That’s Going In the Quote Book #42

Sometimes, quotes make it into the book simply because I like the flow of the language. (I suspect most people would refer to them as ‘like poetry,’ but I’ve never been a fan of poetry, so I’ll use far more words to say essentially the same thing.) Anyway, today’s quote, from the film The Usual Suspects, is in the book primarily because I liked the way it felt as it travelled from my ears to my brain.

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world
that he didn’t exist.

It’s also a cool line from a great movie. But I’m not going to explain why, because it would require relaying pretty much the entire plot, and it still wouldn’t be enough to convey the true significance and impact of that one line. Plus it would give away the surprise which, if you’ve never seen the movie – and managed to avoid spoilers for 25+ years – I’m sure as hell not going to be the one to spoil for you.

If you haven’t seen The Usual Suspects, it’s worth a watch – although be warned, Kevin Spacey is in it, which I realize is problematic for many. But in my opinion, it’s not always necessary to understand the context that spawned the phrase, and this is one of those times.

Actually, ignoring the context can sometimes be the best part. I’m an atheist who studies religion rather a lot, so when I think about this quote, it tends to be from that perspective. Over the years, I’ve expanded on the idea. Now, when I hear, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist,” I follow it up in my head with, “And the greatest trick God ever pulled was convincing the world that he does.”

I don’t know that it’s particularly clever, or makes sense to anyone but me. But I do love how a line from a ’90s mystery movie resonated enough that 25 years later, I’m still thinking about it, and building on it.

And now even sharing it with others.

To see previous posts in my Quotes series, click here.

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