“Three times I have been mistaken for a prohibition agent, but never had any trouble clearing myself.” -Dashiell Hammett-
“There’s an idea that the human body is somehow evil and bad and there are parts of it that are especially evil and bad, and we should be ashamed. Fear, guilt and shame are built into the attitude toward sex and the body. It’s reflected in prohibitions and these taboos that we have.” -George Carlin-
“Complete prohibition of all chemical mind changers can be decreed, but not enforced, and tends to create more evils than it cures.” -Aldous Huxley-
“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits. Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky. It is prohibition that makes things precious.” -Mark Twain-
“Prohibition is the trigger of crime.” -Ian Fleming-
“I believe that it should be perfectly lawful to print even things that outrage the pruderies and prejudices of the general, so long as any honest minority, however small, wants to read them. The remedy of the majority is not prohibition but avoidance.” -H.L. Mencken-
In a world of posts, pics, updates, likes, and follows image can become more important than preference. The ‘gram, the ‘book, and the twit’ may not have created posturing but they sure as hell have turned it into a martial art of sorts. There are many individuals out there that feel having classy things will make them classy people. Mark Twain addresses posturing, price, and pretentiousness in “Concerning Tobacco.”
Twain begins his essay by establishing a couple common superstitions. These superstitions concern an individual’s preferences and standards concerning tobacco. Twain states that many of his friends will only smoke expensive cigars and take great pride in showing off the labels of their cigars whenever they smoke. These friends also berate Twain for his choice of cheap cigars and state they could not bear to smoke such sub-standard tobacco. In an act of subterfuge Twain places the labels of his cheap cigars on some expensive cigars he secretly took from a friend. His friends, self-proclaimed experts with high standards, could not tell the difference and thought they were smoking cheap cigars. Twain ends the essay by returning to the superstitions he establishes at the beginning. He states that the only real standard concerning tobacco is an individual’s preference, but it may be a preference to brand and not necessarily flavor.
Twain wrote “Concerning Tobacco” in 1917. If the ‘gram, the ‘book’ and the twit’ were around a hundred years ago I would wager his friends would have posts, pics, updates, and likes about their expensive cigars. They would be posturing and bragging about the price of their stogie selections. Mark Twain wouldn’t be so pretentious. He wouldn’t use a brand to make himself look better, to end up being a billboard for that brand. Take Twain’s advice and embrace your preferences, even if they are on the less expensive side. Better to be you than a billboard.
“Concerning Tobacco” by Mark Twain from Drinking, Smoking, andScrewing (1994) edited by Sara Nickles.