It's Recess-time Somewhere

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July 05, 2005

A Day Late, And More Than 1700 Short

The Rude Pundit reminds us of a nice excerpt from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle.

"We are gathered here, friends," he said, "to honor lo Hoon-year
Mora-toorz tut Zamoo-cratz-ya, children dead, all dead, all murdered in
war. It is customary on days like this to call such lost children men.
I am unable to call them men for this simple reason: that in the same war
in which lo Hoon-year Mora-toorz tut Zamoo-cratz-ya died, my own son died.

"My soul insists that I mourn not a man but a child.

"I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to
die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame, they do die
like men, thus making possible the manly jubilation of patriotic holidays.

"But they are murdered children all the same.

"And I propose to you that if we are to pay our sincere respects to the
hundred lost children of San Lorenzo, that we might best spend the day
despising what killed them; which is to say, the stupidity and viciousness
of all mankind.

"Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and
paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like
pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows
of flags and well-oiled guns.

"I do not mean to be ungrateful for the fine, martial show we are about to
see – and a thrilling show it really will be…"

He looked each of us in the eye, and then he commented very softly,
throwing it away, "And hooray I say for thrilling shows."

We had to strain our ears to hear what Minton said next.

"But if today is really in honor of a hundred children murdered in war," he said, "is today a day for a thrilling show?

"The answer is yes, on one condition: that we, the celebrants are working consciously and tirelessly to reduce the stupidity and viciousness of
ourselves and all mankind."


  • At July 05, 2005, Anonymous ricky said…

    My favorite Vonnegut novel was always Player Piano. Never really got the respect it deserved.

    But, I think, if you go back and read it, right about now, it's pretty much on the money.

    It's been a while since I read it. But there's one passage, where some American diplomat is leading an Arab prince through American homes, and showing off all the American appliances, and American entertainment devices, and the Saudi prince, looks at Americans, nods his head, approvingly, and calls them "slaves".

    It was fiction a long time ago. But, you know, it's pretty close to the truth now.

  • At July 06, 2005, Blogger cookie christine said…

    And I was just looking for a new book to read. Thanks Ricky!


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