Thursday, April 12, 2007

RIP Kurt Vonnegut

November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007

Vonnegut's Blues for America
by Kurt Vonnegut

No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious and charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.

If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:


Back to music. It makes practically everybody fonder of life than he or she would be without it. Even military bands, although I am a pacifist, always cheer me up. And I really like Strauss and Mozart and all that, but the priceless gift that African Americans gave the whole world when they were still in slavery was a gift so great that it is now almost the only reason many foreigners still like us at least a little bit. That specific remedy for the worldwide epidemic of depression is a gift called the blues. All pop music today – jazz, swing, be-bop, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Stones, rock-and-roll, hip-hop, and on and on – is derived from the blues.


Foreigners love us for our jazz. And they don’t hate us for our purported liberty and justice for all. They hate us now for our arrogance.


About my own history of foreign substance abuse, I’ve been a coward about heroin and cocaine, LSD and so on, afraid they might put me over the edge. I did smoke a joint of marijuana one time with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, just to be sociable. It didn’t seem to do anything to me one way or the other, so I never did it again. And by the grace of God, or whatever, I am not an alcoholic, largely a matter of genes. I take a couple of drinks now and then and will do it again tonight. But two is my limit. No problem.


I turned 82 on November 11, 2004. What’s it like to be this old? I can’t parallel park worth a damn any more, so please don’t watch while I try to do it. And gravity has become a lot less friendly and manageable than it used to be.

When you get to my age, if you get to my age, and if you have reproduced, you will find yourself asking your own children, who are themselves middle-aged: “What is life all about?’” I have seven kids, three of them orphaned nephews.

I put my big question about life to my son the pediatrician. Dr Vonnegut said this to his doddering old dad: “Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”

Extracted from A Man Without A Country: A Memoir Of Life In George W Bush’s America, (Bloomsbury).


There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil.
The triumph of anything is a matter of organisation.
If there are such things as angels, hope that they are
organised along the lines of the Mafia.
--Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

The two prime movers in the Universe are Time and Luck.
--Kurt Vonnegut

Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.
--Kurt Vonnegut

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