Tag Archives: Mark Twain

MARK TWAIN: THOUGHTS ABOUT DEATH

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MARK TWAIN on death

Death is the starlit strip between the companionship of yesterday and the reunion of tomorrow.
– on monument erected to Mark Twain & Ossip Gabrilowitsch

All say, “How hard it is that we have to die”– a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy of the Extraordinary Twins

Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy of the Extraordinary Twins

The Impartial Friend: Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all–the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.
– Mark Twain, last written statement; Moments with Mark Twain, Paine

Pity is for the living, envy is for the dead.
Following the Equator

Death, the refuge, the solace, the best and kindliest and most prized friend and benefactor of the erring, the forsaken, the old and weary and broken of heart.
– Adam speech, 1883

Life was not a valuable gift, but death was. Life was a fever-dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain; a dream that was a nightmare-confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations, happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, griefs, perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats,humiliations, and despairs–the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity; but death was sweet, death was gentle, death was kind; death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness; death was man’s best friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free.
Letters from the Earth

Manifestly, dying is nothing to a really great and brave man.
– Letter to Olivia Clemens, 7/1/1885 (referring to General Grant)

How lovely is death; and how niggardly it is doled out.
– Letter to Olivia Clemens, 8/19/1896

It is a solemn thought: dead, the noblest man’s meat is inferior to pork.
More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927

[I am] not sorry for anybody who is granted the privilege of prying behind the curtain to see if there is any contrivance that is half so shabby and poor and foolish as the invention of mortal life.
– Letter to Mary Mason Fairbanks, 1894

I think we never become really and genuinely our entire and honest selves until we are dead–and not then until we have been dead years and years. People ought to start dead, and they would be honest so much earlier.
Mark Twain in Eruption

To die one’s self is a thing that must be easy, & light of consequence; but to lose a part of one’s self–well, we know how deep that pang goes, we who have suffered that disaster, received that wound which cannot heal.
– Letter to Will Bowen, 11/4/1888

Favored above Kings and Emperors is the stillborn child.
– Notebook, #42 1898

All people have had ill luck, but Jairus’s daughter & Lazarus the worst.
– Notebook #42, 1898

No real estate is permanently valuable but the grave.
– Notebook #42, 1898

Death is so kind, so benignant, to whom he loves; but he goes by us others & will not look our way.
– Letter to W. D. Howells, 12/20/1898

A distinguished man should be as particular about his last words as he is about his last breath. He should write them out on a slip of paper and take the judgment of his friends on them. He should never leave such a thing to the last hour of his life, and trust to an intellectual spurt at the last moment to enable him to say something smart with his latest gasp and launch into eternity with grandeur.
– “The Last Words of Great Men”, 1869

Death….a great Leveler — a king before whose tremendous majesty shades & differences in littleness cannot be discerned — an Alp from whose summit all small things are the same size.
– Letter to Olivia Clemens, 10/15/1871

HOW TO WRITE

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writing One contemporary writer who inspired me to write books is Neil Gaiman.  I’ve never had the honor of meeting him personally.  However, I’ve read many of his books. To that degree I feel as though I can perceive and share the essence of who he is, as a spiritual being.  His books, American Gods, Anansi Boys, Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book are among my favorites. His books are marvels of mythological wit and wisdom.

MarkTwainsAutobiographyLikewise, I never met Mark Twain personally.  However,  I’ve read nearly all of his books, including the 1,496 page Autobiography of Mark Twain. Through his words he purveys his personal passion and pain; convictions about life, joy and empathetic anguish. Through his words, I discovered the tragedy of his realization, late in his life, that human existence is an ironic comedy of  cruelty, stupidity and despair.  Laugh or cry: it’s all the same.

I have been asked by several people: “How do you write books?”.

My advise is simple:

1) Live your life and be true to your own observations.

2) Write about what you know and believe in your soul.

3) Read the minds of Great Thinkers through their books.

The two profound and prolific writers I site above are exemplary (as well as hundreds of other literary masters too numerous to name individually), to wit:

4) Think and communicate your thoughts one word at a time in writing. Continue until you die.

May you survive in perpetuity through your words!

REINCARNATED AS A HUMAN BEING, AGAIN

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COMMENTS ON REINCARNATION and THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL, by famous thinkers, as these may be related to the life, death, memory erasure and reincarnation of souls on Earth:

Krishna – Bhagavad Gita  (5th Century B.C.E. or earlier)

“Learn thou! the Life is, spreading life through all; It cannot anywhere, by any means, Be anywise diminished, stayed, or changed. But for these fleeting frames which it informs with spirit deathless, endless, infinite, They perish. Let them perish, Prince! and fight! He who shall say, “Lo! I have slain a man!” He who shall think, “Lo! I am slain!” Those both know naught! Life cannot slay. Life is not slain!”

Socrates  (469 BC–399 BC) Classical Greek philosopher.

“I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence.”

