Monday, September 21, 2020

The consequences of the choice

CS Lewis described the process and the consequences of taking the ticket in an essay entitled The Inner Ring:

To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colours. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink, or a cup of coffee, disguised as triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still—just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naïf or a prig—the hint will come. It will be the hint of something which the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand: something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about: but something, says your new friend, which “we”—and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure—something “we always do.”

And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face—that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face—turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.

That is my first reason. Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things. My second reason is this. The torture allotted to the Danaids in the classical underworld, that of attempting to fill sieves with water, is the symbol not of one vice, but of all vices. It is the very mark of a perverse desire that it seeks what is not to be had. The desire to be inside the invisible line illustrates this rule. As long as you are governed by that desire you will never get what you want. You are trying to peel an onion: if you succeed there will be nothing left. Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain.

The ticket, and those who offer it, have been around for a very long time. Metallica described it in rather more succinct terms.

Careful what you wish

Careful what you say

Careful what you wish you may regret it

Careful what you wish you just might get it

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Blogger crescent wrench September 21, 2020 2:13 AM  

Metallica of course took their ticket when they sued Napster, thus kicking off the slow-rolling destruction of the internet as we know it which is still on-going today.

"Halls of justice painted green; Money talking..."

Blogger map September 21, 2020 2:21 AM  

From Metallica:

Where's your crown?

King Nothing...

Speaking of The Ticket, here is an oldies from Anonymous Conservative:

1. The age of consent for sexual acts must be lowered to 12 years old.

“Eliminate the phrase ‘carnal knowledge of any female, not his wife, who has not attained the age of 16 years’ and substitute a federal, sex-neutral definition of the offense… A person is guilty of an offense if he engages in a sexual act with another person, . . . [and] the other person is, in fact, less than 12 years old.” (p. 102)…

Prostitution must be legalized: it is not sufficient to change the law to sex-neutral language.

“Prostitution proscriptions are subject to several constitutional and policy objections. Prostitution, as a consensual act between adults, is arguably within the zone of privacy protected by recent constitutional decisions.” (p. 97) “Retaining prostitution business as a crime in a criminal code is open to debate. Reliable studies indicate that prostitution is not a major factor in the spread of venereal disease, and that prostitution plays a small and declining role in organized crime operations.” (p. 99)

“Current provisions dealing with statutory rape, rape, and prostitution are discriminatory on their face… There is a growing national movement recommending unqualified decriminalization [of prostitution] as sound policy, implementing equal rights and individual privacy principles.” (pp. 215-216)

4. The Mann Act must be repealed; women should not be protected from “bad” men.

“The Mann Act . . . prohibits the transportation of women and girls for prostitution, debauchery, or any other immoral purpose. The act poses the invasion of privacy issue in an acute form. The Mann Act also is offensive because of the image of women it perpetuates. . . . It was meant to protect from xthe villainous interstate and international traffic in women and girls,’ *those women and girls who, if given a fair chance, would, in all human probability, have been good wives and mothers and useful citizens. . . . The act was meant to protect weak women from bad men.” (pp. 98-99)

Yeah, this Ginsburg.

Blogger RadixMalorum September 21, 2020 2:27 AM  

At some point I hope VD bind his own writings in goat skin (if not already) for posterity.

I can just imagine in a few hundred years "SJWs Always Lie", "Corporate Cancer", and "Sea of Skulls" will be required reading along side the other classics of antiquity preserved through whatever civilizational collapse that is coming.

Blogger Scuzzaman September 21, 2020 2:28 AM  

I've shared that address by Lewis many many times. There is so much truth in it. There are many ways in which ordinary people are turned towards doing evil, but this, the lure of "inclusion", is one of the most successful.

(No coincidence that this word is also one of the mantras of the modern left.)

I strongly recommend repeated readings of the full text.

Blogger Shane Bradman September 21, 2020 2:41 AM  

We all have a price, and we best hope we're never in a situation where that price becomes relevant. Avoid any situation which could tempt you to betray what matters most.

Blogger Dark glasses Woody September 21, 2020 2:51 AM  

Such a readable writing style. Big tickets roads are reached by many path of small concessions.

