Stooping the Shoulders & Retraining the King

I endeavor here to repeat a mis-take I unwittingly made some fortnights ago when my teacher keenly informed me that my writing was a ‘series of loosely connected quotations’.

~May I ever be guilty of such a charge~

Here I do not mean to emphasize too quickly a connectedness of words and their value as taken from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.  It would be foolish to say that Mark Twain undervalued words — but he was n’t keen on tipping a cap to erudition un-derived from the genius of the lowest social castes.

I care not to prove such a point — tis wreckun’d eas’ly ’nuff.

Words realize nothing, vivify nothing to you, unless you have suffered in your own person the thing which the words try to describe.

– Ch. XXVIII: ‘Drilling the King’

Here the king wills to partake in the gest of guising himself and going about amidst the lowest people with his 19th century courtier.  But while his head can be made to understand the value of cloaking himself in downtroddenness, his kingly shoulders will not learn by words what a lifetime has failed to teach them.

Similar enough remarks are tossed about when King Arthur and ‘the Boss’ are auctioned off: I safely remain at my library post while the words take on a whole new meaning when the chains are attached.  But it is a point too easily glossed over.


This brings me to a remark of value: in my trade we are tempted to compare salary offerings at face value without fully considering what is invested in exchange for what manner of life may be acquired.  This economic point is given quite a broad space in the Boss’ discussions with an incorrigible working class (of ‘free’ men in name) — who can not conceive to converse of payment apart from numerical value (for them 10 is more than 8 whether one can buy more for that 8 in a different community).

‘More than’ is all this community recognizes — that should n’t sound too unfamiliar to any of us.  It takes on a whole other meaning when you ‘re in the less than (and that ‘s a gap I can only bridge as far as I ‘m cut off from easy purchase).


I remember every detail of what he said, except the words he said it in; and so I change it into my own words.

–Ch. XXXV, p. 205

Too often we give pride of place to the account which recovers the exact transcript of the conversation, even when we should have argued enough in our days to know that ‘reading it back’ often elicits a resounding ‘that’s not what I said!’

There is much to be said, and therefore I shall say less, for communicating the gist — it is only when we can reply in our own words and the Other can recognize their intents represented courteously that we can say the details are remembered.  Words alone are n’t the it we ‘re looking for.


Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.

—Ch. XXXV, p. 207

To be such a worker of words that the true fire shows, that the paint strokes may so easily obscure…  That thought should remain undescribed by words, though they remain sepulchers else — enlivened only to dance away.  Our words can at best dance along the flames.


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