TWAIN-L Archives

Mark Twain Forum


Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Kevin Mac Donnell <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 27 May 2010 18:49:29 -0500
text/plain (232 lines)
So what if he did? Is there any evidence that the plants talked back?

I thought Pat Ober's posting laid to rest (put to bed?) all notions of Twain 
using vibrators as sex toys, although I still wonder if there might have 
been a Presbyterian blow-up doll stashed in a closet somewhere.

OK, enough of this... those wishing to continue this thread are directed to 
the recent news report (The Daily News) about a 28,000 year old stone dildo 
found in a German cave. There is evidence it was also used as a flint 
striker to start fires. Ouch. It was found in fragments and had to be pieced 
back together. Ouch, ouch.

On another subject entirely...

Tina Fey is terrific, but I think Hal Holbrook is the obvious choice for the 
honor --and the guy who writes his material ain't bad either.

Mac Donnell Rare Books
9307 Glenlake Drive
Austin TX 78730
Member: ABAA, ILAB
You may browse our books at

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Graham Durham" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 1:17 PM
Subject: Re: Mark Twain and sex toys

> This learned research seems to link Clemens belief in newish alternative 
> me=
> dicines=20
> to our very own Prince Charles =2Cheir to the throne =2Cand noted herbal 
> re=
> medyist.Any evidence that=20
> Twain ever talked to plants ?
> =20
>> Date: Wed=2C 26 May 2010 09:38:38 -0400
>> From: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: Mark Twain and sex toys
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> I can't add much to the wisdom of Bob Hirst and Ben Griffin and Shelley
>> Fisher Fishkin.=3D20
>> But let me chip in on this anyway.=3D20
>> Medical history can be confusing enough already=2C even without efforts 
>> t=
> o
>> sensationalize it and ignore context.
>> In the late 19th century=2C the idea of depleted nerve force was widely
>> accepted as a cause of disease=2C supported by new discoveries in the
>> young field of neurology. In summer of 1899=2C the Clemens family
>> discovered Henrik Kellgren and his Swedish Movement Cure=2C a type of
>> osteopathic manipulation aimed at restoring vital energy. Clemens
>> pursued Kellgren in London and in Sweden. Kellgren's treatments seemed
>> useful in improving the family's health=2C and Clemens liked it because 
>> i=
> t
>> was vigorous exercise=2C "and other people do it for you." Sam and Livy
>> Clemens both noted improvement of various symptoms. It seemed to get
>> Jean's seizures under control. The enthusiasm continued into the new
>> century=2C and in 1901 Clara was under treatment of an American 
>> osteopath=
> =2C
>> "getting the bronchitis pulled and hauled out of her." Clemens was
>> convinced that Kellgren could cure about anything=2C and would have been
>> able to cure Susy's meningitis had he been given a chance. Clemens
>> openly supported the legalization of osteopathy in New York=2C and was a
>> strong believer in the methods of osteopathic medicine.=3D20
>> Electrotherapy (also pursued by Clemens) was an offshoot of this
>> thinking=2C based on direct stimulation of nerves to restore the nerve
>> force.
>> Osteopathic therapy was just another route to the same end - stimulation
>> of nerve by motion.
>> Kellgren considered vibration to be an important type of motion to
>> energize nerves and muscles.
>> And none of that has sexual connotations.=3D20
>> Considerable insight into the medical thinking of the times can be found
>> in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal [predecessor of the New
>> England Journal of Medicine] of Oct 10=2C 1907=2C (vol. 157=2C pp. 
>> 490-49=
> 4)=2C
>> where Dr. Edgar Cyriax published an article on "Henrik Kellgren and His
>> Methods of Medical Manipulation." I will include some long quotes below=
> =2C
>> to provide a bit of perspective on the thinking of the era. ("Medical
>> gymnastics" can be translated as the osteopathic manipulations of
>> muscles and nerves.)
>> According to Cyriax=2C Kellgren's contribution was that he "perceived how
>> much good could be effected through direct stimulation of the nerves=3B
>> consequently=2C he gradually developed a nerve treatment=2C consisting
>> chiefly of frictions and vibrations=2C which he used in combination with
>> improved active and passive (inclusive of duplicate) movements=3B and by
>> these means he has treated with unexampled success a number of chronic
>> cases of which some had been previously regarded as incurable..."
>> "Thousands of people owe their health to Kellgren=2C and some still live=