Blogger SciVo September 21, 2020 3:03 AM  

And how many churches have preached this truth?

Blogger OvergrownHobbit September 21, 2020 3:21 AM  

The story version of this essay is the supernatural thriller That Hideous Strength

Blogger Yossarian September 21, 2020 3:42 AM  

Feynman talked about the Inner Ring as well. When he was getting more and more famous some academic Society of Fancy Pancy Scientisticians (can't remember the actual name) was courting him to enter their Inner Ring. He refused saying he sees no point in being part of any group who's only function is to decide who's part of the group and who isn't. Then they said they will make him an honorary member anyway. At which point he said that if his name is in any way associated with them he will sue for defamation.

Blogger Duke Norfolk September 21, 2020 4:38 AM  

Insidious, sneaky. You don't know you're ensnared until you're looking back longingly at the entrance that's only visible from the other side.

Similarly, it's often how organized crime operates too, I believe. At least the most effective of them.

Blogger Pedro Rocha September 21, 2020 4:52 AM  

@map, thanks for the pdf. Considering the topic, i was once tested for the ticket, and i didn't even consider it since it did not appeal to me. I only noticed after the fact. One must be tempted for the prize in order for it to work. Now, the things that i want/desire might be able to get me into trouble, but the interested parties do not know about it.
May it never come.

Blogger Shakey September 21, 2020 4:54 AM  

Nothing like a little King Nothing in the morning. Such an apt song.

While on this musical topic, have you ever heard of Masayoshi Soken Vox? You might enjoy his work, given what I know about your enjoyment of Japanese rock/metal.

Blogger John Rockwell September 21, 2020 4:56 AM  

Gain the World. Lose your soul. And lose Paradise Forevermore.

No more Eden. No more New Jerusalem that Golden City Pure and Clean.

Blogger MATT September 21, 2020 5:42 AM  

The easy road is the wrong road.

Stay hard!

Blogger Balkan Yankee September 21, 2020 6:09 AM  

If you have money, like Steve Bing had, the Inner Ringers will come running.

Blogger Critias September 21, 2020 6:34 AM  

There's a good amount of songs talking about taking the ticket. I was listening to Disturbed last week,can't remember the exact songs but a few of those are clearly about it. Korn's song 'coming undone' is interesting it sounds like he was subjected to MKultra stuff from a young age. The lead singers parents both being in the entertainment industry. A lot of this fits with the things AC says.

That's a fantastic essay by Lewis. I get the impression sometimes when people ask you on the Darkstream, they think the ticket givers appear in a big Eyes Wide Shut scene. It's not, it's so subtle.

Blogger rikjames.313 September 21, 2020 6:52 AM  

When I first learned of the Bohemian Grove, back in those days when the internet was mostly people sending memos called emails...

I was like 'So the ultra rich and powerful select the next presidents based on speeches they give to naked men at different worship stations to weird gods? WTH?'

Blogger Marc September 21, 2020 7:16 AM  

A absolute favorite.

Blogger Marc September 21, 2020 7:16 AM  

A absolute favorite.

Blogger Marc September 21, 2020 7:16 AM  

A absolute favorite.

Blogger Zaklog the Great September 21, 2020 7:22 AM  

I don't know what it says about my personality, but the situation as Lewis describes it here holds almost no temptation for me. I'm not saying I'm a saint. There are temptations which have far too much power over me. This, however, is not one of them. I've never wanted to be part of "the right group." Mostly, I've just wanted them to leave me and my friends alone.

Blogger God Emperor Memes September 21, 2020 7:56 AM  

Great book.

Blogger RedJack September 21, 2020 9:09 AM  

Great point. Know your price, and avoid being in a situation where someone can pay it.

Blogger urthshu September 21, 2020 9:09 AM  

Kinda feel bad now since no one ever offered me this choice thing he's describing.

Blogger DougW September 21, 2020 9:16 AM  

Lewis just nailed this so perfectly. I've never liked cliques, and being a confirmed introvert has made it easy for me to be good and successful at my job while still keeping my close friends very few in number. I retired from my first career after 27 years, as a fire/paramedic captain in a large metro area. On the way out the door one of my fellow captains said something that really stuck with me. "Doug, you were always great at the job, but you never let the job define you."

That may be one of the best compliments I ever received. I sincerely hope I modeled my wariness of "the inner ring" well enough for my kids.

Blogger Up from the pond September 21, 2020 9:26 AM  

Gore Vidal once joked that he was disappointed the KGB never approached him with the offer of a dacha. Or was it a joke?

Blogger tuberman September 21, 2020 9:27 AM  

This was very, very good. I loved it. Even though I've read CS Lewis fiction, this was new to me. Thanks.

Blogger Akulkis September 21, 2020 9:31 AM  

"Kinda feel bad now since no one ever offered me this choice thing he's describing."

You shouldn't. Not in the least.

Instead, you should be thankful.

Blogger Sterling Pilgrim September 21, 2020 9:54 AM  

I wonder who in the SSH is more susceptible to joining the “inner circle”. Media often portrays villains as Alpha-types such as Darth Vader, but perhaps that is subversion. What reality shows is that the Omega is very willing to join a group and destroy.

Blogger Fozzy Bear September 21, 2020 10:01 AM  

I didn’t get offered the ticket, but I had it taken away. As a teen I was on the path for wealth and power, via the Duke of Edinburgh Award/Rhodes Scholarship path. All I did was out one pedo priest/teacher, and my scholarship was revoked. The pedo went on the run and was beaten to death in Libya not long after, which is all the reward I ever needed.

Blogger John Bradley September 21, 2020 10:04 AM  

Omegas and Sigmas are well-situated to avoid this particular pathway to hell. Not that there aren't many others to choose from.

Blogger Pathfinderlight September 21, 2020 10:18 AM  

The idea that laws governing sexual crimes cause privacy concerns is laughable. It is always the training and motives of the people involved in the justice system that causes privacy concerns.

The people who cry about invasion of privacy are the same ones who will carelessly invade your privacy to impose their political agenda. Culturally American people have a fundamental understanding of privacy as it relates to the law.

Blogger pdwalker September 21, 2020 10:28 AM  

that is ... a scaringly accurate description.

Blogger Matt Robison September 21, 2020 10:33 AM  

One of the central temptations of one of the protagonists of That Hideous Strength. If you find this essay rings true, just wait till you read his fiction.

Blogger Saint September 21, 2020 10:38 AM  

There are many ways to get on the list. The Devil made the same offer to our Lord Jesus Christ. It's no surprise many of his servants get the offer. Some fools even accept it. Insert a list of the richest "Christian" church leaders.

It surprised me when my offer came. But, it was proof positive only God knoweth a man's heart and the Devil's intelligence gathering is highly overrated.

Blogger Reprehensible Adam September 21, 2020 10:45 AM  

God loves you!
Not an outsider but grafted in to be one of God’s children.
John 3:16
I love being an outsider.
Fuck this shit!

Blogger Krymneth September 21, 2020 10:47 AM  

Kinda disagree with "know your price". It's better to learn to not want what they are offering. That raises the price, quickly, and almost certainly beyond what they're willing to pay.

It's feasible to learn to not want what they're offering once you realize the net value of the whole package is always negative. Always. No matter the value of that up-front payment, they'll always take more then they give.

Blogger Homesteader September 21, 2020 10:48 AM  

I was talking to my kids about this recently- our discussion lead to some key points.

1. Always earn what you desire, and only desire that which you have earned.
(I think of this as the "No Country For Old Men" rule.)

2. Follow the Sunshine Rule- only do and say that, which if widely known, you would feel no shame in having done. (Admittedly, this rule only works for those who have a moral compass to start with.)

Remember, in the end, there are no secrets.

Blogger basementhomebrewer September 21, 2020 10:56 AM  

The tickets come in different forms of sin as well. I have had the join the inner circle and get rich quick ticket offered. I also had an attractive married woman solicit me as well. Both were tempting but I managed to avoid them both, although to my shame it was harder than it should have been to say no and continue to say no when the offers came back around.

Blogger LES September 21, 2020 11:00 AM  

The Damnation of Theron Ware by Harold Frederic

Blogger Barbarossa September 21, 2020 11:02 AM  

I've never been approached with the ticket in my business life, but I had it offered to me twice, once as a lieutenant, the other when I was a lieutenant commander. Guess by the time I made commander, "they" had figured out I wasn't one of "them." Lewis (not surprisingly) is quite correct. It's nothing dramatic. Someone comes up to you. Tells you that they've noticed you have a talent and someone with talent should have friends. Since I was already aware that there's an in-crowd (there always is), and I understood that nothing comes without a price, the offers had little temptation, and I politely declined. However, I knew that I had turned my back on making flag rank and that future promotions had gone from dead certain to likely but not assured. And with that I was content.

Blogger Reprehensible Adam September 21, 2020 11:09 AM  

One day we will see that blessed hope... and high five till it hurts!

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 September 21, 2020 11:12 AM  

C.S. Lewis perfectly describes this system in That Hideous Strength with the official hierarchy of N.I.C.E. and the actual hierarchy of it.

Blogger Mother Country September 21, 2020 11:35 AM  

How does one succeed in the world without the ticket? Surely some do. Lewis was successful enough, but never was a bestselling millionaire, either.

Blogger Steve Canyon September 21, 2020 11:41 AM  

The ticket isn't always a one way non-stop ride that one is offered all at once. Sometimes it's a lot of little connecting flights designed to get you to the same destination.

It's always offered. And offered to everyone.

Blogger Darayvus September 21, 2020 12:13 PM  

Thank you LES for directing us to a book that is not the obvious one. BELT magazine has a good review of it by one Ruth Graham, including her biography of author Harold Frederic.
Graham paints Frederic as, personally, an adulterer near to the point of bigamy. (He died at 42, certainly the fault of his mistress.) For Frederic, unlike for Lewis, you choose your ticket; there is no salvation in men, and Christ is silent.

Blogger Taignobias September 21, 2020 12:26 PM  

I spent some of my life actively trying to get the ticket from the devil, himself. Fancying myself wise, I thought to conjure and bind demons to my will, that I could use their powers to usurp the rightful rule of God (though I blinded myself to this aim). Failing, all that time, to realize that I was increasingly possessed of a violent and wicked spirit.

Thanks be to God, the Almighty Lord, for he dragged me kicking and screaming from the devil. I have struggled in life ever since, for I am captive now to the love of Christ, and the god of this world despises me for His sake.

Blogger September 21, 2020 12:34 PM  

Just finished reading the whole essay, it explains a lot of things I could never figure out. And explains a lot of what vox talks about in his blog. I'm so glad I found this voice of reason. I'm still short, but I have hope.

Blogger Krymneth September 21, 2020 12:49 PM  

Mother Country wrote:How does one succeed in the world without the ticket?

God will provide. "Successful enough" is reasonably attainable. Retiring at 30 is unlikely, but you can thrive in the ways that matter. There's no need to black pill here.

"Successful enough" becomes easier if you turn away from the traps the Devil lays to make it not be enough. Even in a purely secular sense, if you're not trying to keep up with the Joneses, don't buy every new shiny gizmo that is released, be prudent with your transportation, etc., and generally live within your means, people who are willing to work mostly have a reasonable path in front of them, even today.

Blogger Zaklog the Great September 21, 2020 12:55 PM  

@Duke Norfolk

You don't know you're ensnared until you're looking back longingly at the entrance that's only visible from the other side.

C.S. Lewis also wrote a poem that describes exactly that experience. I find it terrifying.

Blogger RedJack September 21, 2020 1:31 PM  

Mine was simple thing. A jot on a paper allowing a health risk to some of our customers, but a major gain in market share. I didn't take the ticket, because I failed to recognize it at the time.
Cost me a career in a field I loved, and was an expert in.

In retrospect, I have no regrets. I did at times during my push out of the field, but I vowed to myself to always be able to keep my conscience as clean as I could

Blogger Th3 J3st3r September 21, 2020 1:35 PM  

What a lonely place to be, in that inner ring

Blogger Angantyr September 21, 2020 1:48 PM  

I learn far more about *real* theology and True Christianity on this blog and the comments than probably just about any church that presently exists.

