Back in the mid-80s when I was in grad school, Dr. David Kestersen
introduced one lecture in his Twain class by talking about a recent
conference he had attended on American Humor. he said a number of
reporters from local papers stopped by and kept asking one
question--why isn't anyone laughing?
Well, they were told, that's not why we're here. Not in the name
of humor. Not in the name of Twain.
I confess I've been frequently puzzled this last year by repeated
debates over the mission of this list-serve saying exactly that.
We're not here to enjoy anything, we're simply here to aid quote
queries and source seekers and Nothing Nothing Nothing Else. We're
the Mark Twain Footnote Agency, clean and pure. Any veering from
this august Mission is assaulted by electronic sawdust that makes
it seem this is a Berkeley reading room, please take all other
conversations out to the lobby. Please keep your voice down,
whisper your questions and answers, and NO LAUGHING OUT LOUD.
To our younger members, beware--those dry croacks and moans are
YOUR future if you forget why you've been reading those venerable
beards in the first place. You'll join the proverbial money-
lenders in the Temple waiting for Our Author to laugh us out with
the irresistable force that built the Temple that built our
secondary careers we take as seriously as an Eliot quatrain we
don't have the talent to write ourselves. I'm sometimes sure if
Twain returned on one of those comets, he'd ignore the surly lot of
us and go watch professional wrestling instead. It's different
from acedemic debate, ah, let me rethink that one. Oh yeah, we're
the ones who wear ties and talk quietly. We frown a lot and gnarl
our eyebrows, but I ain't sure the conference committees ain't
rigged. hell, we snarl better than Hulk Hogan--just go over this
week's postings here.
Being more guilty than anyone to toss out lumps of both gold and
cricket-dung, I'm willing and often happy to take mine, but I
should say we blind folks don't always have the technology that
reads spell checks to us. But technology marches on and in the
future informal communication too can rise to the levels expected
here. If that's the worst I can be accused of this time around, I
the less informed
who thinks Laura's book belongs in every school library.