But in their ignorance and vanity, they think that they have created an image. And they’re unlikely to connect that image with the golden calf in that book the Enemy is so proud of – and it’s our job to make sure they never do.
However, I have hesitated over whether to describe this kind of aspiration as pride, because deep down it is connected to something even more powerful and desirable: self-hatred. The human that can be tempted to aspire to a lifestyle, to the creation of an image for the sake of representation to others, finds him or herself to be inadequate. They look in the mirror, and they see something ordinary (of course) and they wish (with a little prodding on our part) others to see them as extraordinary. And so we encourage them to create (or think they create) a fiction to hide that deplorable self. It’s the Garden of Eden and the fig leaves all over again. The Enemy, of course, declares that they are in fact extraordinary, that he has made these miserable vermin in his own image, and that they are, therefore, a delight to his eyes, fragrant as the scent of heaven. Our job is to ensure they never suspect this for a moment, and if they do, that they don’t believe it. If they are, even for a second, under the influence of the Enemy, encouraged to consider that the words “in the image of God” might apply to them, you only need to have them stand in front of the mirror, first thing in the morning, with their bed hair, bleary eyes, and every line and blemish clearly visible, and the idea will seem laughable to them.
And yet – and this is one of our clearest indications that the Enemy is in fact mad, that he has no contact with reality – this person, precisely as they are, without finery or disguise, before they can put on their public face (or one of their public faces) is precisely the person the Enemy loves. He looks at them and, despite everything, he sees both the thing he made and loves, and himself reflected back. What he wants initially is for a person to “be themselves” – to say what they think, to do what they enjoy, to spend time with people whose company is pleasing to them, to wear what they like and eat the foods they prefer. Even if some of the things they think or say or do are explicitly sinful, He can work with them, bring them to Himself. He cannot work with or relate to a fiction. And so, our job is to grow the fiction, to develop the false self, the illusion that humans present to the world, to such an extent that the real self is entirely lost. So that a person couldn’t even tell you what they really thought or really wanted to do, because they are be too absorbed in the image they have invented (with our help) and how that image is seen by others.
You may think this is delicate work, but it is not. We feed them the line that what they are is inadequate, stupid, ugly, and despised by others – and they will have had enough experiences in the playground, in their homes, in their interactions with others to reinforce this belief. And then we show them the solution: hide yourself. Create instead, the illusion of a self. And as the soul itself shrinks from sight, the Enemy is rendered (almost) helpless. And when the Enemy responds – as He will – with messages that they are beautiful, loved, all that they should be because He made them and redeemed them – they won’t believe it. And thus they are inoculated against salvation. Game over.
Your affectionate friend