Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut is dead, alas

Kurt Vonnegut is dead, alas.

He was a strange and interesting man.

I haven't read his books in years, and his later stuff never really grabbed me.

But I have fond memories of the times when I was eagerly devouring his early works. "Welcome to the Monkey House," "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater," "Player Piano" and "Sirens of Titan" all still stick in my mind, as does my first Vonnegut immersion into "Slaughterhouse-Five" back in high school.

I also had the pleasure of seeing him give the commencement speech at Agnes Scott College many years ago.

In that speech he said:
Incidentally, if somebody asks you whether you are a Liberal or a Conservative, tell 'em this:

"Listen, Buster — I'm a graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, zipcode, 30030. They taught me to think for myself there. You want to know if I'm a Liberal or a Conservative? I'm both of those, and neither one.

"Go jump in the lake. Go climb a tree."
Ah, sweet granfalloons....

RIP, Kurt Vonnegut

UPDATE, Fri., April 13: You can listen to fellow strange-and-dead author Philip K. Dick talking about Kurt Vonnegut in a 1981 interview here.

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  1. In his final major speech at the Ohio State University just over a year ago, Vonnegut offered further insights on the Bush presidency, clarifying the fact that "The only difference between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler was elected."

  2. Another influential author who also died in 2007 wrote a similar comparison not too long ago. Robert Anton Wilson wrote in the "Random Thoughts" section of his website:

    Perils of Cocaine Abuse

    Two recent political leaders allegedly had this nefarious habit.

    Both came to power after dubious elections, by non-electorial and irregular methods.

    Both nations immediately experienced attacks on famous public buildings.

    Both blamed an ethnic minority before forensics had any evidence.

    Both led "witch-hunts" against the accused minority.

    Both suspended civil liberties "temporarily."

    Both put the citizenry under surveillance.

    Both maintained secret and clandestine governments.

    Both launched wars against most of the world.

    One had a funny mustache. Can you name the other one?


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