“As he was looking down at this [Ransom] suddenly noticed something else. At first he thought it was a creature of more fantastic shape than he had yet seen on Perelandra. Its shape was not only fantastic but hideous. Then he dropped on one knee to examine it. Finally he touched it, with reluctance. A moment later he drew back his hands like a man who had touched a snake.
“It was a damaged animal. It was, or had been, one of the brightly colored frogs. But some accident had happened to it. The whole back had been ripped open in a sort of V-shaped gash, the point of the V being a little behind the head. Some thing had torn a widening wound backward—as we do in opening an envelope—along the trunk and pulled it out so far behind the animal that the hoppers or hind legs had been almost torn off with it. They were so damaged that the frog could not leap. On earth it would have been merely a nasty sight, but up to this moment Ransom had as yet seen nothing dead or spoiled in Perelandra, and it was like a blow in the face. It was like the first spasm of well-remembered pain warning a man who had thought he was cured that his family have deceived him and he is dying after all. It was like the first lie from the mouth of a friend on whose truth one was willing to stake a thousand pounds. It was irrevocable. The milk-warm wind blowing over the golden sea, the blues and silvers and greens of the floating garden, the sky itself—all these had become, in one instant, merely the illuminated margin of a book whose text was the struggling little horror at his feet, and he himself, in that same instant, had passed into a state of emotion which he could neither control nor understand. He told himself that a creature of that kind probably had very little sensation. But it did not much mend matters. It was not merely pity for pain that had suddenly changed the rhythm of his heartbeats. The thing was an intolerable obscenity which afflicted him with shame. It would have been better, or so he thought at that moment, for the whole universe never to have existed than for this one thing to have happened. Then he decided, in spite of his theoretical belief that it was an organism too low for much pain, that it had better be killed. He had neither boots nor stone nor stick. The frog proved remarkably hard to kill. When it was far too late to desist he saw clearly that he had been a fool to make the attempt. Whatever its sufferings might be he had certainly increased and not diminished them. But he had to go through with it. The job seemed to take nearly an hour. And when at last the mangled result was quite still and he went down to the water’s edge to wash, he was sick and shaken. It seems odd to say this of a man who had been on the Somme, but the architects tell us that nothing is great or small save by position.
“At last he got up and resumed his walk. Next moment he started and looked at the ground again. He quickened his pace, and then once more stopped and looked. He stood stock-still and covered his face. He called aloud upon heaven to break the nightmare or to let him understand what was happening. A trail of mutilated frogs lay along the edge of the island. Picking his footsteps with care, he followed it. He counted ten, fifteen, twenty: and the twenty-first brought him to a place where the wood came down to the water’s edge. He went into the wood and came out on the other side. There he stopped dead and stared. Weston, still clothed but without his pith helmet, was standing about thirty feet away: and as Ransom watched he was tearing a frog—quietly and almost surgically inserting his forefinger, with its long sharp nail, under the skin behind the creature’s head and ripping it open. Ransom had not noticed before that Weston had such remarkable nails. Then he finished the operation, threw the bleeding ruin away, and looked up. Their eyes met.
“If Ransom said nothing, it was because he could not speak. He saw a man who was certainly not ill, to judge from his easy stance and the powerful use he had just been making of his fingers. He saw a man who was certainly Weston, to judge from his height and build and coloring and features. In that sense he was quite recognizable. But the terror was that he was also unrecognizable. He did not look like a sick man: but he looked very like a dead one. The face which he raised from torturing the frog had that terrible power which the face of a corpse sometimes has of simply rebuffing every conceivable human attitude one can adopt towards it. The expressionless mouth, the unwinking stare of the eyes, something heavy and inorganic in the very folds of the cheek, said clearly: ‘I have features as you have, but there is nothing in common between you and me.’ It was this that kept Ransom speechless. What could you say—what appeal or threat could have any meaning—to that? And now, forcing its way up into consciousness, thrusting aside every mental habit and every longing not to believe, came the conviction that this, in fact, was not a man: that Weston’s body was kept, walking and undecaying, in Perelandra by some wholly different kind of life, and that Weston himself was gone.”
Excerpt From: C. S. Lewis. “Perelandra.” HarperCollins Publishers, 1943. iBooks.
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This passage has passed through my mind quite a bit as I contemplate the world in which I live. We have seen evil in many forms, either indirectly or (God forbid) directly, whether in our study of 20th Century history or in reading the news media. Whether it is one person’s torture of another, or the genocide of Nazi Germany, militarist Japan, Stalinist Russia, or down to ISIS today, we pretty much know what is evil when we see it. My thought is that there is an evil that creeps into a man or a society or a culture, or what have you, that is born of hatred, anger, etc. But then there is an evil like the one Lewis describes above — cold, calculating, almost passionless. Whereas there are evil deeds that are done by certain people, there is also evil deeds that we end up describing as “diabolical,” or that the person or people are possessed. I can almost “wrap my head around” evil deeds born of passion, but what fills me more with dread is passionless evil, calculated evil, cold evil.
Of course, there are those who do not ascribe evil to a spiritual cause — a devil, if you will. There are even Christians and others who avoid the thought of some sort of “other being” that is able to exert its will or influence us. Be that as it may, I do believe that there is a being that has set itself in opposition to God, and whose purpose is the destruction of Creation and especially the destruction of the pinnacle of God’s creation, Mankind. And this theme, I believe, runs all through Lewis’ “Perelandra” or “Space” trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength). It is also a central part of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
My thoughts are incomplete here. I am just offering my thoughts to whoever happens upon this post, for further pondering. But this evil is certainly present in our world today, if not in possession, then at least in influence. People may disagree with me on how I think it is manifest today, but any thinking person would still admit that there is a force of evil in our world today, and has been in ages past, which the rational mind cannot comprehend. But if we ignore what is happening around us, we do so at our peril.