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The Skubala Missives, Letter 1

To the Most Eminent Secretary Kugelpuss:

It is of course with the most earnest trepidation that I bring a matter of great importance to your attention.  Your reputation precedes you, but I will be an enigma to you.  Lest you mistake your resume as a warrant for any response you deem appropriate, I must sketch out the details of my own expertise, which of course I invite you to verify.

I arose to my present position from Screwtape’s division, and under his tutelage and by his efforts.  If my name is not enough to arouse within you some terror, then I know, my fellow gentledemon, that the name of Screwtape will do the trick!  You will surmise from this that I have not arrived at my station merely because Screwtape had a fondness for me, but because I delivered.

I know you will point to your glorious conquests in the hunt, conquests which are known throughout the third Hell, and you will make sure to remind me that nobody knows the names of those that I have brought to the table.  Nonetheless, I should like you to ponder how it is that you and I have arrived at equal rank.  It cannot be for no reason!

True, in the capacity of a tempter you gave us Hitler.  Certainly, the feast resulting from that conquest is on-going, and the aroma of his decaying soul continues to linger in the halls and caverns of our abodes.  I dare say the scent is in the very walls, giving us a taste of what the humans reference when they speak of ‘smoking’ and ‘non-smoking’ rooms.  Yes, you turned the man masterfully, and the resulting carnage yielded strong dividends, which we enjoy to the present moment.

Following this, you gave to our cause Pinochet, for which we are most grateful.  It was for this long history that you have been honored with your recent promotion, which I congratulate you for.  Nonetheless, there is a strong rumor that despite being promoted you still dabble in direct tempting; I know, because I receive the complaints filed by lesser tempters who do not appreciate the interference.  Surely, you didn’t think such intrusions went unnoticed?  It is not worthy of your newly acquired station, and not compatible with your appointed role.

I do not dispute the largesse you have delivered to us, but you appear to be completely unaware of the present strategy being employed, and in fact are treading closer and closer to disrupting it.  It has fallen to me to send this friendly letter because I was among those who helped craft the strategy.  You gave us the windfall of the likes of Hitler and Pinochet, I gave you the steady income of unknown or under-estimated brands such as the Osborns, a certain Huxley, and Jaffe.

Importantly, these I delivered to our feasts not by direct temptation–if you must know, I was promoted out of such trivial work long ago, in recognition of my efforts related to Godwin and Malthus–but through a mechanism you seem to be utterly ignorant of:  institutional inertia.  Look into it, and you will see that I was central to the development and diffusion of Taylor’s efficiency movement.  That’s the sort of work that pays in the long-term.

Within a few decades, even the delightful stench of Hitler in our walls will have finally dissipated, but in a century, thanks to me, we will enjoy a perpetual crop of staples that will not merely sustain us, but make each of us plump and well-satisfied.

This was the approach taken by the Esteemed Screwtape, after the pattern of other enlightened Master-Demons who understood that our inclination to immediate gratification was blinding us to the advantages of systematic cultivation, decade over decade, century over century.  It is an approach that has now been formally accepted by the Organization.  As such, by undermining that approach, it is not a mere disciplinary board you must fear, but the Organizer himself.

It would be insulting for me to lay out the details of that strategy, as you are certainly competent enough to do so, and you have your own underlings who can advise you.  It’s all there on Form 350 in section 3 in sub-part A; see also addendum 12.

Suffice it to say that the strategy we have adopted today is more like putting Man into a drunken stupor, distancing him from a life of purpose, and instilling in him a gnawing ache of desperation, which we then help him ‘satisfy’ through various measures which make him even more desperate, distancing him further from having a life of purpose, and, most importantly of all important things, taking him further from the Enemy’s long reach.

Meanwhile, you continue to throw veritable bombs.  The carnage is lovely, don’t misunderstand me, but the whole idea was to have them all smolder.  If you continue to inflame our prey, they will all burn out, and the structure we have spent almost a century building will be consumed right along with them.  I trust you can see that not only is this not in our own collective interest, it is not in yours, either.

Please do advise if I can render any further counsel.

Yours sincerely,


Secretary of the Department of Systems



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