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Mark Twain and the 21st Century
November 16, 2005 7:54 AM   Subscribe

"The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them." - Mark Twain
posted by mischief (33 comments total)

 
a single link to an op-ed? ACE.
posted by keswick at 8:09 AM on November 16, 2005


Sucks you couldn't go back in time and post a snark before mischief even posted the thread, eh? That'd be a pretty good feature. Much better than that [!] thing
posted by chunking express at 8:17 AM on November 16, 2005


i'd prefer the feature that would allow me to reach through the monitor and slap you silly.
posted by keswick at 8:27 AM on November 16, 2005


What the fuck is going on today?
posted by Mr T at 8:28 AM on November 16, 2005


I have given up that fight, and now I embrace SLOEs.
posted by mischief at 8:28 AM on November 16, 2005


Did someone's feelings get hurt by a post quote that could be construed as critical of conservatives?
I'm sure Mr. Twain didn't mean to give you offense.
:-)
posted by nofundy at 8:43 AM on November 16, 2005


you are all sockpuppets
posted by poppo at 8:48 AM on November 16, 2005


yer mom's a sock puppet

nofundy: yeah, you got me all figured out. i'm a rabid conservative.
posted by keswick at 8:50 AM on November 16, 2005


Did someone's feelings get hurt by a post quote that could be construed as critical of conservatives?
I'm sure Mr. Twain didn't mean to give you offense.
:-)
posted by nofundy at 11:43 AM EST on November 16 [!]


The article's ok, but I think this could use more meat to be a good FPP. Maybe some links on Mark Twain's background, political views and stances, etc.
posted by unreason at 8:50 AM on November 16, 2005


Mark Twain was an arch-liberal and dedicated defender of human rights, wildly ahead of his time, his one deviation from his firm belief in universal sufferage and tolerance was a contrarian view that gay men should not be allowed to marry each other (yes, oddly enough, at the time when most would assume America was at its most conservative gay marriage was actually accepted, nay, enouraged by the general public). His most famous quote regarding this stance is:

The only gay dude I'M marrying is a dumb broad with a big veiny rack!*


Strange man, hated children, but loved stick candy and hobbyhorses.

*as always, thanks to achewood.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:02 AM on November 16, 2005


Maybe Matt needs to just shut down the site for a week or two to give everyone a time out to think about what makes a good FPP, and how to respond to them.

I think everyone is embracing the hate a little too much around here.
posted by Balisong at 9:12 AM on November 16, 2005


"Does the human being reason?" Twain asks. "No, he thinks, muses, reflects, but doesn't reason. Thinks about a thing; rehearses its statistics and its parts and applies to them what other people on his side of the question have said about them. ...

"He doesn't want to know the other side. He wants arguments and statistics for his side, and nothing more."


Sounds like 90% of MetaFilter.
posted by rocket88 at 9:17 AM on November 16, 2005


"The radical of one century is the conservative of the next..."

That makes more sense than the writer of this seems to realize.

I'll take the radicals of yesterday, please. They made more sense than the radicals of today or the conservatives of their time.
posted by koeselitz at 9:27 AM on November 16, 2005


Sounds like 90% of anywhere, rocket88. We all like to believe that our personal affinity groups are exceptions and we're all wrong.
posted by jonmc at 9:43 AM on November 16, 2005


chunking express : "Sucks you couldn't go back in time and post a snark before mischief even posted the thread, eh?"

Actually, you can *cough*
posted by Gyan at 9:44 AM on November 16, 2005


I can sneeze too.
posted by chunking express at 9:49 AM on November 16, 2005


What I want is a Meta-MetaFilter-Filter, with which we can ignore peoples' sucky "this FPP sucks!" replies.
posted by Foosnark at 9:50 AM on November 16, 2005


That comment sucks, foosnark!


(Er...but lemme know if you guys ever design something like that...)
posted by darkstar at 10:04 AM on November 16, 2005


I think michief is having a bit of fun, asking us to slay him with the arrows of incivility. Oh, the irony, the irony!
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:32 AM on November 16, 2005


Foosnark: "What I want is a Meta-MetaFilter-Filter, with which we can ignore peoples' sucky "this FPP sucks!" replies."

