Saturday, August 06, 2005

A Blasphemer Reports From Purgatory - Mark Twain

Every now and then that SDAI-Tech1 person invites me to leave an entry on his blog. It's flattering, most certainly, and I spend the afternoon thinking up things I've wished to say about current events on Earth since I left it.

For the record the name is Twain, Mark. Or for those who are averse to pseudonyms I also answer to Samuel Clemens. Sure, I can see you now, the wrinkles on your forehead and your lips pursed in disbelief,"But he's dead...isn't he?". Well I hate to repeat myself, but reports of my death are highly exaggerated. I never expected much in the way of an afterlife and most folks who did were quite certain they knew my destination...the fiery pits of hell.

I'm pleased to report that my afterlife has been nothing short of breathtaking. I'm here with Livvy and she gives her kindest regards. As always she is a bit concerned about what I'm going to say. Like the New York Times, you never know exactly what I'm going to say, and we both share a penchant for ignoring things like facts whenever they become too burdensome. Livvy was my editor and a damn fine one. I'm certain I might've left the earth far sooner, probably hanging on some tree or wearing tar and feathers, if she hadn't proof-read my manuscripts and correspondence.

Truth you see is never popular. Truth is the neglected child, ignored by her parents because she never quarreled, resented by her sisters because of her purity and sitting at home on Saturday night with no suitors for much the same reason. Truth and I have a strange relationship. She befriended me, when all doubted me and I spoke up for her on occasion when the spirit moved me. At other times, she looked on as I twisted her words and dressed her up gaudily for a night on the town in front of the public. She never once complained (which is so unlike most women) at my behavior and always remained a friend.

Yes, it's hard to believe I'm really here composing this text. My reputation precedes me as does this fellow who so kindly invited me to speak. Between the two of us there is hardly a shred of credibility left to set spark to. Messages from beyond the grave aren't yet in vogue. Sure in my time there were seances and that sort of thing, but nothing so concrete as appearing on the internet in someone's blog that is instantly communicated to all corners of the earth.

To be quite honest, SDAI and I go way back. Way, way back. He's a decent sort of fellow once you get to know him. Some might say he's stand-offish and aloof, but those folks haven't seen him as I have and so only see the same caution one sees in the eyes of a stag when one first approaches it. The stag doesn't hate you, he doesn't even know you. He's merely cautious, considering his sphere of wisdom, such caution is a very good thing. The older stag has dodged a few bullets, outrun a few wolves and generally might be expected to have a bit of experience. He's not going to greet each stranger like some curious newborn.

But that is not what you want to hear. If Mark Twain has returned surely he something important to share! Again, I'm flattered you should think so. Most of my writing was the epitome of irrelevance and certainly never was valued much as words go. You need only look on ebay to see how utterly irrelevant and worthless my words are to those alive today. I used to be worth about several dollars a pound, but now I'm hardly worth a dollar a bushel. I fully expect folks to be paid to take my books off some poor blighted booksellers shelves in the near future.

America's foremost humorist! That's a title I held for nearly half a century. I have never found it hard to find humor in the human race. It's hard for man not to be a humorist if he has eyes and opens them every now and then to take a look around him. The title died with me. Now you have stand up comedians. You have political commentators and you have columnists. A humorist is as to a comedian as the Eiffel tower is to the aerial antenna on your automobile. One is stately, unique and dignified and the other is commonplace, and often covered with dirt from its excursions near the gutter. Comedians are certainly not humorists. That is why I accepted the invitation to return here. There is a dignity in blogging that is very similar to my own irreverent ramblings. It is much more suited to the man of refined taste or at least the man who thinks his tastes are refined.

I suppose I should comment some on the events of 2005. What would Twain think? What would he say? Livvy and I often sit and watch something like your television sets and we can tune in the earth and its activities. It would be depressing, were I still on earth and saw the abysmal state of affairs, but here it is merely eye-opening and informative. Humor seems to survive death, but hate, fear and frustration are left back on earth. And so thankful I am that humor survives death, else I would have no emotions left to turn to when reviewing the goings on of the human race.

President Bush gives a plug to intelligent design? If mankind were the byproduct of intelligent design you would think there would be more to show for it after all this time. Man is haphazardly put together at best. His judgment is poor, his moral instinct is always out of service, his body is beset with all sorts of ailments from the minor ones such as dandruff and halitosis to the major ones such as cancer and dystrophy. Man kills other men unendingly, he spends most of his life working to pay for material objects he longs for, knowing all the time that they will someday be of absolutely no use to him. He spends almost no time at all contemplating the folly of such behavior or pursuing things like knowledge which may be of use to him, and can be expected to continue in this pattern for the foreseeable future. How can this be an intelligent design? It is so beset with flaws and foibles it shows almost an uncanny lack of intelligence at all! Only man in his glorious imperfection could perceive his design as intelligent. Only man can look at his history and the history of his world and shout, "This is no accident! This clearly shows evidence of intelligent design!" So the President can be excused this lack of clarity, after all...he is only human.

What of this business in Iraq? What of this terror? In my time we had troops in the Philippines. America was bringing democracy and freedom to the backward savages. How much has really changed? Saddam clearly was an unsavory character and has all the normal human flaws and then some. It would be nice change to see a leader without a longer than normal checklist of human flaws but that is like asking for a banana without peels or a French man with manners or even a humorist without a bad analogy. Such things are an aberration, a freak of nature and are not to be expected or even hoped for by the rational person.

As also should be expected my time to relate is limited. Livvy is already anxious to make any needed alteration or alleviate altogether agitated antipathy or add appropriate alliteration.

From "purgatory" I remain your faithful humorist,

Mark Twain