“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
This memorable line is uttered in the movie The Usual Suspects by Roger Kint, a suspect being questioned by the LAPD about a heist gone wrong which led to the murder of a crime gang member.
During his interrogation, Kint weaves a compelling story of a shadowy, malevolent figure behind the heist – Keyser Söze, of whom all the other gang members were deathly afraid.
According to Kint, none in the gang knew who Söze really was – but that he was definitely the murderer.
Kint seems an unlikely criminal, a hunched over, nervy character debilitated by cerebral palsy.
After extensive interrogation, he is released by the LAPD. Kint begins limping back to his car, but the further he gets from the police department, the straighter his gait and the faster and longer his stride becomes.
It turns out he was Keyser Söze all along. He did an amazing job convincing people otherwise.
Thought does an amazing job in convincing us that our experience is coming from somewhere else, that it is not the guilty party.
It disguises itself so cleverly that we can be fooled for years into believing that all manner of elements outside of us are most likely to be responsible for our feelings.
This innocent misunderstanding causes us to believe we are separate from the experience, the victim of it.
But the truth is without the capacity to be aware and to think, we can know nothing of these external factors. We can have no experience of them. Experience is always an inside job.
Look past the usual suspects and look to the one that so often looks the least likely.
The greatest trick, indeed.