Jan. 26th, 2011

invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Communist _support)
My dear Wormwood,

In your last letter you mentioned in passing your patient had acquired a taste for foie gras. I sense you have not yet grasped the opportunity you have to exploit his palate. While gluttony of delicacy is a useful means of subverting the women around him, we have pressed food and drink upon men so successfully that the physical Church has long ago taken note. However they have not updated the warning for the times and it is possible that despite hearing this regularly on Sunday he may not recognize that quality is a more damning entrance to gluttony than mere quantity.

The reason is its efficiency. A buffet meal might run him a small amount and give him all the food he wants at that time, but if he can be made to appreciate haute cuisine he will no longer have interest in a smorgasbord. He will be further pressured into a desire for novelty that the cooking of his mother or his girl will not do. He will find that he needs to seek out new restaurants regularly. Foods must be paired with wines, which of course will deaden his judgment and his intellect. All the while he will spend more than he can afford and have nothing more to show for it than a round belly and a sense of pride that will form a crust around his heart through which anything of the Enemy must first pass.

Listen carefully to his thoughts when he is at the table. If you are trying to encourage the habit of attending to his plate, you may need to allow him the positive pleasure at first. Don't let him do so for any longer than you must, because the more actual pleasure he gets out of it the more grateful he will become to the Enemy for allowing him to have it. Move him quickly onto exploring foods he is unfamiliar with, especially if he believes he may not like them but his friends tell him he will. Odds are he won't like them. Whether he does or not, your objective is to get him thinking about the qualities of the foods and comparing his past and present experiences with it. Don't let him think of a meal as good or bad; let him analyze the qualities of what he is tasting. Over time you'll be able to get him to think of those initial positive pleasures as his finest experiences with eating and thus make all others pale in comparison - and he will not realize that it was because he was not overthinking his meal that he found it enjoyable then.

While doing all this, work him into making a distinction between haute cuisine and his everyday fare. Suggest to him that how much he eats really doesn't matter. Try the popular phrase "you are what you eat". Once the quantities involved are under your control you can then press his mind to override his animal feelings of hunger or fullness. By this point you will have the occasions of which he eats well under your control. He will then eat on a schedule not based on any sort of cyclical rhythm or act of obedience, but rather on when you spot the opportunities to encourage further sin. The act of dining therefore becomes a springboard into all manner of unchaste living.

Once you have a firm command on his gullet you can then use it as a means to almost any other vice. I have used this to great effect on many a patient. For example, he can be made to request changes in social arrangements based on the food or drink he expects to be present. Any such request will undoubtedly be burdensome on the hosts and his relationship with them, which can be used effectively to create discontent between him and undesirable acquantainces. Or you can send him off to the occasion, bringing his disdain with him, and allow him to show his contempt. If you play him well, he may even gain the admiration of his fellows for being so.

Should he get any vague idea that you are manipulating him by his choice in cuisine, or that his appetite is somehow getting the better of him, let him show appreciation for it to everyone he meets. Let him practice charity by large gratuities to waiters and his guests (which of course will mean he spends even more money justifying himself). If a meal should be disappointing, have him haranuge the staff to his satisfaction, and then go off in search of a "proper" meal the next night.

I must caution you one thing, Wormwood - even gluttony must be done in moderation. It offers an excellent means of separating a man from both the Enemy and his Christian friends, but should you work too effectively when he is poor of spirit he might recognize the work you've been doing on him. Be careful not to exhaust his bankroll in his pursuit. If he finds that the only food he has the means for is the modest fare of his childhood or his life before his new circle of friends he may well abandon his new and improved Christian life with the kind of repentence the Enemy desires. But if you can keep him exploring new tastes in such a way that it removes his income but does not impoverish him you can use this method for a good many years. So let him focus great attention on his food, and in good time he will be food for us.

Your affectionate Uncle,
Screwtape

The characters and style are lovingly borrowed from C.S. Lewis and The Screwtape Letters, hopefully in the spirit in which he intended.

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invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
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December 2011

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