Nervous System Loyalty

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Yen Lo approached human behavior in terms of fundamental components instead of metaphysical labels. His meaningful goal was to implant in the subject’s mind the predominant motive, which was that of submitting to the operator’s commands; to construct behavior which would at all times strive to put the operator’s exact intentions into execution as if the subject were playing a game or acting a part; and to cause a redirection of his movements by remote control through second parties, or third or fiftieth parties, twelve thousand miles removed from the original commands if necessary. The first thing a human being is loyal to, Yen Lo observed, is his own conditioned nervous system.

The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

Prophetic Fiction

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Nonetheless, her Johnny had become the only American in the country’s history of political villains, studding folk song and story, to inspire concomitant fear and hatred in foreigners, resident in their native countries. He blew his nose in the Constitution, he thumbed his nose at the party system or any other version of governmental chain of command. He personally charted the zigs and zags of American foreign policy at a time when the American policy was a monstrously heavy weight upon world history. To the people of Iceland, Peru, France, and Pitcairn Island the label of Iselinism stood for anything and everything that was dirty, backward, ignorant, repressive, offensive, anti-progressive, or rotten, and all of those adjectives must ultimately be seen as sincere tributes to any demagogue of any country on any planet.

The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

Bitter Necessary Lies

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“I can tell you that it was a very clear action for a night action, Mrs. Mavole,” Raymond said. Mr. Mavole sat on the other side of the bed and stared at the floor, his eyes feverish captives in black circles, his lower lip caught between his teeth, his hands clasped in prayer as he hoped he would not begin to cry again and start her crying. “You see, Captain Marco had sent up some low flares because we had to know where the enemy was. They knew where we were. Eddie, well—”

He paused, only infinitesimally, to try not to weep at the thought of how bitter, bitter, bitter it was to have to lie at a time like this, but she had sold the boy to the recruiters for this moment, so he would have to throw the truth away and pay her off. They never told The Folks Back Home about the filthy deaths—the grotesque, debasing deaths which were almost all the deaths in war.

The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

Importance of Guilt

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What is the consciousness of guilt but the arena floor rushing up to meet the falling trapeze artist? Without it, a bullet becomes a tourist flying without responsibility through the air. The consciousness of guilt gives a scent to humanity, a threat of putrefaction, the ultimate cosmetic. Without the consciousness of guilt, existence had become so bland in Paradise that Eve welcomed the pungency of Original Sin.

The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

Holes in Heaven’s Floor

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“Mr. Mavole,” Raymond said rapidly, “I thought that if it was O.K. with you maybe I could stop over in St. Louis on my way to Washington, you know? I thought, I mean it occurred to me that you and Mrs. Mavole might get some kind of peace out of it, some kind of relief, if we talked a little bit. About Eddie. You know? I mean I thought that was the least I could do.” There was a silence. Then Mr. Mavole began to make a lot of slobbering sounds so Raymond said roughly that he would wire when he knew what flight he would be on and he hung up the phone and felt like an idiot. Like an angry man with a cane who pokes a hole through the floor of heaven and is scalded by the joy that pours down upon him, Raymond had a capacity for using satisfactions against himself.

The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

Parenting Opportunity

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A car returned, it seemed to him almost at once, and Jocie had fetched her father along because it would give him such a good feeling to know that all of those warnings about the snakes in those woods had been just. A man has few enough opportunities like that when he assists in the raising of children, who must be hoisted on the pulley of one’s experience every morning to the top of the pole for a view of life as extensive as that day’s emotional climate would bear, then lowered again at sundown to be folded up and made to rest, and carried into their dreams with reverence.

The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

Surprised When War Comes Home

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They all cried. People can certainly carry on, he thought, holding her fat hand because she had asked him to, and feeling sure she was going to drop dead any minute. These were the people who let a war start, then they act surprised when their own son is killed. Mavole was a good enough kid. He certainly was a funny kid and with a sensational disposition but, what the hell, twenty thousand were dead out there so far on the American panel, plus the U.N. guys, and maybe sixty, eighty thousand more all shot up, and this fat broad seemed to think that Mavole was the only one who got it.

-The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

Forced Hypnosis

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“I am sure that all of you have heard that old wives’ tale,” Yen stated, “which is concerned with the belief that no hypnotized subject may be forced to do that which is repellent to his moral nature, whatever that is, or to his own best interests. That is nonsense, of course.

You note-takers might set down a reminder to consult Brenmen’s paper, ‘Experiments in the Hypnotic Production of Antisocial and Self-injurious injurious Behavior,’ or Wells’ 1941 paper which was titled, I believe, ‘Experiments in the Hypnotic Production of Crime,’ or Andrew Salter’s remarkable book, Conditioned Reflex Therapy, to name only three.

Or, if it offends you to think that only the West is studying how to manufacture more crime and better criminals against modern shortages, I suggest Krasnogorski’s Primary Violence Motivation or Serov’s The Unilateral Suggestion to Self-Destruction. For any of you who are interested in massive negative conditioning there is Frederic Wertham’s The Seduction of the Innocent, which demonstrates how thousands have been brought to antisocial actions through children’s cartoon books.

However, enough of that. You won’t read them anyway. The point I am making is that those who speak of the need for hypnotic suggestion to fit a subject’s moral code should revise their concepts. The conception of people acting against their own best interests should not startle us. We see it occasionally in sleepwalking and in politics, every day.”

-The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon