Vonnegut revealed the world's absurdity
“I think the Earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us, as well it should.”
So it went.
Man born. Man died. Lots of funny stuff written in between.
Kurt Vonnegut - post-modern satirist, king of the catchphrase (should've trademarked 'So it goes,' old boy), one of America's great rite-of-passage novelists - died Wednesday at 84.
Official cause of death: brain injuries suffered in a fall.
Or, as Mr. Vonnegut would say, 'slipped on God's banana peel.'
He was a self-described humanist who didn't put much stock in humans, those glorious, hare-brained underachievers. Read moreRead more
“The World is One Country ”
Since: Sep 06
George Town Tasmania
#1 Apr 14, 2007
In 1959, the year I joined the Bahaíi Faith, the year I turned 15, Kurt Vonnegut published his second novel The Sirens of Titan. By the late 1960s this novel had become a cult-book of the counter-culture. The genre is novel, sci-fi, space-opera, black humour, satire and fabulation. The story-line, the narrative is based on a world where machines have taken over. The story is told by a future historian. Faith in science, technology and progress is undermined as is humankindís ability to shape its future. Vonnegut questions the very nature of reality and argues that individuals have the ineluctable responsibility to make meaning out of their lives by looking within not without at organized religions. Looking back after more than forty years, I would place Vonnegut among the first of a "New Wave" of science fiction writers who appeared in the 1960s and who have inhabited one of the many backdrops of my life.-Ron Price with thanks to Herbert G. Klein, "Kurt Vonnegutís The Sirens of Titan and the Question of Genre," EESE 5/98.
I had heard those enchanting sirens1
back in the fifties; little did I know
about their sharp rocks, the perils
of chronic and committed rapture,
growing dedication, deeper belief--
that would be later.
Iíve seen many draw near
to those voices and, yes,
Iíve seen them shipwrecked.
For these sirens were daughters
(so the myth goes)2 of the sea
and river gods, Nymphs partly
bird and partly human.
Yes, their voices enchant,
but be warned: this journey
to their island home is not
for the timid & overwrought,
not for the vainly pious,
the pusillanimous of spirit,
not for those who think this
is some kind of vacation,
who seem somehow to have
missed the point that:
this ardent, often tiring, voyage
on this unvariable storm-lashed brig
with the unseasonable rains,
the sweet song of the dove,
the bird, the clear beauty
of the sirenís notes is mostly distant,
on some far-off island, faintly heard,
but they sweep me out to sea
and in full consent I drown,
though I do not like all the journey.3
I wish you well, Kurt, in your journey
which, as Shelley called it. now goes
to that undiscovered country.
1 I first heard the Bahaíi Writings in the years 1953 to 1959. These are the sirens, for me.
2 This poem also draws on the Greek myth of the Sirens, part bird and part human.
3 I thank Roger White and his poems "Parable for the Wrong People" and "Sightseeing"(Pebble s, pp.69-75) for some of his phraseology.
December 20th 2004
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