The other afternoon,
sitting around at home, not doing much, the Devil rang at my
doorbell. When I opened the door I recognised him at once. He was
very tall, looked like a cross between a wild goat and a human, and
smelt quite strongly of sulphur.
-"Come in, come in of course, and for what reason have I the honour of your visit, Prince of Darkness?"
-"I've come to talk to you about God" he says.
He settled himself in my best armchair, and asked for a cigar and a shot of whiskey.
Neither whiskey drinker nor cigar smoker myself, I couldn't offer him much, so I made some tea.
-"Do you believe
in God?" asks the Devil.
-"No, I don't know if he exists" I replied, realising suddenly that the existence of the Devil proved that of God.
-“That's not what I asked you" replies the Devil. "Do you believe in the worth of God?"
-"This question doesn't make sense! God makes worth, he's well above this question."
-"Ooh la la la!" laughs the Devil, holding his sides.
I could see the purplish mucus in his mouth, looking capable of digesting anything. His tail thrashed wildly, leaving scorch marks on the leather of my chair.
-"Why are you laughing?" says I.
-"God makes everything; thought, judgement and intelligence. How then can one turn these things against their Creator? It's a fine way to keep man quiet!".
I looked at his fine cloven hooves, tapping rhythmically on my Persian rug.
-"How do I get out of this situation?” I ask.
-"Hold you hard!" says the Devil, "Can you not see the obvious?"
-"All I can see for the moment is a hybrid phenomenon straight out of hell!" I exclaim.
-"The obvious" replies the Devil "Is that you have been created. This is your problem. Your freedom is limited because you come from God. Without him you are nothing. Your only freedom is to love him in order to find happiness in the slavery which he proposes. God is one. Truth is one. There is no room for anything else. Universe is infinite but God takes up all the room. This is surely the triumph of singular thought!"
Lucifer was starting to convince me. A shudder ran through me. Slowly I approached him, to gain from his psychic warmth. I noticed that his skin was regularly changing colour, as if streams of molten lava were flowing in his veins.
-"What should I do then?" I ask.
He was still sitting cross-legged in my favourite armchair, like a gymnastic toad.
-"Suffer", he replies.
This human beast farted white smokes. His eyes seemed to look joyously into a real elsewhere, an elsewhere from God.
-"Human beings strive with all their might to be united with God" explains Beelzebub.
"Pain measures the distance between man and divinity. The more man takes
his freedom, the further he is from God, and the more he
-"Liberty is thus so painful?" I ask.
-"Do you think it has no price?" laughs the Wily One.
This Genius of Evil then turned to my fireplace, arranged a few logs, which, under his hand put themselves in place and soon started a lively blaze.
-"How can I accept sufferance?" I asked.
-"By greatness" says the Devil.
I looked at him. He was as reassuring as a fine, strong animal. He didn't seem wicked, but rather convinced by his ideas. His ease, and his long life were witness to a relative serenity, and wisdom. After all, he was there whilst God, explained as all the world, could only express himself as a form of public drought.
-"What do you suggest then?"
-"It's very simple," the Devil says to me, "Hell. But I warn you; access is not so easy. To get in, you must act against your moral sense. Try to be a criminal, you'll see it's not that simple. The Fall into perversion is not as easily given as the gospels would have you believe; you have a pitiless ego. Believe me, bending your back to get into heaven is infinitely easier".
On this he thanked me for my hospitality and went his way.
Once alone again, I realised the double difficulty.
I was as incapable of being a sinner as of being a saint. Both heaven and hell were closed to me. I was just the same as the mass of mediocrity who make up humanity.
I decided thus that I should smarten up my qualities.
I will decide later if I will use them for better or for worse.
The second image is of a ceiling-boss in Norwich cathedral, in the UK. I don't know to whom I should accredit the others - but thanks anyway; they are here because I admire them.