Origen  (ca. 185–ca. 254) was an early Christian scholar, theologian, and one of the most distinguished of the early fathers of the Christian Church.)

“It can be shown that an incorporeal and reasonable being has life in itself independently of the body… then it is beyond a doubt bodies are only of secondary importance and arise from time to time to meet the varying conditions of reasonable creatures. Those who require bodies are clothed with them, and contrariwise, when fallen souls have lifted themselves up to better things their bodies are once more annihilated. They are ever vanishing and ever reappearing.”

Voltaire (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), Enlightenment writer and philosopher

“It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection.”

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.

“I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. We shall rise refreshed in the morning.” And, “Finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other always exist.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) American essayist

“It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals…and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some strange new disguise. The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.”

Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) American poet

“I know I am deathless. No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before. I laugh at what you call dissolution, and I know the amplitude of time.”

Helena Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 424 (12 August 1831— May 8, 1891)

“That which is part of our souls is eternal. . . Those lives are countless, but the soul or spirit that animates us throughout these myriads of existences is the same; and though “the book and volume” of the physical brain may forget events within the scope of one terrestrial life, the bulk of collective recollections can never desert the divine soul within us. Its whispers may be too soft, the sound of its words too far off the plane perceived by our physical senses; yet the shadow of events that were, just as much as the shadow of the events that are to come, is within its perceptive powers, and is ever present before its mind’s eye.”

Herman Hesse (2 July 1877—9 August 1962)

“He saw all these forms and faces in a thousand relationships become newly born. Each one was mortal, a passionate, painful example of all that is transitory. Yet none of them died, they only changed, were always reborn, continually had a new face: only time stood between one face and another.”

Jack London, author, best known for book “Call of the Wild”

“I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of millenniums. All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, promptings in me. Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born.”

Albert Schweitzer (14 January, 1875 – 4 September, 1965) Alsatian theologian, who  received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.

“Reincarnation contains a most comforting explanation of reality by means of which Indian thought surmounts difficulties which baffle the thinkers of Europe.”

Mark Twain  (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910) American Author

“I have been born more times than anybody except Krishna.”

Mahatma Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) leader of the Indian independence movement.

“I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace.”

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) Founder of the Ford Motor Company

“I adopted the theory of reincarnation when I was 26. Genius is experience. Some think to seem that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. I am in exact accord with the belief of Thomas Edison that spirit is immortal, that there is a continuing center of character in each personality. But I don’t know what spirit is, nor matter either. I suspect they are forms of the same thing. I never could see anything in this reputed antagonism between spirit and matter. To me this is the most beautiful, the most satisfactory from a scientific standpoint, the most logical theory of life. For thirty years I have leaned toward the theory of Reincarnation. It seems a most reasonable philosophy and explains many things. No, I have no desire to know what, or who I was once; or what, or who, I shall be in the ages to come. This belief in immortality makes present living the more attractive. It gives you all the time there is. You will always be able to finish what you start. There is no fever or strain in such an outlook. We are here in life for one purpose—to get experience. We are all getting it, and we shall all use it somewhere.”

General George S. Patton (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) U.S. Army officer

“Through the travail of the ages,
Midst the pomp and toil of war,
Have I fought and strove and perished,
Countless times upon this star.

So as through a glass, and darkly
The age long strife I see
Where I fought in many guises,
Many names, – but always me.”

________________________________________

Excerpted from the Introductory pages of the book VERMEER: PORTRAITS OF A LIFETIME, by Lawrence R. Spencer

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MARK TWAIN: COMMENTS ON THE HUMAN RACE

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Are the comments made about the human race more than 100 years ago by Mark Twain intended to be humorous, sarcastic or serious?

Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)  was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. Among his novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “The Great American Novel“.

“Why was the human race created? Or at least why wasn’t something creditable created in place of it? God had His opportunity; He could have made a reputation. But no, He must commit this grotesque folly–a lark which must have cost him a regret or two when He came to think it over & observe effects.” – Letter to William Dean Howells, 25 January 1900

“As to the human race. There are many pretty and winning things about the human race. It is perhaps the poorest of all the inventions of all the gods but it has never suspected it once. There is nothing prettier than its naive and complacent appreciation of itself. It comes out frankly and proclaims without bashfulness or any sign of a blush that it is the noblest work of God. It has had a billion opportunities to know better, but all signs fail with this ass. I could say harsh things about it but I cannot bring myself to do it–it is like hitting a child.” — Autobiographical dictation, 25 June 1906

“We all belong to the nasty stinking little human race, & of course it is not nice for God’s beloved vermin to scoff at each other… Oh, we are a nasty little lot–& to think there are people who would like to save us & continue us. It won’t happen if I have any influence.” — Letter to William Dean Howells, 2 April 1899

 “Can any plausible excuse be furnished for the crime of creating the human race?” — from The New York Times, “Hartford Museum Purchases Barrels Full of Twain’s Old Books,” July 31, 1997