I have one of those. I don't use it anymore, though, because I was lonely.
posted by Plutor at 10:52 AM on November 16, 2005


I'll be your friend Plutor.
But you need to know keswick probably hates me.
posted by nofundy at 12:10 PM on November 16, 2005


"Mark Twain was an arch-liberal and dedicated defender of human rights, wildly ahead of his time" - posted by Divine_Wino

So he'd be a conservative today.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:42 PM on November 16, 2005


So he'd be a conservative today.

Ah least partially. Liberals are the US's conservatives, today. It's conservatives in the US that are the radicals. But of course, they are reactionary, so that confuses things.

It's all gone to pot. Or something.
posted by teece at 12:53 PM on November 16, 2005


Mmmm....pot.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:56 PM on November 16, 2005


Mischief and Nofundy, I always thought that quote was
actually critical of both radicals and conservatives-- i.e., once the revolution succeeds, the radical becomes conservative and opposes further reform. Neither realizes how necessary the other is to his success.

My favorite Twain site.
posted by notmtwain at 2:17 PM on November 16, 2005


Divine Wino, what moved you to include that quote? Or to invent that history? And what the hell does Achewood have to do with Mark Twain?
posted by notmtwain at 2:38 PM on November 16, 2005


I think notmtwain is right, too. The quote is part of Twain's super-cynnicism. I don't think he really identified completely with either camp. Twain's cynicism is the hard earned kind: he was a genuine, empathetic human being who got kicked square in the nuts by the world. He wasn't a faux cynic, like these kids today.
posted by teece at 2:41 PM on November 16, 2005


Metafilter: All gone to pot (pass the cheetos)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:22 PM on November 16, 2005


"He wasn't a faux cynic, like these kids today."

Shyeah. Right. Whatever.

I don't know that Twain was a cynic. Or rather, I don't think he had completely given up as Gen X has appeared to (with admittedly good reasons). You have to be expecting something better to be a cynic.

He's been claimed by marxists, the Soviets loved him,
http://www.internationalist.org/marktwain3.html

http://www.marxists.de/culture/twain/noteach.htm

http://www.twainquotes.com/19600306.html

But, as much as he hated the robber barons and abuses in industry, he appreciated entrepreneurial opportunities. He referred to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as "capital," so confident of its commercial potential.
http://www.teach12.com/ttc/Assets/courseDescriptions/2567.asp

So he gets clamed by lots of people. I think he just told the truth mostly.

/sorry the links aren't formated, I can't do that on this machine.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:20 PM on November 16, 2005


The final two lines of Huckleberry Finn:

But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.

Huck is giving up on civilized people here: he doesn't think civilization is worth it. He's heading out to the territories, where he can leave the barbarism of civilization behind.

I think this is fairly indicative of Twain's world view, and that he is a real cynic in that sense, and he had real reason to be. Nineteenth Century America was not a pretty place.

Twain was not an uncaring man, by any means, far from it. But he seems to have more or less given up on the idea that humankind's better angels would win. That's why I think he was a real cynic, unlike a gen X'er, who might be a cynic because, well, I dunno, what do we have to compare to slavery?

I think Twain had given up on society. It was only by escaping it to the quasi-mystical West that Huck hoped to find something better. A lot of cynics have unplugged from a lot of shit, but they don't have the visceral reason to have given up on mankind that Twain did. First of all, you have to really believe in the goodness of people and be let down, and the feeling I get from most cynics is that they just don't care, and they never really cared. So that's what I was (very obliquely) getting at with the faux part. It's a misuse of the word cynic, probably, but I think calling empty, selfish cynics "faux cynics" and folks like Twain real cynics is cute. I can respect a "real cynic" like Twain. A "faux cynic," not so much.

Note: I am not a Twain scholar.
posted by teece at 12:48 AM on November 17, 2005


Samuel Langhorne Clemens is a national treasure that deserves respect, especially for his cynicism.
posted by nofundy at 9:33 AM on November 17, 2005


I think y'all mean something different from me when you say "cynic". I'll grant that Twain looks "cynical" through a certain lens, but I think he's clearly an optimist under the skin. If he weren't -- if he didn't believe that people could be better than they were -- he wouldn't have bothered trying to talk about the things he did.
posted by lodurr at 10:06 AM on November 17, 2005


Note: I am not a Twain scholar.

Aww for cryin...! *throws away notes*
posted by Smedleyman at 10:40 PM on November 17, 2005


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