Chamblee54

The Revenge Of Samuel Clemens

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on July 17, 2010







Mark Twain left earth to take care of itself on April 21, 1910. Now that 100 years have passed, his uncensored autobiography is about to be published. As True Slant tells the tale, Reports of Mark Twain’s resurrection are greatly exaggerated.

Samuel Clemens is an icon of americana, his books a staple of high school english. The clever sayings of Mr. Twain are quoted to this day. On his death in 1910, President William H. Taft said
“Mark Twain gave real intellectual enjoyment to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come. He never wrote a line that a father could not read to a daughter.”
The White House predecessor of Mr. Taft was Teddy Roosevelt. Mr. Roosevelt became famous as a result of what Mr. Twain called “the iniquitous Cuban-Spanish War”. When the newly conquered Philippines did not greet the Americans as liberators, a brutal little war broke out. There were reports of massacres of women and children by American troops. This conflict led Mr. Twain to write The War Prayer, which would not be published until after he was dead.

The truth is, Mark Twain was a rascal, with many sharp opinions about religion, big business, and war. As Henry L. Mencken wrote
” Instead of being a mere entertainer of the mob, he was…a destructive satirist of the utmost pungency and relentlessness, and the most bitter critic of American platitude and delusion, whether social, political or religious, that ever lived.” His present day image of Colonel Sanders, played by Grandpa Walton, is far from the mark.
But then, Grandpa Walton is not what many think. He was played by Will Geer, whose birth name was William Aughe Ghere . Mr. Geer was a member of the Communist Party, who organized a violent dockworkers strike in San Francisco. The co organizer of that strike was Mr. Geer’s boyfriend, Harry Hay.

Getting back to Mark Twain, it seems like some people don’t like to have their heroes tarnished by reality. True Slant wrote a feature that is the basis of this post. ( The text part anyway. The pictures are from The Library of Congress . HT to dangerous minds. ) It seems like when the True Slant author, Mark Dery, posted a link to his article on Facebook, Chaos ensued.

Weekend Update: Apparently, some Bronze-Age bible troll reported my Facebook link to this essay as “abusive,” presumably because Twain was an atheist and Huckleberry Finn, one of the most banned books in a nation that stinks to heaven of god-bothering, is the devil’s handiwork. Now, due to Facebook’s guilty-until-proven-innocent logic—a rule of thumb that wins the Idi Amin Dada Award for enlightened online governance—I’m unable to repost. Anything. Whether you like Twain or my work or not, I hope you’ll consider reposting a link to this page on your Facebook page as a way of saying you support free speech. If that sounds like product placement, mea culpa maxima.)
((YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Facebook appears to have repealed its ban on my links, at least for the moment, restoring the link to this article. Heartfelt thanks to all who stood with me in free-speech solidarity by reposting a link to this essay on their FB pages. Twain would be proud of you!

In the sandbox epic Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance , a philosophical ramble detours on the concept of mythos over logos. The concept is that people, when presented with information that disproves there illusion, will continue to believe in the illusion. This would seem to be the case here. The inspiring story of Mark Twain is threatened by the reality of the writers last work. (Actually, this autobiography was dictated to a stenographer, rather than written.) People would rather feel warm and fuzzy about a myth, than read the truths of the mythmaker.




16 Responses

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  1. I Write Like « Chamblee54 said, on July 18, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    […] and it is apparent that PG is performing in a new arena. The last post by PG was about Mark Twain , a fine author to be compared to. After weeding out the quotes, PG fed the text into the window. […]

  2. listener said, on July 19, 2010 at 2:29 am

    Thanks for the great photos of Samuel L. Clemens. And your comments were right on the Mark! :) He is probably most remembered for all the wrong things, when in fact he was one of the great voices speaking against man’s inhumanity to man, and many of his rants are as applicable to today’s world as they were to his own.

  3. Statistical Belief « Chamblee54 said, on August 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    […] warming denial, a cesspool of lies and statistics. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. . Pictures of Mark Twain were recently […]

  4. […] warming denial, a cesspool of lies and statistics. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. . Pictures of Mark Twain were recently posted. This is a […]

  5. Statistical Lies « Chamblee54 said, on August 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    […] pictures were taken by Ansel Adams at a relocation camp for Japanese Amercans during World War II. Pictures of Mark Twain were recently posted. This is a […]

  6. Lies Darn Lies Statistics | Chamblee54 said, on August 1, 2013 at 7:58 am

    […] pictures were taken by Ansel Adams at a relocation camp for Japanese Amercans during World War II. Pictures of Mark Twain were recently posted. This is a repeat […]

  7. Ed Darrell said, on August 1, 2013 at 9:06 am

    The photo of Twain with two other guys?

    MarkSweep: “[George Alfred Townsend (left) photographed with Mark Twain (middle) and David Gray.”

    http://ookaboo.com/o/pictures/topic/11891654/George_Alfred_Townsend

    • chamblee54 said, on August 1, 2013 at 9:26 am

      That is the only picture I have seen of Mr. Clemens before his hair turned white.

      • Ed Darrell said, on August 1, 2013 at 9:44 am

        You’ve got one more of him with darker hair in your collection here!

        Sam Clemens loved photography — oddly, only one movie of him ever made, but that one by Thomas Edison himself — and there are a number of photos of him before his hair was mostly gray.

        Time Magazine ran a gallery of photos — at least four show him before he was mostly gray:
        http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1819876,00.html

        At least one more, with two daughters, here, at the “official” site for Mark Twain: http://www.cmgww.com/historic/twain/about/photos.htm

        Here’s a shirtless Mark Twain in 1883, gray just starting to spread (but also in his chest hair!): http://www.openculture.com/2013/02/mark_twain_shirtless_in_1883_photo.html

        I’m not entirely sure of the provenance of this photo, but it looks like it’s from an old newspaper: http://southernmemoriesandupdates.com/2011/beyond-the-south/legendary-writer-mark-twain-to-launch-news-magazine/

        I really like this 1894 photo — probably a double exposure — of Twain in the laboratory of Nicola Tesla, with Tesla in the background. Maybe this was what turned his hair white? http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/mark-twain-and-nikolai-tesla/

        I’ll wager there are more, in the Library of Congress collection, in Nevada archives, and in San Francisco in some collections.

      • chamblee54 said, on August 1, 2013 at 10:14 am

        Had Grecian Formula been invented while he was alive?

      • Ed Darrell said, on August 1, 2013 at 11:30 am

        Had Grecian formula been invented, and had it been a spa-type experience, I’ll wager Twain would have tried it.

        But, no. Hair dye was henna, in some cultures, and other “paints” used on stage.

        It’s interesting that the iconic Twain is the white haired guy in the white suit — it’s an image made famous when he testified in Washington on a copyright bill, and one he actively cultivated afterward.

        But he was also a ham. Is suspect there are dozens of photos poorly known hiding out there. The guy lived a long, big life, in a lot of places. Last year I heard an interview on KERA-FM with a guy who’d written a book about Twain’s friendship with San Francisco firefighters, many of whom were big characters on their own, and whose stories often found their way into San Francisco newspapers through Twain’s pen. Just try to find that history somewhere else.

        Or, in Roughing It, you can read of Twain’s adventures with Brigham Young in Salt Lake City (“chloroform in print” Twain called the Book of Mormon). I hear stories there are collections of photos of Twain’s brief stay there, on his way to Nevada. That would be long before any gray hair.

      • chamblee54 said, on August 1, 2013 at 11:38 am

        Here is more of Mr. Clemens. https://chamblee54.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/mark-twain-double-feature/

  8. […] With other entertaining ramblings, Chamblee54 features a collection of often, rare photos of Twain (“often-rare?”) […]

  9. […] pictures were taken by Ansel Adams at a relocation camp for Japanese Amercans during World War II. Pictures of Mark Twain were recently posted. This is a […]

  10. Mystics And Statistics | Chamblee54 said, on August 2, 2016 at 6:44 am

    […] pictures were taken by Ansel Adams at a relocation camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. Pictures of Mark Twain were recently posted. This is a […]

  11. […] would rather feel warm and fuzzy about a myth, than read the truths of the mythmaker. This is a repost. A few things have happened since 2010. Autobiography of Mark Twain has seen three volumes released. […]


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