Comparative Ponerology of the Day

“Obviously rock climbing firms the upper regions of the will. But it’s quite a process. And just as dangerous as black magic. For every fear we are ready to confront is equally open, you see, to the Devil. Should we fail, the Devil is there to soothe our cowardice. ‘Stick with me,’ he says, ‘and your cowardice is forgiven.’ Whereas, rock climbing, when well done, pinches off the Devil. Of course, if you fail, his nibs returns twofold. If you are not good enough then, you spend half your days getting the Devil out. That is marking time. And so long as we stay in place, Satan is more than satisfied. He loves circular, obsessive activity. Entropy is his meat. When the world becomes a pendulum, he will inhabit the throne.”

—Norman Mailer, Harlot’s Ghost

“Who knows today, who even knew in classical times, what inspiration is, what genuine, old, primeval enthusiasm, insicklied critique, unparalysed by thought or by the mortal domination of reason—who knows the divine raptus? I believe, indeed, the devil passes for a man of destuctive criticism? Slander and again slander, my friend! Gog’s sacrament! If there is anything he cannot abide, if there’s one thing in the whole world he cannot stomach, it is destructive criticism. What he wants and gives is triumph over it, is shining, sparkling, vainglorious unreflectiveness!”

—Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus

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