Blogger Chill Penguin September 21, 2020 2:56 PM  

@2 what we need is for the kid's father to carry out the sentence for statutory rape and if the girl is older he should have the right to duel the guy
pigs are the thin blue line between pedophiles and angry fathers, it's happened over and over in the news
and the idea that dueling will lead to a feud is ridiculous, no one would start a feud over a fornicator

Blogger Chip Hazard September 21, 2020 3:02 PM  

I'm of the same mind. Certain things have never appealed to me; it's not as if the ticket wasn't presented. However I have measured and weighed my options, reviewed the consequences and decided on a had pass.

Speaking of rings..."If I had found this thing by the side of the road, I would not take it."

Blogger Saint September 21, 2020 3:13 PM  

Struggles in life aren't a stranger to those are Christ's. They're a dear friend, for if we suffer in this life for Him we reign with Him in the next.

I pity anyone living a comfortable life, and when my life settles down I start repenting.

Blogger Matthew Hopkins (MHN) / Sam Smith September 21, 2020 3:36 PM  

@VD this reminds me so much of my time in Labour Students. I wish I had seen this essay before ... I have read a lot of C.S. Lewis stuff but was unaware of this essay.

I am doing an article about my youthful experiences before I left Labour and joined the Conservatives at some point, "How I took the ticket and gave it back" or similar.

Another important passage in Lewis' essay is this one - "You were not looking for virtue or kindness or loyalty or humour or learning or wit or any of the things that can really be enjoyed". If you join a ring of bad people in hope of success, do not expect them to be kind. Do not be surprised when they are treacherous, disloyal or simply disappointing.

Remember that skilled operators use that feeling of importance consciously as a manipulation to gain the support and loyalty of others. They understand the desire to become an 'insider'. I know a lot of people who 'took the ticket' and very few of them achieved their expected ambitions. Many came to outcomes they might not have chosen.

This essay is brilliant. Thanks for posting it. As I said it literally describes my time in Labour Students to a tee.

Blogger Rowan September 21, 2020 3:39 PM  

I was reviewing some passages in Gatsby for a lesson, earlier today, after I had read this, and it was clearer than ever: Gatsby took the ticket, but was still not in the Ring with Daisy &co.

I might assign portions of this Lewis essay as companion reading as we get to the last chapters.

Blogger Saint September 21, 2020 4:02 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Troy Lee Messer September 21, 2020 6:11 PM  

...I learn far more about *real* theology and True Christianity on this blog and the comments than probably just about any church that presently exists...

On one of Vox's Darkstreams, someone made a comment. I didnt read the comment, but I remember Vox's response, "you can talk to Jesus whenever you want, silly."

So I do.

Thanks Vox.

Blogger Edgar Abbey September 21, 2020 7:29 PM  

I read this whole essay and found it very enlightening, even at my advanced age. Thanks for posting, Vox.

Blogger Amethyst Dominica September 21, 2020 8:03 PM  

I've always believed in the old Groucho Marx quote "I wouldn't want to be in any club that would have me as a member."

Blogger SirHamster September 21, 2020 10:19 PM  

RedJack wrote:Great point. Know your price, and avoid being in a situation where someone can pay it.

Krymneth wrote:Kinda disagree with "know your price". It's better to learn to not want what they are offering. That raises the price, quickly, and almost certainly beyond what they're willing to pay.

The story attributed to Churchill always stuck with me: "We've already established what you are. Now we're just haggling over the price."

Avoiding temptation is practical. Not being tempted is better, but that takes careful tempering of your soul.

Blogger John Rockwell September 22, 2020 1:55 AM  

Mother Country wrote:How does one succeed in the world without the ticket? Surely some do. Lewis was successful enough, but never was a bestselling millionaire, either.

Friendship with the world is enmity with God.

Blogger Unknown September 23, 2020 6:54 AM  

I was also offered the ticket. Just as CS Lewis said. A friendly chat over a few drinks. I knew how sinister the offer was, and how I would destroy my morals and also end up being a loose end that needed tidying up. To avoid any issues, I simply said 'what you are saying is fascinating, but I'm sorry. I really don't think it's my thing'.

Blogger xevious2030 September 23, 2020 8:03 PM  

Ash nazg dardatuluk

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