Before I had chance in another war, the desire to kill people to whom I had not been introduced had passed away.
– Autobiography of Mark Twain
Change is the handmaiden Nature requires to do her miracles with.
– Roughing It
Strangely enough I have only read a little of Mark Twain’s work, I like reading about him and I like his humor and his philosophy but his classic novels don’t interest me. Not sure if it was Junior High, High School readings that did it to me or if I’m just not up for the experience.
I find the times in which he lived fascinating, in some ways we should be ashamed of ourselves for complaining about the rate of change today. The rate of change during the Victorian era, or the Twain era (which overlap a great deal,) was simply incredible. The biggest difference is that the impact was probably less personal than the changes today, but they were more physical. The Transition from horse carriage and canal to train, the telegraph, the steam ship, the spread of parliamentary gov’t and limited monarchy, the explosion of broadsheet papers and journalism, the beginnings of scientific medicine etc.
By the time Twain died the world he had been born into would be almost unrecognizable. The world you and I were born into are recognizably precursors to our life today. However the differences in mental attitude and knowledge etc, are many orders of magnitudes greater than the same types of changes that happened across Twain’s life.
The intellectual changes that lead to the Victorian/Twain era explosion, happened in the decades and years leading up to the years of greatest change. Is that what we are seeing now, the build up of an underpinning that will enable quantum leaps in the physical characteristics of our lives like those that occurred from ~1840-1900?
Just a thought …