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12 April, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Lives

One of the wittiest and wisest men of the Twentieth Century – of any century – has died. Kurt Vonnegut was 84 and died of head injuries following a fall a few weeks ago. I don't know anyone who doesn't admire Vonnegut and love his books. We all have our favourites (and they usually include Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five) and there are going to be thousands of accolades in the next few days, so let me get a plug in now for my two: The Sirens of Titan and Breakfast of Champions. If you're about to re-read the man's work, try to find time for these two.

I had a cat – about thirty years ago! - which I called Montana Wildhack as my own little tribute to this incredible man's genius. As another, I'd like to list a couple of his better-known quotes, just because so much of what he said deserves saying over and over again.

All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or
explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we
are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber. (Slaughterhouse-Five)

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is
around to be loved. (Sirens of Titan)

Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state
of denial, about to face cold turkey. (Cold Turkey)

Life is no way to treat an animal, not even a mouse.(A Man Without A Country)

Without Vonnegut, who is there to chide us and praise us for our weakness and grandeur? Which new humanist will step into those giant shoes – the ones with curly toes and bells on? Who else could be so angry and scared and funny and clever all at the same time?

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