Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quotes - Palm Sunday - Kurt Vonnegut

Read from 9/2/08 to 9/9/08

"Well - all good things must come to an end, they say. So American freedom will come to an end, too, sooner or later. How will it end? As all freedoms end: by the surrender of our destinies to the highest laws."
-Page 12, Palm Sunday

"I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak."
-Page 105, Palm Sunday

"She could have been a remarkable sculptor, too. I bawled her out one time for not doing more with the talents she had. She replied that talent doesn't carry with it the obligation that something has to be done to me. This was startling to me."
-Page 107, Palm Sunday

"VONNEGUT: There is no shortage of wonderful writers. What we lack is a dependable mass of readers.
INTERVIEWER: So-?
VONNEGUT: I propose that every person out of work be required to submit a book report before he or she gets his or her welfare check.?"
-Page 117, Palm Sunday, in an interview with himself

"I would add that novelists are not only unusually depressed, by and large, but have, on the average, about the same IQs as the cosmetics consultants at Bloomingdale's department store. Our power is patience. We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time."
-Page 128, Palm Sunday

"As for literary criticism in general: I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel or a play or a poem is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on a full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or a banana split."
-Page 136, Palm Sunday

"Psychoanalysts are missing important clues about patients' childhoods if they do not ask about dogs the patients knew. As I have said elsewhere, dogs still seem as respectable and interesting as people to me. Any day."
-Page 147, Palm Sunday

"Everybody knows that the dumbest people in any American university are in the education department, and English after that."
-Page 156, Palm Sunday

"'As you know, it isn't enough for a reader to pick up the little symbols from a page with his eyes, or, as is the case with a blind person, with his fingertips. Once we get those symbols inside our heads and in the proper order, then we must clothe them in gloom or joy or apathy, in love or hate, in anger or peacefulness, or however the author intended them to be clothed. In order to be good readers, we must even recognize irony - which is when a writer says one thing and really means another, contradicting himself in what he believes to be a beguiling cause.

We even have to get jokes! God help us if we miss a joke."
-Page 162, Palm Sunday

"Are we foolish to be so elated by books in an age of movies and television? Not in the least, for our ability to read, when combined with libraries like this one, makes us the freest of women and men - and children."
-Page 163, Palm Sunday

"As for boredom: Friedrich Wilhelm Neitzsche, a German philosopher who died seventy-eight years ago, had this to say: 'Against boredom even the gods contend in vain.'"
-Page 181, Palm Sunday, read on the same day as quote in The Antichrist

"A friend of mine once spoke to me about what he called the 'existential hum,' the uneasiness which keeps us moving, which never allows us to feel entirely at ease. He had tried heroin once. He said he understood at once the seductiveness of that narcotic. For the first time in his life, he was not annoyed by the existential hum."
-Page 185, Palm Sunday

"What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured."
-Page 198, Palm Sunday

"If we were to try to grow strains of hypocrisy in the laboratory, what would we grow them in? I think they would grow like Jack's beanstalk in a mulch of ancient moral codes."
-Page 202, Palm Sunday

"One corpse tends to look pretty much like another one - until the historians sort them out with the benefit of hindsight."
-Page 208, Palm Sunday

"What happens if you credit a bum with human dignity - a drunken bum with his pants full of shit and snot dangling from his nose? At least you haven't made yourself poorer in a financial sense. And he can't take whatever it is that you have given him and spend it on Thunderbird wine.

There is this drawback, though: If you give to that sort of a stranger the uncritical respect that you give to friends and relatives, you will also want to understand and help him. There is no way to avoid this.

Be warned: If you allow yourself to see dignity in someone, you have doomed yourself to wanting to understand and help whoever it is."
-Page 214, Palm Sunday

"What is so comical about religious people in modern times? They believe so many things which science has proven to be unknowable or absolutely wrong."
-Page 215, Palm Sunday

"How on earth can religious people believe in so much arbitrary, clearly invented balderdash? For one thing, I guess, the balderdash is usually beautiful - and therefore echos excitingly in the more primitive lobes of our brains, where knowledge counts for nothing."
-Page 215, Palm Sunday

"There was a man in a restaurant, and he called the waiter over, and he said, 'Waiter - there is a needle in my soup.' And the waiter said to him, 'Oh sir, I am so sorry. That is a typographical error. It should have been a noodle.'"
-Page 239, Palm Sunday

All quotes from Kurt Vonnegut's Palm Sunday, 1981 by Delacorte Press, 0-440-06593-3

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