Mr. Twain’s Imaginary FracturesMark Twain January/February 1998 It was a night of anguish, of course at least I supposed it was, for it had all the symptoms of it but it passed at last, and the Christian Scientist came, and I was glad. She was middle-aged, and large and bony, and erect, and had an austere face and a resolute jaw and a Roman beak and was a widow in the third degree, and her name was Fuller. I was eager to get to business and find relief, but she was distressingly deliberate. She unpinned and uncoupled her upholsteries one by one, abolished the wrinkles with a flirt of her hand, and hung the articles up; peeled off her gloves and disposed of them, got a book out of her handbag, then drew a chair to the bedside, descended into it without hurry, and I hung out my tongue. She said, with pity but without passion:
"Return it to its receptacle. We deal with the mind only, not with dumb servants."
I could not offer my pulse, because the connection was broken; but she detected the apology before I could word it, and indicated by a negative tilt of her head that the pulse was another dumb servant that she had no use for. Then I thought I would tell her my symptoms and how I felt so that she would understand the case; but that was another inconsequence; she did not need to know those things; moreover, my remark about how I felt was an abuse of language, a misapplication of terms.
"One does not feel," she explained; "there is no such thing as feeling: therefore, to speak of a nonexistent thing as existent is a contradiction. Matter has no existence; nothing exists but mind; the mind cannot feel pain; it can only imagine it."
"But if it hurts, just the same "
"It doesn't. A thing which is unreal cannot exercise the functions of reality. Pain is unreal; hence, pain cannot hurt."
In making a sweeping gesture to indicate the act of shooing the illusion of pain out of the mind, she raked her hand on a pin in her dress, said "Ouch!" and went tranquilly on with her talk.
From Mark Twain, Christian Science (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1993).