The lightning-bug and the lightning

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.

–Mark Twain, in a letter to George Bainton (1888)

43 thoughts on “The lightning-bug and the lightning”

  1. FF: Especially when reading… and even larger matter when translation is required! Thank you Sir David…. (and that other guy)

  2. I wish you and all the people who can read this a very cozy and blessed holiday season! I like you very much. David, I also am appreciative of your father’s contribution to mathematics! You sincerely honor him. I am thankful to have been linked to you, in this way.
    Much love to all of you!

      1. I will try this in Hebrew…

        איזון בין החיים. כשאני אוהב אותך מישהו אחר שראוי לזעם שלי יקבל את זה.

        Thank you, you deserve my praise!

        1. That is actually quite interesting. Do you mean that others also receive your love when you express it to somebody who [you feel] deserves it?

          -David

        2. I chose the right words apparently….
          Yes, For someone who chooses to attempt to “feel” it is clear. When a rock lands upon your head- ouch. When a kiss lands upon your brow- Ahhh. When these feelings are are felt, things can change inside a person; a human. I will grasp the hand that is open and pry the hand that is closed. I am only as “kind” as you are.

          ~FF

        3. I am pleased! I hope maybe you can encourage a similar philosophy in your travels! You are welcome, thank yourself sir!

          ~FF

    1. Thank you for the kind sentiments, OSW 🙂

      I don’t celebrate Christmas as a Jew, and sadly, Chanukah is already over this year… but I am really enjoying all of the Christmas cheer that’s been lighting up across WordPress 😀

      -David

  3. The finesse of MT.
    All prolific writers like him should know that this right word gospel.

    Compliments of the season to each and everyone. May the Joy of the season fill your homes.
    Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the Living Word.

    ben, happy holidays and thank you for all the blessed moments of bringing us so many words thread into prose and poetic pearls.

    1. See, Abi? I’ve given you somebody else to pay your lovely compliments too 😀

      Merry Christmas to you, assuming that you celebrate it!

      -David

      1. Hahaha….I had to breakaway and ponder on what you said.
        Mark Twain was a literary master. As I read your reflections coming through poetry, I find it some of the finest I have read. Its exciting to see how you take a poetic technique and begin to weave your thoughts with it. It’s a great thing when masters in their craft give recognition to each other even though their genres are maybe miles apart. I wouldn’t quote Twain much because I wouldn’t really go back their to read it. This had a history in itself because of my upbringing. The discipline of great writers and poets is in the reading of each other’s work. I’m not sure if I’m repeating myself. To be a prolific writer is work, a labour of love, a talent, a gift and a passion. Your styles are a breath of fresh air and a work of reference for those who wish to follow your technique, breath and rhythm.

        Yes I surely do. My brother’s partner just sent me a version of silent night in song, and I can assure you I’m taken away whenever I listen to it. The song just evolves and evolves, it changes but the prolific lyrics remain the same. I think people will still listen to it for a thousand years to come. It will never get lost because for us who celebrate it is tied to an event that changed the course of history forever.

        Wishing you a wonderful day ben. Warm live to the family.

  4. Smallish differences can make or break a lot of things. This reminded me of some philosophy.

    Let’s say we have three scenarios

    1) Humanity is totally wiped out
    2) Only 1% of humanity survives a disaster
    3) There is no disaster

    I’ve heard a philosopher argue that the difference between 1 and 2 is greater than the difference between 2 and 3. Even though in an immediate sense the difference between 2 and 3 contains more people killed by the disaster, the difference between 1 and 2 contains all the future human lives who could rebuild in the 2nd scenario. So here a small difference in the scope of the disaster would be a huge difference in how bad the disaster is.

    1. SN,

      That is truly a fantastic and fitting point. I love it! Thank you for sharing – it really puts this Twain quote in context!

      Yours,
      David

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