Posted on April 12, 2007
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I’ve seen notices that Kurt Vonnegut has died. That’s a damn shame, because if there is one voice America needs right now it is his. He was a man with a hatred of war, not because
of being a peacenik but because he was a warrior. HisÂ eloquence and exquisite writing ability expressed that point as well as anyone ever has.
I have most of the books he wrote, and he is one of the few writers I reread. His work is suffused with hopeful pessimism and a misanthropic love for humanity. I wish I could be as skilled as being self-contradictory as him. AproposÂ of our recent discussions, I present a quote I’ve seen floating around a lot from his most recent book Man Without a Country (one of the few I don’t own.) I’m trusting this is really him, unlike the sunscreen thing.
… what made being alive almost worthwhile for me, besides music, was alll the saints I had met, who could be anywhere. By saints I meant people who behaved decently in a strikingly indecent society.
Joe, a young man from Pittsburgh, came up to me with one request: “Please tell me it will be okay.”
“Welcome to Earth, young man,” I said. “It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, Joe, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule I know of: Goddamn it, Joe, you’ve got to be kind!”
Goodbye, sir. In your honor I shall try to be more erudite and more kind. If someone ever notices, I’ll just say “That’s the Honigsberg and the Vonnegut in me talking.”