Thursday, January 15, 2015

Quoth the Writer

Normally, I've quoted writers I agree with often, even virtually always. Let's change that up a bit today. Mark Twain is a guy I often find entertaining, and I think one of his strengths is the good job he does of communicating that human nature stays the same, even across a couple of centuries. Here are some goodies:

  • To succeed in life you need two things: ignorance and confidence.
  • The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
  • Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
  • You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
  • If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
  • Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.
  • My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
Some quotes from Mr. Twain, though, leave me going, "Hmmm." My commentary in parentheses:
  • Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. (How I love the first two, but best wake that conscience up.)
  • Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. (Nah -- you wouldn't like the company. I don't care how many of them were your friends on Earth.)
  • If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first. (I know "do the biggest job first" is common advice, but I do the piddly stuff first and then tackle the big one. I like knowing there's not a bunch more to do when I get done with it.)
  • Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. (Okay, granted. Don't follow the majority blindly. But I've had too much experience with two, five, or ten heads being better than one to swallow this idea whole.)
At one time or another, you've probably part of discussions of what makes humor humorous. (My top answer is surprise.) Mark Twain's quotes remind me of another quality that makes something funny -- for me, anyway: I have to buy into the underlying point or message of the humor. I know "The lack of money is the root of all evil" is supposed to be funny, and on a very surface level it is. I would laugh if someone said it. But since I don't believe that's true (and since I suspect MT might have the original quote wrong, too), the statement loses some of its intended humorous impact. 

What do you think of these? Are there any you'd switch to the opposite list?


Leandra Wallace said...

I've always enjoyed Mark Twain quotes too. Hadn't heard the eating the frog one, blech. Never been a fan of their skinny little legs. ;)

janet smart said...

I also love the first list of his quotes. I don't think I'd switch any. Like you,I don't think the second list are some of his best.

Marcia said...

Leandra -- That quote totally brings me back to childhood. When my parents went out to restaurants, they'd talk about ordering weird things like scallops and frog legs. First time I got to go along, I ordered frog legs. They were delish!

Janet -- Some that I found were new to me, and others were familiar things I didn't realize he'd said. I should look for more of his quotes.

Emily R. King said...

I find humor in his quotes. I guess I have his same sardonic sense of humor, though.

Vijaya said...

I've not read much MT so really enjoyed these ... I think the dialect was a hangup for me.

DMS said...

Some of these are awesome! Definitely give you something to think about. Like you, I do the small projects first and then the big one. :)

Kelly Hashway said...

I can see what he means by the last one. I don't think he's implying it's always a bad thing. I think he's just warning you to make sure you ended up their for the right reasons.

Bish Denham said...

I think MT had a very dry, sarcastic sense of humor, which I love and I think he would want each of us to make up our own mind about whether we agree or disagree.

I like all these quotes, even the ones that sort of go against the grain.

Marcia said...

Emily -- I agree that a lot of them are really funny.

Vijaya -- I've not read *a lot* of him either, come to think of it. And I hated A Connecticut Yankee, which we had to read in 7th or 8th grade. Yes, that dialect would never get published today.

Jess -- I'm glad there are at least a few like me. :)

Kelly -- I agree that pause and reflect is just what he means. You may or may not decide to change your stance.

Bish -- I agree about dry and sarcastic, which I find fun but tire of at times. And I think you're exactly right that he wouldn't want to start any bandwagons with his own quotes.

LD Masterson said...

I always enjoy Twain and usually agree but not always. I will go along with the frog one. Often I start my day by getting all the little things out of the way and manage not to leave enough time to tackle that big (usually unpleasant) one. So I push it to the next day and repeat the same process. Maybe it's not the biggest that has to be done first but the least favorite.

Mirka Breen said...

These quotations illustrate what a master Mr. Twain (Clemens) was with the surprise twist ending. Every one of these takes us along and then turns around to deliver an unexpected punch. Even after I was expecting it, they still succeeded in surprising me.

Crystal Collier said...

Whenever someone starts quoting Twain, I stand back and prepare to be affronted. He had some questionable morals, to be sure.

Marcia said...

LD -- I guess we have to change it if it doesn't work. :)

Mirka -- Great observation. That's just what he does.

Crystal -- Or said things just to cause a stir, maybe.