Susan McCloskey gave a two-part lecture on "The Root of All Evil," to a packed room. In the two-part presentation, she discussed Ayn Rand's notion of evil as rooted in an evasion of reality and how she dramatized this ethical abstraction in the particular experiences of the characters in her novels. McCloskey also made interesting comparisons between Hannah Arendt's descriptions of Adolf Eichmann and Ayn Rand's characterization of evil.

Their description of the banality of evil reminds me of a passage from C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters. After positing that religous art tends to portray angels with feathered wings and demons with membraned wings because "most men like birds better than bats," Lewis added:

"I like bats much better than bureaucrats. I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of 'Admin.' The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid 'dens of crime' that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps or labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern. "

After earning her Ph.D. from Princeton, McCloskey taught English literature at Vassar College. She is currently president of McCloskey Writing Consultants.

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