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Arts and Culture

Jane Ciabattari on Kurt Vonnegut

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Posted on Dec 25, 2009
vonnegut

By Jane Ciabattari

Occasionally from the nation’s cultural attic come rare finds—last touches of genius brought to light—like this wondrous new collection of vintage Kurt Vonnegut short stories. “Look at the Birdie” includes 14 previously unpublished short stories that were written in the years just following World War II, when Vonnegut was back home after witnessing the firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner of war. 

The stories are accompanied by Vonnegut’s own whimsical line drawings, and introduced by Vonnegut’s longtime tennis partner, best friend and literary man about New York, Sidney Offit, who is involved now in compiling a future Library of America Vonnegut volume. In the 1950s and early ’60s, Offit notes, Vonnegut had a growing family to support and published regularly in The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Cosmopolitan, Argosy. “Hemingway! Fitzgerald! Faulkner! Steinbeck! Vonnegut!” Offit writes. “Their literary legacies survived the demise of so many of the magazines that provided them with generous fees, per word or per line, and introduced them to hundreds of thousands, even millions of readers.”

Why were these stories, with their lean language and supercharged imaginative range, unpublished? Offit speculates they were probably never submitted, as Vonnegut was always revising. “He was a master craftsman, demanding of himself perfection of the story, the sentence, the word. I remember the rolled up balls of paper in the wastebaskets of his workrooms in Bridgehampton and on East Forty-eighth Street.” 

book cover

Look at the Birdie: Unpublished Short Fiction

By Kurt Vonnegut

Delacorte Press, 272 pages

Buy the book

 

By midcentury, when he was writing these stories, Vonnegut was just beginning to publish. In 1950 he sold his first short story, “Report on the Barnhouse Effect,” to Knox Burger, then fiction editor at Collier’s, for $750—six weeks’ pay at the PR job he had at GE. After Vonnegut sold a second story, Burger urged him to quit his job. In 1952 Vonnegut published his dystopian first novel, “Player Piano,” which drew in part on his graduate work in anthropology at the University of Chicago. By 1969 he had entered the literary lexicon with the Vietnam-era anti-war classic “Slaughterhouse Five.”

In fact, Vonnegut has become such a literary icon that it is surprising—indeed humanizing—to read the letter that opens this volume. This is the nervous young father Vonnegut writing to his friend Walter J. Miller back in 1951, five weeks after leaving his GE job to write full time, justifying his choice to write what he called “high-grade, slick bombast” for the slicks. The alternative, Vonnegut wrote, was “something to please The Atlantic, Harpers, or The New Yorker. To do this would be to turn out something after the fashion of somebody-or-other. … The kicks are based largely on having passed off a credible counterfeit. … This is poor competition for the fat checks from the slicks.” 

Vonnegut aimed to publish regularly in the publications his mother, before her suicide in 1944, had hoped to crack. “She was a good writer, it turned out, but she had no talent for the vulgarity the slick magazines required,” he said in an interview published in Paris Review in 1977.  “Fortunately, I was loaded with vulgarity, so when I grew up I was able to make her dream come true. Writing for Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post and Cosmopolitan and Ladies’ Home Journal and so on was as easy as falling off a log for me. I only wish she’d lived to see it.”

To see long excerpts from “Look at the Birdie,” click here.

Most of the stories in this collection display Vonnegut’s inimitable sense of the absurd and his tragicomic voice. They are fully formed and polished, with a quick setup (husbands and wives are popular in this mix), a surreal or sci-fi undertone, and a twist at the end. There is a Midwestern quality to Vonnegut’s storytelling (he was, after all, born and raised in Indianapolis)—accessible, plainspoken, with a straight-faced irony. 

The noirish title story is neatly constructed in a variation on the “man walked into a bar” plot. The opening lines: “I was sitting in a bar one night, talking rather loudly about a person I hated—and a man with a beard sat down beside me, and he said amiably, ‘Why don’t you have him killed.’ ” Before long the bearded man has drawn out the narrator, and his wife/accomplice, “a scrawny, thin-lipped woman with raddled hair and bad teeth,” has aimed a Rolleiflex with a flashgun at him and said “Look at the …” you know what.  And so proceeds a slick bit of blackmail by a “murder counselor.”

 


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By NYCartist, January 4, 2010 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous:
  I found the article in the “archives” and your comment.  I have to ask my husband what a “moon marble” is; but if you should see this, what is it? And I’ll check back.  I remember “purees”...clear ones.  I forgot to say Wonder Woman, but you brought her comics up.  I was a fan.  I have some WW paper napkins someone gave me many years ago, and have saved them.  Alas, I am not a poet.  It is an area where I am a klutz and just learning to read/listen to poetry, with a long way to go.  My spouse and his mom are/were wonderful word people.

  My 7 0 birthday comes at the end of next month and has got me “looking back”...oy.  And I also played street ball with the boys until we all hit puberty…then the genders separated for awhile…
I was a “tom boy” but we didn’t use the word, which is happily gone now.  Good year(s) to you. 

  Lenny Bruce is on records/audiocassettes.  I don’t know the movie you refer to.  He was funny on relationships,too: told women, in one routine, that if they separated from a spouse/boyfriend and got back together, to NEVER admit to having slept with someone else in the interim…he goes thru a whole begging, “I won’t be mad” thing and then, of course,
you can guess the end.  He also says that men always think of sex and used as an example: a guy is in a car accident and is put on a stretcher and makes a pass at the nurse…but the bare outlines are not giving him his due.  I saw him on stage, in the week after JFK was killed.  People thought he would be ugly/gross (I don’t know why) and he said,
“All I’m going to say is that Vaugh Meader is f…ed.”.  That was the guy who imitated JFK on tv and on records (his voice). I told the story on TD before.  I also saw L. Bruce on the street in Greenwich Village, shortly before he returned to CA and died.  He looked miserable and I almost spoke to him, but decided to not intrude on his privacy. He’d become immersed in his legal troubles, obsessed, and why not. It was killing his getting work.

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By Shenonymous, January 4, 2010 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

I think you will laugh.  Marbles have been a major subject of talk between some
friends and myself this holiday.  They sent me a beautiful Moon Marble*, I had
sent them photos of my several collections of marbles.  I only played marbles
in the close vicintiy of our house, but my elementary school had tournaments
every summer and it was a big event.  So there you go, NYCArtist another
confluence of interests.  Now if you were to say you were a poet as well I would
think we were twins separated at birth.

Alfred E. Newman is a hero of mine.  The parody of human foibles was most
instructive on the realities of life for an impressionable young woman such as
myself.  Archie and his friends did not figure into my reading list, but Wonder
Woman and her Amazon sisters did reach the pinnacle of my adoration.  They
showed me that women were smarter and stronger than had hitherto been
taught to my friends and me.  I really do believe that comicbook character
planted the seeds of self-responsibility into my immature brain.

It is even more curious when many years later my college students came up
with Wonder Woman as an icon for me and gave me all kinds of WW
paraphernalia and dolls.  Even coming in during semester break to give them to
me.  I have always been bowled over by that because I never mentioned my
youth interest in the character.

Well I don’t feel like a Wonder Woman but it was gratifying to know my
students liked me and thought so, especially when it came to assigning grades!

How fun to take this nostalgic trip.  I would not have expected that to happen
much on TD.  I’ll check out Lenny Bruce further as it seems like I missed a
terrific mind there.  I saw where Dustin Hoffman did a movie and played the
role of Bruce.  I think I’ll check to see if the local Blockbuster has it.  That would
be probably an intense movie because of all the turmoil associated with Lenny
Bruce.  Maybe not as much though as going on in the world today.

Thank you for the pleasurable discussion. That is quite a different experience
usually here on TD!

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By NYCartist, January 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous,
  I played “marbles” with the boys in Brooklyn, as a kid.  (My spouse bought me some marbles to use in my sculpture as a gift.) And, both my spouse and I (who didn’t know each other until we were near age 40), were both comic book collectors and traders as kids in Brooklyn.  So, you have Zinn and had comic books:
good for you.  I was not “into” the war comics and figure I am a decade or so older than you.  I liked the superheroes of the 1940s into the 1950s, Archie, the supernatural and “Mad” Magazine - the latter throughout high school.

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By NYCartist, January 4, 2010 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous: Bravo for having Zinn’s
“You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train”.  Happy New Year.

Lenny Bruce left some things recorded.  Good luck, and it’s worth the search.  His comments, sections of his “act” on religion were possibly what got him in big trouble and arrested in Chicago.  He has one “piece” about the various leaders of religions having a board meeting discussing sales. 

I like George Carlin.

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By johannes, January 1, 2010 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

Human, good and bad, its like the wether some day it rains an other sunshine, their will be peace and war, I do hope as you do on Happiness, but it will stay an Utopia just afther the horizon, but I have learnd to live my day, and hoping as you do for less wars, and more peace.

I think we in Europe are more sentimentaly as the US citizen in general, its more individualistic and feeling, but maby we are softys, how more human your stand is in society, the harder they hit you, so what to learn to your grandchildren.

I wish you and happy and very peaceful year, Salutaions.

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By Shenonymous, January 1, 2010 at 8:03 am Link to this comment

Good morning - Shall we hope for a prosperous new decade, prosperous not
meaning money, but in quantity of happiness?

