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Monday, February 29, 2016

Unmasking the Devil

       "But when a man's fancy gets astride on his reason;  when imagination is at cuffs with the senses, and common understanding, as well as common sense, is kicked out of doors;  the first proselyte he makes is himself;  and when that is once compassed, the difficulty is not so great in bringing over others;  a strong delusion always operating from without as vigorously as from within. . .And, first, with relation to the mind or understanding, 'tis manifest what mighty advantages fiction has over truth;  and the reason is just at our elbow, because imagination can build nobler scenes, and produce more wonderful revolutions than fortune or nature will be at expense to furnish. . .How fading and insipid do all objects accost us, that are not conveyed in the vehicle of delusion!  How shrunk is everything, as it appears in the glass of nature!  So that if it were not for the assistance of artificial mediums, false lights, refracted angles, varnish and tinsel, there would be a mighty level in the felicity and enjoyments of mortal men.  If this were seriously considered by the world, as I have a certain reason to suspect it hardly will, men would no longer reckon among their high points of wisdom, the art of exposing weak sides, and publishing infirmities;  an employment, in my opinion, neither better nor worse than that of unmasking, which, I think, has never been allowed fair usage, either in the world, or the play-house."  Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a Tub (p.119)

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