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April 12, 2007

Comments

Kari

I've got all kinds of things I could say but right now I simply feel we are all diminished without Vonnegut.

Friend2

I remember my first contact with Vonnegut, too. Not at ten, but more like fourteen; it's science fiction, some wily uncle or aunt told me in a card for my birthday, and I looked at the cover, 'Breakfast of Champions,' and was suspicious-- what did wheaties have to do with the interstellar intrigue and adventure I'd come to love? Where was the evidence, even, of the kind of stunted, adolescent sexuality (and perhaps greater complexity, and greater societal/technological implications) I'd become more interested in by that time, which had made me turn to Robert Heinlein and Piers Anthony, until I'd read every book by both? When I finally opened it, and found this voice, wry, sarcastic, willing to consider everything through this absurd, ironic lens that somehow still was appproachable, and bigger than the sophomoric humor that was also present (Yes, there were drawings of assholes, which looked surprisingly like Nazi swastikas; and there was that phrase, 'so it goes', which seemed even then to mean so much more than what was said). At his best, Vonnegut really was our modern Twain-- pointing through humor at something bigger and fundamentally moral.

I agree with Kari, and with you TM. I do feel we are all diminished by his death.

badfreak

We are talking about a man who published an ode to his own shit, people. Even he knew his best work was well behind him (oh, yes, pun fully intended).

Twain? Really? I disagree. Faulkner, maybe. A few bright spots in their respective early work and then a protracted period of aimng low and still falling short.

To say that his death somehow diminishes us is to say you believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that he had something left to offer. It's a poetic phrase, a beautiful collection of words, far too elegant to mark the passing of a single man.

We are diminished by our reliance on violence to solve our problems. We are diminished by any faith that demands the sacrafice of another people. We are diminished by the places in the world where arming the children for the future means putting a gun in their hand.

Which is not to say I don't respect your grief. I loved both Slaughterhouse and Breakfast. But let's keep our heads, eh?

Friend Omega

Shut up, Freak.

badfreak

Aye-aye. Over and out.

Friend Omega

This is the best birthday present I have ever received.

Terrible Mother

Now, now Omega. If Freak leaves, who will be left for you to pick on besides me?

Freak, you make some good points, which I must begrudglingly admit. However, I will say that comparing the relative "diminishment" of the world losing a beloved author and the world relying heavily on violence (and many other things) to solve problems is, well, I was going to say "comparing apples to oranges," but I think it's more like comparing apples to pencil sharpeners. You know?

Friend2

Well, I suppose I'll beat a dead horse lightly-- and double-meaning intended, that's what we do once somebody dies. Reagan or Ford bites the bucket and you don't trot out their failures. Some college kid at Virginia Tech who hadn't done much yet gets put prematurely from his or her misery and we nonetheless consider what they DID do, and mourn it. Someday, Badfreak, at your funeral you will probably hope nobody points out your tendency to compare apples to pencil sharpeners, or for that matter, your penchant for child porn (yes, yes, I make it up).

And, to go back a step, knowing Twain well (yes, there will always be 'Huck Finn,' and 'Tom Sawyer') and having read some of his disasters (Have you heard of a book called "The Gilded Age?"), I say the comparison stands in terms of both career, which I wasn't really referencing at all, and in terms of aesthetic. See, both writers used HUMOR with a (sometimes) more serious aim. Whereas Faulkner was about as funny as a good lynching.

Friend2

Although I do have to admit you probably won't hope anything, at your own funeral.

Friend Omega

I will say, in deference to my dear, dear friend Badfreak, that Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller stand out as American authors whose legacies might have been drastically improved had they not lived long enough to churn out the garbage that each did at the end of his career.

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