“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story” — Mark Twain

Let me start this by saying that all the incidents that I collectively label as “Why I Love New Mexico” and post on my blog are true. They are gleaned from newspaper or other media reports, incidents I have personally witnessed or participated in, photos I have taken or stories from others who I believe are credible sources. (And if you have a good one, please share it with me, by all means).

However, since my primary role with this blog is your entertainment (well, mine too since I love to write), I often fill in with “colorful” details, provide fuzzy imagined logic, inject local nuance or conjure up imagined conversations to make a story, well, more entertaining. But my goal is never to deviate too far from the essential truth. My intention is never to offend anyone, although given the current climate of political correctness, I probably will do that on occasion. And for that, I apologize in advance, my only defense being that I am not (as my wife routinely points out) as sensitive to others’ feelings, thoughts or meanings as I should be. I am completely prepared to apologize, as need be.

Now, focusing on the title above attributed to Mark Twain, the quote is actually a parody of itself. No one is actually certain that Twain said that, or for that matter, many of the other sayings for which he is credited. As one writer said, “there’s something emotionally satisfying about quoting Mark Twain.” There’s even a whole website called “Unquotable: Mark Twain.” https://uncyclopedia.ca/wiki/Unquotable:Mark_Twain

As the website notes, “The actual creation of false Mark Twain quotes involves two things: words, and a voice similar to that of old-timey movie sidekick Walter Brennan.” I can hear Twain now, can’t you?

I recall another quote attributed to Twain with particular resonance in this period of national political chaos: “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” It was once attributed to former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, even by Twain himself, but the quote reportedly cannot be found in any of his writings or other works. Twain still get the credit on this one.

As I drift further from the original point of my blog and into the slippery slope of what people embrace as “truth,” the Twain (Disraeli?) quote serves both sides of the political spectrum, by relying on selected statistics to prove their point of view. It reminds me of a quote from a favorite author of mine, John Gierach, who instead of wasting time writing about the grimy nature of politics, produces inspiring, philosophical and thought provoking (at least to me) stories about fly fishing. I’ve modified his quote slightly, but I think it gets to the point:

“Isn’t it interesting that the logic (statistics) you apply to the opposition is (are) abrupt and unforgiving, while the reasoning for (your “better” statistics) for your own position is (are) fluid, creative and finds (find) room for infinite subtleties.”

So in my rather convoluted literary journey, I am now coming to my point, reflected in the “alleged” Mark Twain quote about truth and stories

I’m writing this because, as expected, I knew someone would sooner or later find some detail in a blog that was not quite accurate. The error was contained in a post I wrote about a bear licking a scout’s head in his tent at Philmont Scout Ranch many years ago. It was a pretty funny story. (The kid was okay, by the way, if you didn’t read my earlier blog post). In the article, I mentioned that the ranch had been closed this summer for the first time in its history, due to a state directive surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, a good friend pointed out that it had actually been closed for a period of time several years ago because of dangers from a forest fire in the vicinity. It wasn’t a major error, but it made clear to me that some people may actually read my writing.

Thanks to those who read it and please be willing to send me a note to keep me honest if I get something really wrong.

Please bear with me (pun intended).

One thought on ““Never let the truth get in the way of a good story” — Mark Twain

  1. Speaking of quotes, one of my favorites and use selectively, attributed to Groucho Marx:
    “I wouldn’t want to be a part of an organization that would have me as a member”

    Like

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