April 25th, 2007


Late to the Vonnegut Party

The Onion's AV Club has an article today - "15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will."
It's late to the party, Vonnegut passed last week. Never the less, every one of these quotes is a gem that needs no explication - though the AV Club's expansions are sentimental without being mawkish, and profoundly reverent of Vonnegut's irreverence. I suspect he'd have hated the lionization, but appreciated their careful thought to his carefully planned apparent carelessness. Every quote made some little part of my brain fire. The world is worse off without a writer like that.

4. "There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind."
This line from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater comes as part of a baptismal speech the protagonist says he's planning for his neighbors' twins: "Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind." It's an odd speech to make over a couple of infants, but it's playful, sweet, yet keenly precise in its summation of everything a new addition to the planet should need to know. By narrowing down all his advice for the future down to a few simple words, Vonnegut emphasizes what's most important in life. At the same time, he lets his frustration with all the people who obviously don't get it leak through just a little.
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My Daemon

I would have thought that my daemon would be prngd, AKA the entropy gathering daemon.

Badum bum. Unix humor, folks! I'm here all week.

No but really, here's my Golden Compass daemon. It wants to know if you agree.

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Good words, used well

When good writers write well, and I read it, I feel both smaller and bigger.

Bigger because I've stumbled on something that expands who I am, my understanding of the world, and the words that I use to know the world. Thought occurs in words; feral children raised without language do not and not invoke perception and logic in the same way that others can. The more I know of words, the more I can feel them, order them, sense them, use them - the more my place in the world expands. Maybe it's the growth of sorrow, of joy, of lust, of anger -- but always it is also the expanse of wonder. When I am really, truly in love, I've been content just to watch the object of my affection do any little thing; her smallest movement is entrancing. That's how I feel about well-turned phrases, about beautifully constructed stories - about that "oh god yes, it's just like that!" feeling one gets when absorbing the work of a real master.

And also I am smaller. I think of this fine writing, this amazing work - and I think also of my small, insignificant life. Of the stupid toys on my desk, of my thousand trivial obsessions and quotidian distractions. There is nothing grand about it, and I feel reduced. No - not reduced, but rather - put properly into my place, which is insignificant. The universe is vast and large and human deeds in it are of concern only to us - and even in that tiny sliver of what is real, all that I have done accounts for little, as I am too easily distracted by nonsense.

Oh, for the discipline to turn away from this, from going and getting another slice of picture, of noodling around with photographs, from fiddling around online. But here I am, fiddling around on line -- smaller by the minute. But yes, I certainly can appreciate the vlaue of that more and more, as years go by; thanks to good words, used well.
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