tisdag 13 december 2011

Kort om Mark Twain

Mark Twain skulle nyligen ha fyllt 176 år, och förärades därför en Google-doodle [klickbar för förstoring]:
Bilden illustrerar självfallet då Tom Sawyer vackert demonstrerade skillnaden mellan tvång och frivillighet genom att låta kamraterna måla staketet åt honom.

Twain illustrerar också i just Tom Sawyer med all önskvärd elegans att samhället inte är ett nollsummespel och att båda parter vinner på utbyte - från sidan 67-68:

" Well why don't you ? Becuz you know mighty well you can't. This is a pretty early tick, I reckon. It's the first one I've seen this year."
" Say Huck—I'll give you my tooth for him."
"Less see it."
Tom got out a bit of paper and carefully unrolled it. Huckleberry viewed it wistfully. The temptation was very strong. At last he said: 
" Is it genuwyne? "
Tom lifted his lip aud showed the vacancy.
"Well, all right," said Huckleberry, " it's a trade."
Tom enclosed the tick in the percussion-cap box that had lately been the pinch-bug's prison, and the boys separated, each feeling wealthier than before.

Gällande just Tom Sawyer och Huckleberry Finn så är det - förutom då självfallet att det är fantastiska böcker - intressant hur självklart det ansågs att barn är kompetenta och kan ta vara på sig själva.

Och angående nollsummespelet så var Twain uttalat framstegsvänlig - exempel från ett brev till Walt Whitman 1889, från Letters of Note [brevet är egentligen omöjligt att klippa i, så det rekommenderas definitivt att läsa hela]:

You have lived just the seventy years which are greatest in the world's history & richest in benefit & advancement to its peoples. These seventy years have done much more to widen the interval between man & the other animals than was accomplished by any five centuries which preceded them.

What great births you have witnessed! The steam press, the steamship, the steel ship, the railroad, the perfected cotton-gin, the telegraph, the phonograph, the photograph, photo-gravure, the electrotype, the gaslight, the electric light, the sewing machine, & the amazing, infinitely varied & innumerable products of coal tar, those latest & strangest marvels of a marvelous age. And you have seen even greater births than these; for you have seen the application of anesthesia to surgery-practice, whereby the ancient dominion of pain, which began with the first created life, came to an end in this earth forever; you have seen the slave set free, you have seen the monarchy banished from France, & reduced in England to a machine which makes an imposing show of diligence & attention to business, but isn't connected with the works. Yes, you have indeed seen much — but tarry yet a while, for the greatest is yet to come. Wait thirty years, & then look out over the earth! You shall see marvels upon marvels added to these whose nativity you have witnessed; & conspicuous above them you shall see their formidable Result — Man at almost his full stature at last! — & still growing, visibly growing while you look. In that day, who that hath a throne, or a gilded privilege not attainable by his neighbor, let him procure his slippers & get ready to dance, for there is going to be music.

Och angående det ständigt aktuella kvacksalveriet - återigen från Letters of Note:

The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet; also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree, and scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link.

Twain är som bekant en citatmaskin, och så begåvad att det faktiskt känns en smula märkligt att späda ut hans ord med mitt slask däremellan, så istället för att dravla mer så blir det ett sista citat - från twainquotes.com:

The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble, through the rivaly of schools and creeds that are anxious to obtain official recognition, and there is great danger that our people will lose our independence of thought and action which is the cause of much of our greatness, and sink into the helplessness of the Frenchman or German who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him when naked, to prescribe when his child may be born and when he may die, and, in fine, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise.