Marginalia, no.214

The devil is a citizen of every country, but only in our own are we in constant peril of an introduction to him. That is democracy.

~ Ambrose Bierce, Disintroductions

According to Bierce, we can blame the Declaration of Independence when we fall into casual acquaintance with persons we’d prefer not to know. For example, I once shook hands with the Angel of Death in a hospital elevator in Boise, Idaho. I was fifteen at the time but I recall that he was well-mannered and looked something like you might expect: ancient and bony, with a firm, cold grip. He was often at the hospital, he said, visiting friends. Bierce suggests a practice of disintroductions to remedy unfortunate meetings like this. If it could be arranged, I suppose a disintroduction to Death or the devil might be worth something. So long as we could be sure to stay strangers.

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