T Nation

Kurt Vonnegut Shares His Opinion

I Love You, Madame Librarian - by Kurt Vonnegut

by Kurt Vonnegut / In These Times

I, like probably most of you, have seen Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. Its title is a parody of the title of Ray Bradbury’s great science fiction novel, Fahrenheit 451. This temperature 451? Fahrenheit, is the combustion point, incidentally, of paper, of which books are composed. The hero of Bradbury’s novel is a municipal worker whose job is burning books.

And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.

And still on the subject of books: Our daily sources of news, papers and TV, are now so craven, so unvigilant on behalf of the American people, so uninformative, that only in books can we find out what is really going on. I will cite an example: House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger, published near the start of this humiliating, shameful blood-soaked year.

In case you haven’t noticed, and as a result of a shamelessly rigged election in Florida, in which thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily disenfranchised, we now present ourselves to the rest of the world as proud, grinning, jut-jawed, pitiless war lovers, with appallingly powerful weaponry and unopposed.

In case you haven’t noticed, we are now almost as feared and hated all over the world as the Nazis were.

With good reason.

In case you haven’t noticed, our unelected leaders have dehumanized millions and millions of human beings simply because of their religion and race. We wound and kill 'em and torture 'em and imprison 'em all we want.

Piece of cake.

In case you haven’t noticed, we also dehumanize our own soldiers, not because of their religion or race, but because of their low social class.

Send 'em anywhere. Make 'em do anything.

Piece of cake.

The O’Reilly Factor.

So I am a man without a country, except for the librarians and the Chicago-based magazine you are reading, In These Times.

Before we attacked Iraq, the majestic New York Times guaranteed that there were weapons of mass destruction there.

Albert Einstein and Mark Twain gave up on the human race at the end of their lives, even though Twain hadn’t even seen World War I. War is now a form of TV entertainment. And what made WWI so particularly entertaining were two American inventions, barbed wire and the machine gun. Shrapnel was invented by an Englishman of the same name. Don’t you wish you could have something named after you?

Like my distinct betters Einstein and Twain, I now am tempted to give up on people too. And, as some of you may know, this is not the first time I have surrendered to a pitiless war machine.

My last words? “Life is no way to treat an animal, not even a mouse.”

Napalm came from Harvard. Veritas!

Our president is a Christian? So was Adolf Hitler.

What can be said to our young people, now that psychopathic personalities, which is to say persons without consciences, without a sense of pity or shame, have taken all the money in the treasuries of our government and corporations and made it all their own?

Pretty interesting…

Allow me to echo what we’re likely to see in response to this:

“What the hell does Vonnegut know? He doesn’t lift weights…that unbalanced pussy!”

“George Walker Bush is a patriot in the greatest sense of the word, hunting down those damned terrorists and protect each and every American life. He is a hero. He attended the best schools completely on his own merit and won the presidency because the people trust him and relate to him…These higher-ed types need to get their noses out of their books and start watching FOX – I mean, start watching the real world”

“Nazis? He’s going to compare us to Nazis? I wonder what he would have said if we didn’t move in on Iraq and Saddaam started taking over the middle east, then Europe, and…everywhere else? I wonder who the Nazi would have been then, Vonnegut!”

“Here we go – more comparisons of Bush to Hitler. Liberals can do nothing if not resort to the most simple form of negative associations.”

(man, I write too well to speculate on the words of the men 'round here!)

“If Vonnegut hates the country so much, why doesn’t he just get the hell out of here!!!”

“This dude should shut the fuck up and stand behind the President and support the troops that protect his free ass! What is he anyway – one of those Hollywood directors thinking they know everything about the world? What is he – one of those namby pamby philopsycholophers, or whatever? He should get his head out of his ass and make a donation to the greatest president ever, GWB!!!”

Oh, this is too much fun! I, personally, respect Vonnegut and thought it was a fine piece.

Well…R.S.U.

The Democrates want to fuck you with a donkey sized cock. The Republicans want to fuck you with an elephant sized cock. Either way, we’re all fucked.

Also…In my opinion you have the most kick-ass avatar of all-time.

Well, I think Vonnegut iss a very smart guy, like many novelists. I’d like to know what his solutions to current American and world problems are.

I agree with some of the things he said, but what can be done?

It’s very hard to discuss such things with anyone, and all the harder on a public forum such as this. So seldom is the goal actually the furthering of our knowledge and so often it is the humiliation of our “opponents.”

I don’t think there is any chance that those who support the US government will ever change their minds, regardless of what they hear, and the same for those who oppose it.

Really, when was the last time anyone changed their mind about anything? We’ve all got it figured out I guess.

I know I don’t have much figured out. I doubt Bush or Vonnegut do either.


JMB

The saddest part about his piece is not the fact that he can be so utterly wrong on so many issues in such a short space, but that he can do so with such a name recognition that people will actually take his statements for something other than his ill informed personal opinion. The comments about the election are particularly damning to his credibility.

