Walter and Matt discuss Twain’s masterpiece fable about a town that too loudly trumpeted its progressive virtue, only to see its hypocrisy ruthlessly exposed
Just FYI to anyone that hasn't read the Mark Twain "short" Hadleyburg story, here it is free as part of the Guttenberg Project. It's 41 pages on standard 1" margins at 13.5 pt Times New Roman font and about 18,200 words if you are thinking about porting it to a word processor or text editor. Not a small amount of paper if you, like me, prefer to print this kind of thing out.
One of many fantastic quotes from the Twain story is "a proof once established is better left so." One of the characters decides that, even if new information comes along, he's proven to himself that HE must be the good guy, and he's not going to change his mind. This really resonates for me with how people handle moral dilemmas. No reason to question your own goodness, you've PROVEN it to yourself. Just because there are these inconvenient new facts showing you're probably wrong about something, it doesn't mean you should listen.
Outstanding choice of story, and again, really wonderful discussion about it.
Two of my favorite Mark Twain quotes are:
“A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read.”
“In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice…..Then he made school boards.”
Thanks Matt and Walter for all the background regarding Mark Twain!! I had seen the title as to this town of Hadleyburg but had never read it. Feel sorry for those that have never encountered Mark Twain's stories as you both indicate they are brilliant.
On September 8, 2022, Oberlin College announced that the Trustees had determined the college "would not pursue the matter further" and had agreed to pay Gibson's Bakery the sum of $36.59 million representing the judgement with interest.
Here is the report on Gibson's Bakery v. Oberlin.
Thank you for adding the literary twist to the podcast. I always find your comments on the events of the week interesting, but the literary discussion is refreshing. I think it is healthy for our brains to ponder something other than the mind-numbing news of the day.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens would love this interview
“[O]ur inability to accept our fallen nature is probably our greatest liability….”
I love that adjective “fallen.” A deeply theological term. Not good, not evil. Fallen.
Indeed. We are, as another literary master said, “a glorious ruin.”
Love it. We’re in the no bullshit zone here, where writers should always be.
Twain’s genius was trained and tempered during his stint in Virginia City, Nevada as a young editorialist. He learned a thing or two regarding true humor well served and understood by the everyman, his great mentor Artemis Ward is considered to be the first stand up comedian, these two were almost instant friends (Twain was prepared to roast Ward) as Ward’s delivery and sense of timing overwhelmed Twain’s funny bone. Interestingly it was Ward (well known in the East) who submitted The Celebrated Leaping Frog of Calaveras County to the NYT. Ward died young of TB.
These days I think lies and hypocrisy are the very foundation of society. The "justice" and "fairness" and "truth" concepts were made to confine these natural tendencies within some kind of bound. As sayeth Carlin, "Society is based on bullshit. Without bullshit it couldn't function." Sort of like an automobile needs oil.
I dunno. Maybe hypocrisy is better than revelling in evil. I often imagine Prez Biden appearing in television in full military uniform, a chestful of medals clinking. He grasps the lectern and bellows, "I will drink blood from the skull of Putin. This I swear!" The crowd goes crazy. He continues, "the world will bow down before us, forever!" Wild cheering, fistfights break out controlled by cops with truncheons.
Would such frankness be preferable? Maybe not.
"Joan of Ark?" Come on, bumpkins.
I am a graduate of Oberlin College (1961, chemistry), and was an announcer and then director of the college radio station as a senior. We would have loved to have a discussion like this on our station. Thank you!
Great discussion. Have ordered a Mark Twain collection of his short stories, excited to read them.
What a nice conversation on a fabulous story. Usually I have to brace myself for the weekly review of news and it weighs heavy on me. Thank you for this
while the payoff for Gibsons may seen large. it killed a family member..
“I have faith in you. You too see through the bullshit. You too aren’t impressed by the big shots.”
[...] He enters into an immediate conspiracy with the readers against phoniness. American politicians work that angle as well. It’s kind of what Trump did, and in some ways it’s what RFK is doing, and then I think it’s what Bernie Sanders did. He immediately puts you on his level and says, “What are we going to do about these liars? What are we going to do about these greedy sons of bitches?”
I couldn't help but be re-reminded of this classic Mike Gravel appearance at a Democratic Presidential Primary debate, I think 2007/2008 timeframe. He goes nuclear on the remainder of the Democratic candidates and Congress. I like how he disses on Biden too.
I wonder if RFK Jr. will have the guts to do something like this. So far he seems way too willing to genuflect to the party elites. Bernie certainly didn't and I bet it would have helped him in a big way in 2016.