A rather amazing morph job of movie stars from Fairbanks (I think) to Clooney. I put my IDs in the comments. If anyone can identify my gaps, please do so.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The desire for the actual, the unmediated experience drives Twain in his travels. He never achieves it, of course, always finding his experience forced through the sieve of reputation. When it comes to art and architecture and landscape, he sometimes resorts to irony and mockery to sweep away allegations of grandeur and greatness. He is thwarted in his accounts of traveling in the "Holy Land" by a reluctance to mock the pious, and yet we can usually sense his impatience with superstition in his sly treatment of the ubiquitous venerated relics, the duplicitous guides and guidebooks, and the rock-chipping avidity of souvenir hunters. Here he sums up his own awareness of the difficulty of writing the truth:
It is easy for book-makers to say "I thought so and so as I looked upon such and such a scene" -- when the truth is, they thought all those fine things afterwards. One's first thought is not likely to be strictly accurate, yet it is no crime to think it and none to write it down, subject to modification by later experience.One pious cliché of travelers particularly draws his fire:
The commonest sagacity warns me that I ought to tell the customary pleasant lie, and say I tore myself reluctantly away from every noted place in Palestine. Every body tells that, but with as little ostentation as I may, I doubt the word of every he who tells it. ... It does not stand to reason that men are reluctant to leave places where the very life is almost badgered out of them by importunate swarms of beggars and peddlers who hang in strings to one's sleeves and coat-tails and shriek and shout in his ears and horrify his vision with the ghastly sores and malformations they exhibit. One is glad to get away. ... We do not think, in the holy places; we think in bed, afterwards, when the glare, and the noise, and the confusion are gone, and in fancy we revisit alone, the solemn monuments of the past, and summon the phantom pageants of an age that has passed away.