Culture

Is It Too Late To Piss on Kurt Vonnegut's Grave Using Kilgore Trout's Unusually Shaped Penis?

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I was traveling last week when Kurt Vonnegut Jr. died and I didn't have a chance to comment on his passing. I was never a huge fan of his work or his persona, though, like Jesse Walker and many other libertarians I know, I enjoyed a number of his books and stories (high school, I'm sure, is a better place for having "Harrison Bergeron" on many mandatory reading lists).

But Vonnegut was also an unironic fool who both profoundly hated and misunderstood life in contemporary America. Here's a Hit & Run entry on that point from Brian Doherty in April 2003:

Kurt Vonnegut Wishes He Were Never Born

Kurt Vonnegut is now doing an advice column for the left-leaning biweekly In These Times (and slowly wearing away the residual affection I have for him based on how groovy I thought Cat's Cradle was when I was 12.) In the April 14 issue, he advises a woman thinking of having a baby: "Don't do it!" since the kid would be "unlucky to be in [a society] without a National Health plan or decent public education." While this anti-life, insanely privileged and whiny opinion is bad enough, somehow my respect for him as a writer and thinker was even more damaged by his further advice that she—to avoid having a baby who might have to suffer the existence-nullifying pain of perhaps having to, as an adult, pay for its own health insurance or medical bills—"go on practicing safe sex." That sort of lifeless, prissy, abstract bilge marks one as a social worker, not a practicer of literature.

And here's an entry by me from December 2002, a couple of weeks before Hit & Run actually went live:

Slaughterhouse Jive or, Why Kurt Vonnegut Is a Fool

In the November issue of Indianapolis Monthly, the 80-year-old Vonnegut reminds the world why he's a has-been.

"There's so much talk about 9/11," observes the novelist best known for Slaughterhouse Five, a book inspired in part by his experience surviving the firebombing of Dresden, "but what the crooks on Wall Street and in big corporations have done to us has been more destructive."

At the very least, the major corporations that published Galapagos, Deadeye Dick, and Timequake have some explaining to do.

Maybe it's bad form to kick a man when he's beyond down, but somehow I suspect Vonnegut might appreciate it.

NEXT: Why Pork Barrel Spending Is Called Such (and Why the Term Is Couched in America's Racist Past)

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  1. There ya go, I’m not crazy. You Islamo-loving tree huggers are.

  2. In the April 14 issue, he advises a woman thinking of having a baby: “Don’t do it!” since the kid would be “unlucky to be in [a society] without a National Health plan or decent public education.”

    HA HA HA

    We’re all foolish to reproduce. I suppose suicide attacks for national healthcare would be “sweet and honorable”.

    Fucking kook.

  3. Oh my gosh, I had no idea Kurt was such a curmudgeon. Thanks to this timely revelation, I will now be pro-war forever. That’s how anti-lifeless I am.

  4. I should have prefaced my above post by stating that a book is a book, not an extention of the author’s writings in some lib rag.

  5. Life is good, Nick. Kumbaya. Didnt I read somewhere, Nick, that you we’re a fan of Steppenwolf and The Stranger. Not exactly pro-life fiction, that.

    Funny this post should post the same day as Ronalds article on how we’re all ‘a little bit Marxist’

    Some folks are really rich in this country, Kurt just thinks those folks should be penalized a little to help others pay their med. bills. Human nature, see.

  6. My first KV book was Breakfast of Champions. I still think it was his best. I doubt I’d have read another if I had started with any other. I remember reading that the author didn’t think it was very good.

  7. What a difference a week makes.

  8. Thanks for this.

    Glad to see that not everyone at H&R as is enamored of the old hippy as is Jesse “stop being the boor at the funeral and go piss on another thread” Walker. Surprised you didn’t get the same petulant response from JW as did The Grand Chalupa, because we all know that there are no double standards at H&R.

  9. Most decent artists are assholes and hold stupid opinions. No matter what Vonnegut is still a true American original, the kind of writer no other country could ever produce. And I prefer to simply pretend he simply stopped writing around 1980, the same way I know the Rolling Stones never released an album after Tattoo You, and The Who ended in 1978 when Keith Moon died.

  10. And Anonymous pours the first drinks of the day

  11. Surprised you didn’t get the same petulant (sic) response from JW as did The Grand Chalupa, because we all know that there are no double standards at H&R.

