Monday, August 29, 2005

A Love Story

I am in love with a person other than my wife. There, I've said it: It's shocking, and I expect those who wear monocles to have them popping off of their eyes, while their top hats are simultanously suspended above their heads by surprise itself. And yet, that's not the most disturbing thing: It's a man. Yes, I can imagine you now, the simple exclaimation exuding from you, if harnessed, able to fuel mankind far longer than any oozy black liquid. And yet, this man most certainly has no idea of my admiration for him. That's because he's dead.

Am I a philandering homosexual necrophile? No. My love affair, while torrid, is merely one of affection for the work of my favorite author, Samuel Clements. Yes, Mark Twain is my secret love, or rather, his writing. As for the man himself, I would guess that he couldn't be the most pleasant of company, what with decomposition being what it is. And barring any sort of necromancy or Day of the Dead style action, I can't reasonably assume that he will be in the future. As an aside, I bet his corpse, dressed smartly in a new white seersucker suit, would make an excellent conversation piece once the initial awkwardness is surpassed.

"Our heroes are the men who do things which we recognize with regret and sometimes with a secret shame that we cannot do. We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself there would be no heroes."

What is it about his style that holds so much allure to me? His fairly brusque manner, simple and to the point, with an unrelenting view that made him both popular and controversial? Was it his blatant Americanism, so easy to define and defend in that period? His acerbic wit? The longevity of consistency of his humor? I can't say. All I know is that his works resonate with me. Also, his hair was awesome, and I can only hope one day to have a coiffure to equal a tenth of it.

"An author values a compliment even when it comes from a source of doubtful competency."

Indeed, I find that my own writings stray towards his, though I could never hope to approach it in substance. I am far more fond of an impressive word than he was, though the criteria has changed since his day: rejoice, blaze, tingle and exqusite were all common words for him; for us they are far too verbose- "thing" and "stuff" are our keywords, and we all make liberal use of them.

"The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."

We share some of the same feelings: Anti-imperialism, imagination, humor and a fondness for pirates that borders on the unhealthy. I have said that I am temporally displaced- it is true that I could envision myself enjoying a leisurely steamboat ride on a humid June day, watching towns roll slowly by. It's a conservative ideal to return to an idealized time- Twain lived in the era of slavery and Civil War, of factories with horrendous working conditions (no water cooler, even!), but there is still something innocent and good there. Perhaps I want the Disney version of Reconstruction-era America, complete with animatronic puppets that are vaguely creepy and $15 dollar sodas.

"Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates. "

Even in my love life, he has been instrumental. Throughout his life, he was madly in love with his wife, and it came through in his writing. My personal favorite is the Diary of Adam and Eve, in which Adam first reviles, than doesn't understand, then grows to love Eve. I strive for the same deep and abiding love in my own marriage.

"Wheresoever she was, there was Eden."

So I am afflicted with this disease, this great love for a person who lived a century before me, who could not imagine the world we live in, whose bitterness definitely exceeded mine, and who, if we were to meet, would undoubtedly tell me to gather up his bags and take them to his room. And yet I cannot help myself. Perhaps I should frame his poster and put it above my bed, so that I might lie back at night and wonder about what could be...

"Ah, well, I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God's fool, and all his works must be contemplated with respect."


At 3:53 AM, Blogger ChickyBabe said...

I think we have a case of hero worship here. I can see where you get your inspiration :).

At 4:42 PM, Blogger Knows It All said...

Much Respect to you here. A) this is well-developed post. B) you clearly have spent an good amount of time considering your authors. C) I think it is more than fair to say that his influence is apparent in your writing style. (but not in any cheap wanna-be knock-off sort of way.

Perhaps you are the reincarnate of him.

I do have to admit that I have never read his works, and from the quotes you share... I am feeling that I would get a headache. Too much processing....

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Mahd said...

Chickybabe, Absolutely. How can you hate a man who wears white suits?

Knows it all, Thanks so much for the compliments. The transition from 19th century writing to 21st century minds doesn't always go over well, but it suits me :)


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