From Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage by the clear-eyed Kurt Vonnegut. Palm Sunday, a moveable feast, was March 20 this year.
“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.”
“Anyway—because we are readers, we don’t have to wait for some communications executive to decide what we should think about next—and how we should think about it. We can fill our heads with anything from aardvarks to zucchinis—at any time of night or day.”
“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 full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or a banana split.”
“I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.”
“Be aware of this truth that the people on this earth could be joyous, if only they would live rationally and if they would contribute mutually to each others’ welfare.
“This world is not a vale of sorrows if you will recognize discriminatingly what is truly excellent in it; and if you will avail yourself of it for mutual happiness and well-being. Therefore, let us explain as often as possible, and particularly at the departure of life, that we base our faith on firm foundations, on Truth for putting into action our ideas which do not depend on fables and ideas which Science has long ago proven to be false.”
“I chose cultural anthropology, since it offered the greatest opportunity to write high-minded balderdash.”
“Laughs are exactly as honorable as tears. Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion, to the futility of thinking and striving anymore. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”
“Trust a crowd to look at the wrong end of a miracle every time.”
“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.”
“Bertrand Russell declared that, in case he met God, he would say to Him, “Sir, you did not give us enough information.” I would add to that, “All the same, Sir, I’m not persuaded that we did the best we could with the information we had. Toward the end there, anyway, we had tons of information.”
“A society, on occasion, can be the worst possible describer of mental health.”
“I know at last what I want to be when I grow up. When I grow up I want to be a little boy.”
“Some of you might go out and kill Communists, but that is no longer a fashionable thing to do. And you wouldn’t be killing real Communists anyway. This country has fulfilled more of the requirements of the Communist Manifesto than any avowedly Communist nation ever did. Maybe we’re the Communists.”
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Roy & Laddawan
One of dozens of such illuminative moments: “… for it is so shaded off into the surrounding infinite of things, that it seemed one of the general stolidity discernible in the whole visible world; which while causelessly active in uncounted modes, still eternally holds its peace, and ignores you, though you dig foundations for cathedrals.”
2.0131 A spatial object must be situated in infinite space. (A spatial point is an argument-point.) – From the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
This essay looks at comedians in China and how the US nurtured Joe Wong, a Chinese comedian who is a big star now in his native land.
Here’s the illustration by artist Hannah K. Lee for The New York Times‘ book review of Harold Bloom’s The Daemon Knows (a link can be found below this…). The book and the illustration are infused with capital A art. Read Lee’s illustration with the writers and poets in mind, and you will see what I mean.
Thomas Merton, during his Asian pilgrimage, waited for days to see and photograph Mount Kanchenjunga, but it was covered by clouds. His visual sense was acute. In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, he wrote: “Nothing resembles substance less than its shadow [words, drawings…]. To convey the meaning of something substantial you have to use not a shadow but a sign, not the imitation but the image. The image is a new and different reality, and of course it does not convey an impression of some object, but the mind of the subject: and that is something else again.” I discuss his pilgrimage and his photography in an essay under “On the Record,” which is listed in the column on the right. Merton died in Bangkok in December 1968.