Thursday, April 12, 2007


This is a day for Pall Mals and whiskey. A day to wrestle tirelessly with your dog. A day to wonder if Lyle and Kyle Hoover were ever able to save the Cathedral of Whispers. A day to find your old copy of "And Now it Can be Told," just to read it one more time, and maybe go a little crazy yourself. Only this time when you read it, pay more attention to the illustrations. They were always the best part.

Kurt's gone. I mean, really, he was in his '8os and smoked like a crematory. It shouldn't come as a surprise. But he's gone. Suddenly, it seems, we're left on our own to figure out what to do next. Hitchhiking to Midland City seems appropriate, but you know you're not going anywhere. Hitchhiking just isn't as reliable as it used to be. It's not as easy.

Everything was easier with Kurt around. Just knowing he was here made life easier. There was someone worrying about all those things you didn't have to worry about. Simply because he was here.

I suppose he still is. Here, that is. Isn't that why we were taught to always refer to literary works in the present tense? We were also taught to not split infinitives, but if nothing else, Vonnegut taught us that sometimes infinity needs to be split up. It needs to be ignored altogether, if only to keep us sane.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., had a way of making the end of the world humorous. But it was always uneasy laughter, for we always knew, deep down, that we were laughing at ourselves. We were laughing at our own weaknesses, our own stupidity. Our own insanity: Doing the same things over and over again, hoping for different results every time.

To paraphrase Kurt: We study history not so much so we won't repeat it again; a lot of good that's done. We study it so we are not surprised when we keep doing the same things over and over again.

Vonnegut recognized society for what it truly is: insane. Our brains are too darn big. We claim compassion, often in the name of god, but continue on the endless quest for the perfect weapon of mass destruction: One that will kill all of our enemies so quickly that they cannot respond in kind. Vonnegut realized long ago that if we kill all of our enemies there will be no one left. Even those whom we hoped would be on our side will inevitably reach down for a touch of Ice Nine. And they, too, will die with a laugh.

But still, through his fatalism and pessimism, Kurt wasn't fooling anybody -- well, anybody that bothered to read. It can all be so Nice, Nice, Very Nice. But then, Kurt realized that reading, and subsequently writing, is becoming a lost art.

The ultimate irony is if Kurt is given the choice by his own grandfather, the Hoosier architect, and he decides to stay another million years. A headless ghost left to watch, left to wait, and left to ultimately find out if we, too -- the human race -- will eventually grow flippers and learn to take pleasure from farting. I'm guessing, if given the choice, Vonnegut would choose Heaven. He already knows how this one will end.

So it goes.

Favourite Vonnegut

#1 Breakfast of Champions
#2 Cat's Cradle
#3 Slaughterhouse Five
#4 Galapagos
#5 Mother Night

I think it's time to read another. Maybe this time it'll be Hocus Pocus. Now you see it; now you don't. We're off to the Turkey Farm.