We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
Mother Night (1961)
Tiger got to hunt, Bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why?
Tiger got to sleep, Bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand
Cat's Cradle (1963)
Listen: we are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
High school is closer to the core of the American experience that anything else I can think of.
Introduction to Our Time Is Now: Notes From the High School Underground (1970) John Birmingham, ed.
You know - we've had to imagine the war here, and we have imagined that it was being fought by aging men like ourselves. We had forgotten that wars were fought by babies. When I saw those freshly shaved faces, it was a shock. "My God, my God -" I said to myself, "it's the Children's Crusade."
I was taught in the sixth grade that we had a standing army of just over a hundred thousand men and that the generals had nothing to say about what was done in Washington. I was taught to be proud of that and to pity Europe for having more than a million men under arms and spending all their money on airplanes and tanks. I simply never unlearned junior civics. I still believe in it. I got a very good grade.
quoted by James Lundquist in Kurt Vonnegut (1971)
[When] I was a student at the University of Chicago, I had a conversation with my thesis advisor about the arts in general. At that time, I had no idea that I personally would go into any sort of art.
He said, "You know what artists are?"
"Artists," he said, "are people who say, "I can't fix my country or my state or my city, or even my marriage. But by golly, I can make this square of canvas, or this eight-and-a-half-by-eleven piece of paper, or this lump of clay, or these twelve bars of music, exactly what they ought to be!'"
Artists use frauds to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking more entertainingly than people really talk, make paltry human enterprises seem important. Singers and musicians show us human beings making sounds far more lovely than human beings really make. Architects give us temples in which something marvelous is obviously going on. Actually, practically nothing is going on.
"When I Was Twenty-One" "Address to Graduating Class at Bennington College, 1970" in Wampeters, Foma and Granfaloons (1974)
Nothing is this book is true. "Live by the foma [harmless untruths] that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy."
The Books of Bokonon 1:5 epigram in dedication to Cat's Cradle (1963)
In real life, as in Grand Opera, arias only make hopeless situations worse.
1. Find a subject you care about. 2. Do not ramble, though. 3. Keep it simple. 4. Have the guts to cut. 5. Sound like yourself. 6. Say what you mean to say. 7. Pity the readers.
quoted in Science Fictionisms (1995) compiled by William Rotsler
We are human only to the extent that our ideas remain humane.
Breakfast of Champions (1973)
I don't care if I'm remembered or not when I'm dead. (A scientist I knew at General Electric, who was married to a woman named Josephine, said to me, "Why should I buy life insurance? If I die, I won't care what's happening to Jo. I won't care about anything. I'll be dead.")
Fates Worse Than Death (1991)
And so on.
Breakfast of Champions (1973)
Many people need desperately to receive this message: "I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people don't care about them. You are not alone."
One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.
Addenda: If you're a Vonnegut fan perhaps you can help me: I've been looking for information behind a particular quote by Vonnegut for some years now, without success. I've posted about it here and here.
I'm also looking for a source for a quote widely attributed to Vonnegut, but always without any indication of its provenance:
Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.
Vonnegut shares some characteristics of Mark Twain, perhaps the least of which is that people have a tendency to misattribute pithy sayings and aphorisms to them. Others who are frequent victims of misattribution: Albert Einstein and H.L. Mencken.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.