I just started a book by Dineesh D’souza called “What’s so Great about America”, and for all the negativity surrounding our country in the past year or so, its refreshing that someone who is clearly very well educated, and from another country and has made this his home, can extol the virtues and see this countries faults and attributes better than someone who has lived here his whole life. I recommend it all to you.

[quote]DPH wrote:
Well…R.S.U.

The Democrates want to fuck you with a donkey sized cock. The Republicans want to fuck you with an elephant sized cock. Either way, we’re all fucked.

Also…In my opinion you have the most kick-ass avatar of all-time.[/quote]

lol…thanks, I think.

Instinct tells me a donkey-cock is smaller than that of an elephant…so I’m there!

[quote]JMB wrote:
Well, I think Vonnegut iss a very smart guy, like many novelists. I’d like to know what his solutions to current American and world problems are.

I agree with some of the things he said, but what can be done?

It’s very hard to discuss such things with anyone, and all the harder on a public forum such as this. So seldom is the goal actually the furthering of our knowledge and so often it is the humiliation of our “opponents.”

I don’t think there is any chance that those who support the US government will ever change their minds, regardless of what they hear, and the same for those who oppose it.

Really, when was the last time anyone changed their mind about anything? We’ve all got it figured out I guess.

I know I don’t have much figured out. I doubt Bush or Vonnegut do either.


JMB[/quote]

I appreciate such humility. This is something I’ve tried to convey many times around here – there is a shit load I don’t know! JMB: this puts us a step ahead, as we KNOW we DON’T KNOW!

BTW, I’ve been swayed or at least influenced by the right approach from the opposite side on this site a few times…it’s possible, I think.

T-Stag,

Thanks. I disagree with nearly everything written in that piece. It’s refreshing to read something like that. I know if I believe the opposite of that person, I’m doing well.

See you in November,

JeffR

How about this one:

It’s good to see Vonnegut hasn’t lost his flair for writing fiction…

T-Stag: Bush is a Christian in name only. He uses it to placate to the so-called “moral majority”. You know there are a lot of votes in that crowd. Christians ought to be ashamed that he even uses the term.

DPH: I completely agree. I wish most people felt this way then we could begin to work our way out this country’s quandry.

JMB: I disagree. If the public were given the proper information(the truth) they would use their God-given common sense and stop the destruction and corruption of our government and corporations.

bilbritewave: I watched a debate in reference to 9/11 between D’souza, Gore Vidal and Paul Craig Roberts(I think). D’souza could not hold his own. But I suspect that is tough to do when truth is not on your side. It was sponsored by the Independent Institute.

Heres a good one:
‘Doesn’t Vonnegut realise it was our American asses that saved the country that his surname may or may not have orginally been from back in World North Koreatnam War 4!?’

[quote]JohnGullick wrote:
Heres a good one:
‘Doesn’t Vonnegut realise it was our American asses that saved the country that his surname may or may not have orginally been from back in World North Koreatnam War 4!?’[/quote]

WHAT ??

Who the fuck is Kurt Vonnegut?

[quote]jackzepplin wrote:
Who the fuck is Kurt Vonnegut?[/quote]

An author of humorous and sarcastic works criticising American culture and lamenting the loss of the America he remembers from his youth (an America which, according to some, never existed at all). I’m rather a fan of his work, particularly Harrison Bergeron, and amusingly enough his daughter was my fourth-grade teacher while I was in Italy.

Vonnegut generally identifies problems, paints them in the worst possible light, and throws up his hands as though these problems are insoluble. This is all well and good as long as you recognise it for what it is: satiric hyperbole. Mistaking it for real political insight is a good way to develop stupid ideas.

[quote]CDarklock wrote:
jackzepplin wrote:
Who the fuck is Kurt Vonnegut?

An author of humorous and sarcastic works criticising American culture and lamenting the loss of the America he remembers from his youth (an America which, according to some, never existed at all). I’m rather a fan of his work, particularly Harrison Bergeron, and amusingly enough his daughter was my fourth-grade teacher while I was in Italy.

Vonnegut generally identifies problems, paints them in the worst possible light, and throws up his hands as though these problems are insoluble. This is all well and good as long as you recognise it for what it is: satiric hyperbole. Mistaking it for real political insight is a good way to develop stupid ideas.[/quote]

I was kidding, sort of. I know that he writes fiction. I don’t believe in fiction.

LOL

Tremblant- I was doing a bit of my own satire against the right wing peoples random and confused attacks on Bush opposition and those ‘anti-Americans’ who live outside America. Don’t worry, I won’t give up my day job

get a fuckin clue buddy!

It would take far to much time to take apart Vonnegut’s diatribe. Needless to state he is lost somewhere out there between Jupiter and Mars.

(In a way he is like RSU’s college Profs. Come on smile man…)