    There are at least two notable differences between Nick’s post and Chalupa’s comments:

    1. Nick’s criticisms are based on sentiments that the aging Vonnegut actually expressed, not a half-baked misreading of a literary allusion.

    2. Nick refrained from using terms like “good riddance.”

    While these distinctions might not be obvious to you or your pal Chalupa, I think roughly 98% of the adult world finds it easy to recognize and respect them.

  12. We’re all foolish to reproduce.
    Your genes think otherwise.

    Vonnegut wrote some very amusing stories, but treating authors, esp. of fiction, like they’re significant for anything else is a mistake; Vonnegut’s philosophies are not important beyond their influence on his own writing.

  13. In this week’s Sports Illustrated, they mention his death. One of Vonnegut’s first jobs as a writer was with SI, despite the fact that he said he knew nothing about sports. His first assignment was to write a caption for a pic of a thoroughbred who had gone over the rail.

    Vonnegut wrote “The horse jumped over the fucking fence” and left the building, never to return.

  14. the same way I know the Rolling Stones never released an album after Tattoo You,

    Heh – I was listening to a live bootleg from ’72 when I read that, but I always thought their last studio album was “Exile.”

    Most decent artists are assholes and hold stupid opinions.
    Relating to the Stones, I heard they played at some fundraiser for Billary. Yuck.

  15. I’ve read all his books, enjoyed them all, and continue to read them, and enjoy them, from time to time. However, I ceased being a dedicated follower of Kurt Vonnegut the human being, as opposed to the author, around the time I turned 18.

  16. If my daughter had married Geraldo Rivera, I’d question the wisdom of reproduction too.

  17. History notes that the editor-in-chief of Reason magazine thought very little of the author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat’s Cradle, and Mother Night.

    We’ll see how that looks in a few years’ time. Actually, it looks pretty ridiculous already.

  18. JW:

    So, what’s with the “(sic)?”

    Extra bonus petulance points for grammatical criticism in lieu of substance. Drinks for everyone!

    While these distinctions might not be obvious to you or your pal Chalupa, I think roughly 98% of the adult world finds it easy to recognize and respect them.

    FTR, I’m not invested in TGC, or any other H&R writer or poster.

    Extra, extra petulance points for your paragraph, above, which only reinforces my point.

    Too early for so much drink!

  19. “We’ll see how that looks in a few years’ time. Actually, it looks pretty ridiculous already.”

    Gotta agree with you there, Roy.

    I only came across this so-called ‘Reason magazine’ because of googling Kurt.

    Me, personally, I recommend his “Sirens of Titan” – as you might spot where Douglas Adams possibly found inspiration for H2G2 (Hitch-Hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy).

    Some people just don’t get deadpan humour – they even (it says here) call it ‘unironic’!

    heh heh

  20. “I only came across this so-called ‘Reason magazine’ because of googling Kurt.”

    DRRRRRRRRRRINK!

    you may not know this, but your googling actually turned you into a walking in-joke you never new existed.

    how’s that for creepy?

  21. “While this anti-life, insanely privileged and whiny opinion is bad enough”

    I have never seen Vonnegut shoot Omega Beams from his eyes or travel in Boom Tubes.

    Retarded and mildly obscure comic book references aside, I just want to say that I really enjoyed the few Vonnegut novels I have read. Sure, I don’t agree with most of what he says, but he was an excellent and hilarious writer.

    Why the hell should we even have to agree with all or most of the stuff they say? Even writers with opinions closer to Reason’s have said really dumb stuff. Take Borges, for example, who once cheered for Argentina military junta and lived to regret it. Sure, he hated populism, communism and once said the best government was the one where there is less of it, but he hated football so screw him!

  22. Is there anyone else out there who thinks the Dead died after Pigpen died? They got all poppy and soft.
    Speaking of the Who as well, what a day Feb 14th 1970 was. The Dead played a legendary show at the Fillmore East, and the Who played live, at Leeds!

    Brian, be nice to old Kurt. He hadn’t, I think, gone to the Burn. If he had he’d a been shouting from the rooftops fornicate!

    Nick, you might be the fool. Why are corporations granted personhood? It’s a racket. And if you don’t see how the corporatists suck on the public trough in a manner to shame Ronnie’s fave queens, then maybe some silent observation of what actually IS would be useful to you.

  23. Extra bonus petulance points for grammatical criticism in lieu of substance.

    It wasn’t a grammatical criticism. I just don’t accept your characterization of my post as petulant.

