Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Monday, November 16, 2009


Read James Poulos’s post on lists. Done? Okay, now read these selections from W. H. Auden’s essay “Infernal Science”:

All exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation. (Bertrand Russell). If so, then infernal science differs from human science in that it lacks the notion of approximation: it believes its laws to be exact. [. . .]

The first anthropological axiom of the Evil One is not All men are evil, but All men are the same; and his second — Men do not act, they only behave. [. . .]

One of our greatest spiritual dangers is our fancy that the Evil One takes a personal interest in our perdition. He doesn't care a button about my soul, any more than Don Giovanni cared a button about Donna Elvira’s body. I am his “one-thousand-and-third in Spain.”

One can conceive of Heaven having a Telephone Directory, but it would have to be gigantic, for it would include the Proper Name and address of every electron in the Universe. But Hell could not have one, for in Hell . . . its inhabitants are identified not by name but by number. They do not have numbers, they are numbers.

From The Dyer’s Hand (1962).


Post a Comment

[Basic HTML tags can be used in this comment field.]