> =2C
>> who=2C at one time of their life=2C were regarded as utterly incurable. 
>> T=
> o
>> how great an extent his successes have contributed to make medical
>> gymnastics known and valued throughout the world is incalculable..."
>> "The great merit of Kellgren has been his correct development of the
>> processes referred to=3B in particular=2C he discovered that the main 
>> poi=
> nt
>> of importance was not the pressure=2C but the mechanical movement set up
>> in shaking the nerves through friction and vibration. And it was he who
>> introduced manipulations following the course of the nerves=2C which
>> manipulations are called "running nerve frictions and vibrations."
>> "When we consider how everything in the human body is under the
>> influence of the nerves and how many illnesses have their origin=2C not 
>> i=
> n
>> the muscles=2C but in the nerves=2C it will easily be understood that
>> nothing can be of so great service in these cases as movements of
>> stimulative or sedative effect..."
>> "It was Kellgren who succeeded in working out - one might almost say who
>> discovered--this new and splendid method of combating pain and disease.
>> He also discovered the method of executing the vibrations in a manner
>> involving the minimum of fatigue to the operator=2C so that they could be
>> maintained for much longer periods and=2C at the same time with greater
>> efficiency."
>> Cyriax mentioned the use of mechanical vibrators as well=2C even though
>> he personally preferred the hands-on approach of a therapist: "During
>> the last twelve or fifteen years=2C mechanical vibrators have come 
>> largel=
> y
>> into favor. The advocates of these "vibrators=2C" "concussors=2C" etc.=2C
>> maintain that the movements are rendered easier of administration=2C as
>> they obviate exertion on the part of the gymnast [therapist]=2C that they
>> may be administered with perfect regularity as long as necessary=2C and
>> finally that they may also be administered more rapidly. Some
>> "vibrators" execute up to 200 vibrations per second."
>> "That a greater rate than twelve per second should be of any advantage
>> seems to me very doubtful. It must=2C of course=2C be conceded that a
>> "vibrator" makes less demand on the manipulator=2C and its use is
>> comprehensible when we consider that in general the vibrations as
>> administered at present involve strong contraction of the arm and
>> shoulder muscles=2C demanding great physical exertion=2C and are
>> consequently only to be maintained for short periods at a sacrifice of
>> sureness and delicacy of touch."
>> So=2C osteopathic medicine used a hands-on approach.=3D20
>> Some therapists had devices to assist them.=3D20
>> And=2C of course=2C there were all sorts of devices available for home 
>> us=
> e.=3D20
>> Considering Clemens's positive experiences with Kellgren and osteopathy=
> =2C
>> we shouldn't be surprised that he tried the home remedy version. Clemens
>> observed in 1908 that the Arnold electric vibrating machine helped
>> Lyon's headaches and "cures and limbers lame and stiff backs for me." It
>> was a home version of osteopathy that did not require a trained
>> therapist. As quoted previously by Bob Hirst=2C Clemens's interpretation
>> was that it "stirs up the circulation" and "tones up the nerves=2C" which
>> he believed to be "the essential function of osteopathy."=3D20
>> Clemens is pretty much talking like Kellgren there.
>> Oh=2C by the way=2C in 2010=2C we use ultrasound to treat musculoskeletal
>> injury. It's supposed to help sprains and fractures heal faster.
>> Ultrasound uses sound waves=2C made by a machine=2C and applied through a
>> skin probe. The sound waves are of a frequency that that humans cannot
>> hear. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But I don't think it is
>> erotic either=2C and I hope no one suggests next century that it was.
>> =3D20
>> Conclusion:
>> Let's not confuse things by taking things out of the context of the
>> medical beliefs of the time.=3D20
>> Let's respect the history.=3D20
>> And let's respect the people and their motivations.
>> There are no sex toys here.
>> There are only human beings with human fears and human pains and human
>> illnesses=2C employing the best technology they have=2C to the extent 
>> the=
> y
>> understand it=2C in the hope of trying to get a little bit 
>> healthier.=3D2=
> 0
>> Not too different from you and me=2C probably.
>> Pat Ober
>     =20
> _________________________________________________________________


No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG -
Version: 9.0.819 / Virus Database: 271.1.1/2899 - Release Date: 05/27/10