comedy

The Awesomeness of Mark Twain

Mark Twain was one of the most awesome, hilarious, ingenious and original people in modern history. I’ll discuss a few of his funniest or most favourable aspects.

Originality

One of the things I like about Mark Twain is his originality. He didn’t bow to popular belief or peer pressure and change his opinions accordingly. His opinions were his alone. As an example, read his comments on Da Vinci’s the Mona Lisa…

To me it was merely a serene and subdued face, and there an end. There might be more in it, but I could not find it. The complexion was bad; in fact, it was not even human; there are no people that color.

At the start of the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he wrote:

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

I don’t understand the motive behind this statement, but I’m guessing this was actually a challenge to attempt all the things he warned not to do.

Premature Obituary

On June 1, 1897, the New York Herald, a widely read and popular daily American newspaper wrote an article in which it stated that Mark Twain was on the verge of death and that his thinking facilities had already been completely compromised. Ironically, Mark Twain was alive and well at the time. In fact, it was Mark Twain’s cousin J.R Clemens who was severely ill and had probably been the cause of the New York Herald‘s mistake. In an article titled “Mark Twain Amused” published the very next day in another newspaper, the Journal, Mark Twain made history by writing this ingenious comedic masterpiece:

“The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

This statement has been misquoted in many ways but, in my opinion, the original is still the funniest and most befitting.

 

Hatred for Jane Austen

One of the aspects of Mark Twain I like the most was his hatred for Jane Austen and the hilarious way in which he expressed it. Here are a few of his quotes that illustrate how much he detested Jane Austen and her works:

“Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book.”

“Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her [Jane Austen] up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

“She makes me detest all her people, without reserve. Is that her intention? It is not believable. Then is it her purpose to make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters? That could be. That would be high art. It would be worth while, too. Some day I will examine the other end of her books and see.”

Perhaps it’s because I, too, share his prejudice towards Jane Austenish literature, but I find his statements to be humorous.

Interest in Science

Yes. Mark Twain was interested in science too. As I mentioned in a previous post, Mark Twain was a close friend of Nikola Tesla. Mark Twain also patented three inventions including the Elastic-Clasp Brassiere Strap which is used nowadays in women’s bras. In addition, Mark Twain also wrote one of the first novels related to time travel called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

Here is a letter Mark Twain wrote to Nikola Tesla. I’m dead serious…

Letter Mark Twain Tesla

 

This is beside the point but to be frank, I don’t think Tesla ever invented a “destructive terror” but still, he invented lots of other great things that have shaped the modern world.

What’s the Deal with Billions and Billions?

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Carl Sagan’s association with the term “billions and billions” is so popular that there’s actually a term called sagan which is synonymous to billions and billions. Sample usage: “There are sagans of stars in the Milky Way”. Ironically, although he often mentioned millions, trillion and miscellaneous -illions of things, Carl Sagan never actually used the term “billions and billions” exactly in Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. It was actually popularised by the comedian Johnny Carson who parodied Sagan. Luckily, Sagan took it to be good-natured humor and titled his last book Billions and Billions.

Here’s a collection of all the ‘-illions’ mentioned in Cosmos: A Personal Voyage:

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson faced a similar situation with the hilarious “We got a badass over here” meme nowadays. The meme is probably based on an interview he gave to the Youtube Channel BigThink, where he discussed Isaac Newton and his achievements. Once again, like Carl Sagan and the term billions and billions, Tyson never actually used the phrase “We got a badass over here” in the interview. It’s kind of hilariously unfortunate, in my opinion. 😀

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Here’s the original interview, where Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed Isaac Newton:

And here’s a video of Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing the meme, it’s hilarious: