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Kurt Vonnegut Dies at 84

Posted by on April 14, 2007

This from Dale Rigby

Dear mourners…I’m forwarding the thoughts of distinquished WKU alum Aubrey Videtto, meditating on the recent death of Kurt Vonnegut.

The first Vonnegut book I read was in a 20th C. Lit class at the University of Louisville. We read Slaughterhouse-Five along with other incredible works – some were The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Handmaid’s Tale, Steppenwolf, and The Trial. The company of writers in that course would have made for an interesting dinner party, to say the least. And when the significance of the title of Vonnegut’s work dawned on me, while I savored the book jacket one afternoon prior to diving into its body, I had a shocking realization about words and literature.

They make people, as much as anything can, real for me. I still see him creeping back out to dusty, smoky daylight and tripping through the rubble of war and desolation like a sheltered child who has stumbled into a cock fight, and I still feel that way sometimes, though I know it’s egotistical to think we’ve felt even a little the same, ever. That’s how I understand humanity – through its words, and Vonnegut was one of our best wordsmiths…

If you would like to read more of Aubrey Videtto’s work check out her essay which appeared in the 2005 Zephyrus.

Here are some additional quotes from Aubrey taken from Vonnegut:

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.
-The Sirens of Titan

The worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody would be to not be used for anything by anybody. Thank you for using me, even though I didn’t want to be used by anybody.
-The Sirens of Titan

Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.
-Mother Night

The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.

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

-Vonnegut’s Blues For America 07 January, 2006 Sunday Herald

I love you sons of bitches. You’re all I read any more. You’re the only ones who’ll talk all about the really terrific changes going on, the only ones crazy enough to know that life is a space voyage, and not a short one, either, but one that’ll last for billions of years. You’re the only ones with guts enough to really care about the future, who really notice what machines do to us, what wars do to us, what cities do to us, what big, simple ideas do to us, what tremendous misunderstanding, mistakes, accidents, catastrophes do to us. You’re the only ones zany enough to agonize over time and distance without limit, over mysteries that will never die, over the fact that we are right now determining whether the space voyage for the next billion years or so is going to be Heaven or Hell.
-God Bless You, Mr Rosewater (Eliot Rosewater to a group of science fiction writers)

So it goes.

Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.

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