    As for the substance, it was in the part of the comment that you decided not to quote or reply to — that is, the part where I directly explained why the “double standard” you’re asserting does not exist.

  24. However, I ceased being a dedicated follower of Kurt Vonnegut the human being, as opposed to the author, around the time I turned 18.

    There was a huge difference, which many people have trouble with (see Dixie Chicks and country fans). I find it insanely hypocritical to like his works until you find out he’s an idiot.

    Everyone is an idiot, ESPECIALLY when they get old.

  25. I never saw what others liked about his writing. I laughed out loud when I read the reference to him in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s otherwise forgettable Inferno.

  26. Yeah, it’s bad form and no, there’s nothing in his worldview that indicates he would appreciate being heavily criticized upon his death for two off-the-wall things he said, except perhaps in the sense that it wouldn’t surprise him for someone to do it.

  27. Most decent artists are assholes and hold stupid opinions. No matter what Vonnegut is still a true American original, the kind of writer no other country could ever produce. And I prefer to simply pretend he simply stopped writing around 1980, the same way I know the Rolling Stones never released an album after Tattoo You, and The Who ended in 1978 when Keith Moon died.

    There are at least two notable differences between Nick’s post and Chalupa’s comments:

    1. Nick’s criticisms are based on sentiments that the aging Vonnegut actually expressed, not a half-baked misreading of a literary allusion.

    2. Nick refrained from using terms like “good riddance.”

    While these distinctions might not be obvious to you or your pal Chalupa, I think roughly 98% of the adult world finds it easy to recognize and respect them.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Of course, Chalupa said “good riddance” about Kurt Vonnegut’s passing because Vonnegut thought nuking Hirohima and Nagasaki was unjustified, an opinion which was also held by that commie Islamo-loving tree hugger Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

    Speaking of Chalupa, below is a recent comment from him which just collapses under the weight of it own irony.

    How bout getting your self worth some other way than cowardly typing messages to people you don’t know and saying things on anonymous internet site that you would never have the balls to say in person?

  28. Speaking of Chalupa, below is a recent comment from him which just collapses under the weight of it own irony.

    Funny how you leave out the part about the reason that makes you more pathetic then the average troll, which is that you are cyber stalking me.

    Just to review, I’ve posted about three or four times this week. I’ve noticed about the same number of posts from mr. Asharak and I am mentioned in every single one.

    Most people get into their arguments and move on. You sir, are obsessed.

  29. Looks like a mutual stalking to me.

  30. Looks like a mutual stalking to me.

    Indeed.

    Chalupa’s “cyber-stalking” accusation is also absurd considering I’ve only talked about him here on H&R. I suppose every other person on here who replies to him and mentions his screen name are “obsessed” too, if we go by his defition of the word.
    He obviously has delusions of grandeur if he believes I view him as that significant, and for someone who tries to make himself out to be a tough guy, he sure is thin-skinned.

    In fact, I’ll stop mentioning Chalupa for good if only to get him to stop whining about it.

  31. I keep wondering what the College Required Reading List would look like if students (and therefore professors) had to spend four years in the real world before starting.

  32. Chalupa’s “cyber-stalking” accusation is also absurd considering I’ve only talked about him here on H&R. I suppose every other person on here who replies to him and mentions his screen name are “obsessed” too,

    No, people who post about nothing but me, and bring up my name in posts that have nothing to do with me (happened twice in the last couple weeks and I haven’t checked that many threads) are obsessed. If you have ever posted a post where I wasn’t mentioned I’ve missed it. No one fits that criteria but you.

    In fact, I’ll stop mentioning Chalupa for good if only to get him to stop whining about it.

    Deal. You stop stalking me and I’ll stop talking about you stalking me.

  33. I guess I can see Nick’s point. Vonnegut seemed to “suffer” from an inordinate amount of empathy. It makes for great books, keying in on an anti-war emotion or examining our empathy towards others. In the real world, it seemed to make Vonnegut a bitter old man. I’m still not convinced that his personal views matter. It’s not like he’s Paris Hilton or anybody important like that….

  34. Honestly, read his (sort of) autobiography entitled A Man Without a Country.
    In my opinion not only was he an amazing writer but a lovable, hilarious person, as illustrated in A Man Without a Country.
    This article and the comments below really, truly upset me. RIP Kurt Vonnegut.

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