Friday Food for Thought: 5 May 2023

My God – life! Who can understand even one little minute of it?

Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

I want to like Kurt Vonnegut’s novels. I really do. He seems to have been a very likeable person, possessed of above-average wisdom and compassion. He endured hardships I can’t even imagine and came through it all with a sense of humor. Plus he was from my home state of Indiana. (Life in this country would be a lot more fun if Indiana produced more Vonneguts and fewer Pences.) Based on the trailer, the 2022 documentary Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time looks fascinating:

I read Cat’s Cradle (1963) this week, my first venture with Vonnegut. I didn’t dislike it, but I wasn’t exactly captivated, either. The book had insightful moments, but much of the story felt like Vonnegut simply wrote whatever quirky things popped into his head. (Given my own track record as a writer, it’s possible that I don’t know what I’m talking about.) Anyway, from Cat’s Cradle:

  • p. 171: Mega-millionaire Julian Castle: “I’m grateful for things that work. Not many things do work, you know.”
  • p. 254: Ambassador to San Lorenzo, Horlick Minton: “I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame, they do die like men, thus making possible the manly jubilation of patriotic holidays. But they are murdered children, all the same.”

Either way, I’m now reading Timequake (1997) and so far it’s much more to my liking.

I currently live in a town that seems like the loudest place on earth, so my love of music is almost never fulfilled. However, I’ve been revisiting one of my favorite John Mellencamp albums this week, Life, Death, Love and Freedom (2008). I must have good taste, since Mellenamp himself said, “In my mind that record is as good as just about any record ever made.” The songs are bittersweet and indicate a songwriter who has made peace with his own mortality, even though Mellencamp thankfully is still going strong fifteen years later. I’m not a religious person, but many of Mellencamp’s songs reference Christianity and I almost always like them. “A Ride Back Home” really grabbed me this time, describing a weariness I feel myself these days:

“When I started out I was so young and so strong
I just let it roll off my back when things went wrong
Now it’s starting to get to me
All of this inhumanity”

I’m taking some time to hopefully rest and recharge, but hope to be back to regular posting in late May or early June. To all two of my regular readers, keep doing what you’re doing. Unless you want to do something else, then do that.

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