Kurt is Dead; Long Live Kurt

Kurt Vonnegut died while I was in Amsterdam. Here’s the best tribute I found.

15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will.
By Scott Gordon, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Sean O’Neal, Tasha Robinson, Kyle Ryan
AV Club, April 23rd, 2007

1. “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

The actual advice here is technically a quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s “good uncle” Alex, but Vonnegut was nice enough to pass it on at speeches and in A Man Without A Country. Though he was sometimes derided as too gloomy and cynical, Vonnegut’s most resonant messages have always been hopeful in the face of almost-certain doom. And his best advice seems almost ridiculously simple: Give your own happiness a bit of brainspace.

2. “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”

In Cat’s Cradle, the narrator haplessly stumbles across the cynical, cultish figure Bokonon, who populates his religious writings with moronic, twee aphorisms. The great joke of Bokononism is that it forces meaning on what’s essentially chaos, and Bokonon himself admits that his writings are lies. If the protagonist’s trip to the island nation of San Lorenzo has any cosmic purpose, it’s to catalyze a massive tragedy, but the experience makes him a devout Bokononist. It’s a religion for people who believe religions are absurd, and an ideal one for Vonnegut-style humanists.

3. “Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, ‘Why, why, why?’ Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand.”

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Published in: on April 23, 2007 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

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