Condolences and R. I. P.
In many ways, I thought of Vonnegut and Bradbury as opposites. Where much of Bradbury's fiction is optimistic and naive (and I don't mean that in a bad sense), much of Vonnegut's is pessimistic or cynical.
And yet... we see on this board that people so often get them confused. Or, at least, they have a vague recollection of "Harrison Bergeron" and assume it was a Bradbury story.
I suppose both writers have a touch of allegory in them and have been known for satirical works.
Anyway, thanks Kurt for leaving us some great work.
Goodbye, and God bless, Mr. Rosewater.
A twenty-one gun salute goes off in my head in his honor.
We've lost one of the greatest.
Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut. I think the best eulogy I can give would be:
So it goes.
philnic: PHIL, the Los Angeles Times ran several pages on Kurt Vonnegut today, and I took the time to read the whole thing. And it doesn't take long before you see why much of Vonnegut's work is pessismistic or cynical. Great tragedy thruout his life. Big time. Including piling up mounds of dead bodies to set on fire during the aftermath of the Dresden bombing by American and British that killed upwards of 200,000 people. (He was a prisoner of war by the Germans and escaped death by being entombed in a jail way underground). The war, the problems and woes in the family (including his mother who eventually committed suicide)...and much later, even selling SAAB automobiles, all lead up to the man he was. Just reading the LA story was enthralling enough to make one wonder how he ever found intact his gift of writing. Quite a fellow!
"God Bless You Mr. Rosewater" has always been on my Philosophy class reading list. A brother went to law school, graduated, and then, for seven years, didn't read a novel. The first novel he read in seven years what Vonnegut's "Got Bless You Mr. Rosewater"--a book I gave him and told him to read. This was several years ago. My brother sent me an email today thanking me for giving him the book. He reminded me that Vonnegut did a small cameo in a Rodney Dangerfield movie, "Back to school". A pretty funny movie, actually. In it, Dangerfield is a self-made millionaire who goes back to college to set an example for his son. In a literature class, he has an assignment to write a paper on a Vonnegut novel. The Dangerfield character hires Vonnegut to write a paper analyzing his own work. The professor (an old stuffed shirt, pompous man) flunks Dangerfield and says he doesn't understand Vonnegut at all. Dangerfield fires Vonnegut!
Eliot Rosewater is a character who is accused of being insane, in part because he actually loves people. It is a great, short novel, and I can recommend it highly.
Figure out a quote from "Cat's Cradle": "All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies". How can a true thing be a shameless lie?
Vonnegut is a master of the paradox as a means of expressing, or pointing at, truths.
Bradbury points at truths, in part, in metaphors. Vonnegut did it, in part, in paradox.
His death is a great loss to us.
Thank God we have his books.
I was thinking today they will certainly put that on his tombstone.
Read 'Slaughterhouse Five' when it first came out and liked it a lot. Read 'Breakfast of Champions' and didn't like that one as much. 'Welcome to the Monkey House' was good. I have not read any of his other works.
I think when you read Vonnegut, a funny thing emerges in the reader's mind after the book is finished. You realize you don't know him any better than when you started the book. I believe he was one of those authors you needed to see in person, perhaps hear one of his lectures. Too bad he wasn't on television more, such as Stephen King occasionally does. I think people WANTED to know Vonnegut better, but simply reading his work just doesn't do it. He was hard to figure out.
Nard, funnily enough I read a lengthy piece on Vonnegut in the New York Times which (of course) painted a very similar picture of a life with lots of suffering.
Robert, I know what you mean about not knowing the author any better after reading his books. I put this down to his constant search for meaning, and is perhaps one of the reasons he is so much studied. (Similarly, Philip K. Dick's works seem to be striving for understanding, and his work has been much studied since his death.)
I did hear Vonnegut on a book discussion programme on the BBC World Service last year, being interviewed and taking questions from the audience. He came across as a charming, down to earth man. I think I had expected him to be an awkward, argumentative interviewee, but he seemed very relaxed in discussing his life and work. (I just found that show is still online here. You have to click on the drop-down list "Listen to previous World Book Clubs" to find it.)
Funnily is a good word.
Quiescat in Pace!
(quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur)
Mr. Vonnegut always seemed to have an uncanny sense of the absurd. Often, he forced humanity to ask itself, "What in the hell have we done?", all the while maintaining that dark humor as a reminder of so much suffering, and so much that needs to be put right.
There's a very satisfying collection of audio interviews at National Public Radio, npr.org.
Readings the works of authors sometimes incites a myriad of ideas. (Like it does often with Bradbury!) Reading an excerpt from Kurt Vonnegut's 'Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons', 1974, sparked such insight:
"When I think about my own death,
I don't console myself with the
idea that my descendants and my
books and all that will
live on. Anybody with any sense
knows that the whole solar system
will go up like a celluloid
collar by-and-by. I honestly
believe, though, that we are
wrong to think that moments go
away, never to be seen again.
This moment and every moment
And to that I said, THAT'S IT! A Vonnegut glimmer of truth. And I further thought:
well, Christ, who said he had control over death, and He inserts into our life perfect transcendence, creates unlimited life into thealready present-day 'happened'. Everything we do, each day, like watching film rolling, is cast in forever cement.
Vonnegut was onto something. And yet here, so very different than Bradbury's take on 'life forever.' www.amazon.com/Wampeters-Foma-Granfalloons-Kurt-Vonnegut/dp/0385333811
Nothing is ever really lost, and we need reminding by those who say it best. Beautiful.
Some view life as a hologram, a mixture of frequencies of vibrations that are captured in moments in time and can be experienced by observing the light that is reflected back from that imprint. If true, then we each can leave our own small imprint on the macro-hologram and should be mindful to work to make sure that our contributions are positive to elevate the entire vibration to a new level of goodness.
I doubt very much that Kurt Vonnegut had the hologram view in mind when he was talking about eternal moments. He was referring to something far more profound than vibrating levels of the macro-hologram imprint.
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