Thank you johannes, whilst I was a comic book freak as a child, owning a tower
of them and greedily trading them with cousins with whom I would read for
unending hours, especially as our parents sat in the kitchen playing poker until
the wee hours of the next morning, one could legitimately say I received as
much an education from the pages of these pulp stories as I did in school.  But
I was not familiar with the Pratt library.  I found a Wikipedia entry for him as
read his biography and creations for the world of comic books.  Like Vonnegut,
he was fascinated with facets of war creating either war heroes or stories
concerning various wars. 

Sometimes I wonder if mankind is capable of eliminating war.  There are over 6
billion humans populating the world.  Each one has a mind within the range
from imbecile to genius savant.  It would be interesting to see the bell curve on
that domain. 

What kind of dialogue can humans begin to engage to see if they can evolve
towards less aggressive actions with each other?  Do you think there is any
hope?  Funny I started off this post with the idea of hope and end it that way
too.  Perhaps it would be profitable to begin with a definition of that word,
‘hope.’  Perhaps figuring out what the word ‘happiness’ means ought to come
first?

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By johannes, January 1, 2010 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

A very interesting men and absolute original in his living, thinking and doings.

to uncover him Hugo Pratt, the designer of the beautiful books of Corto Maltese his discovery and explorer of people and continents and their characters and nature.

Growing up in the very cosmopolitan city of Venice, with its medley or mishmash of people and religions in the beginning of 1900, thats already an enormes adventure, but he stays truout his live and work human and even very sentimental, like an old Argentine Tango.

Salutations, and an Happy New Year.

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By johannes, December 31, 2009 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

Its so bloody difficult to put on paper how the
living and daily movement went around in Amsterdam.

maby you think its an utopian way, but every thing wash moving along a fine thin line of human sentiments, not at all sensitive, but with humor and tenderness, sure their wash sometimes competitive warfare, but thats good, keeps things moving, but their wash never a real feeling in the air of anti semitisme, it wash just living to gether with so much pleasure as is possible, and your religion absolute privat, for you alone.


Salutations

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By johannes, December 31, 2009 at 4:05 am Link to this comment

Look here every body,

If you are from old Amsterdam, and growen up with all kind of people, all kind of Jews, speeking in our Dutch- Amsterdam - jiddisch language, you think whe where the hole day looking who wash a Jew and who wash not, we where to bisy to live.

You can not deny facts, you can doubt the given fact’s if its founded, and well-grounded, or just put up for some reasen, or to br misused.

I have know lots of Jews, one wash as importand, that he had to choose ” de Joodse Raad ” the Jewisch people who had to be deported to the camps, he told me what for an impossible situation that he was in, they came to the solution, first the poor, than the middel class, to try and spare the intellect, we never spoke about how much, and he had still pleasure in live, he did know I was no Jew, but he dit know that my famelie had saved Jews, I think thats why he told me so much about the war, well some thinkings and feelings from an old Amsterdammer, in Jiddisch Mockum.

Have a nice evening, salutations Johannes

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By WriterOnTheStorm, December 30, 2009 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment

I propose a supplementary to Godwin’s Law. In honor of the master let’s call it
Kilgore’s Corollary. It states the following: “As an online discussion grows longer,
the probability of a reference to or accusation of anti-semitism approaches 1”.

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By Shenonymous, December 30, 2009 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment

NYCArtist, I am not familiar with Lenny Bruce or his comedy.  I was too much a
provincial ingenue of the public scene in the early 60s and was shocked at the
time of his death not at the drugs (morphine) but by the controversy
surrounding his being blacklisted because of his unpopular obscene language. 
I imagine if he were alive today he would be splitting his sides to hear what is
now become popular obscene language.  Nothing is now barred.  I did not
know his political perspective.  But the shock I felt was also liberating to be
confronted with such rebellion at society.  He seems to be an icon for you.  I
guess George Carlin provided that image for me. 

I fell away from all religion at about the age of 16 also.  I don’t know, some sort
of epiphany occurred where it became clear to me there was no real
justification for all the beliefs the obvious hypocrites were running around
blustering about.  Most of my family were devout Catholics, but the devotion
didn’t seem so sincere once they were out of church!  The televangelists were
the icing on the atheist cake!  Jimmy Swaggert was the most unbelievable
pseudo-religionist I had ever seen.  Then the Jim Jones debacle and self-
massacre really blew the lid off my mind.  After researching and doing some
religion classes, the comparative religion classes showed the interbreeding of
religions and the borrowing of theological ideas and assimilations.  My growing
belief that it was all fiction was confirmed.  Nothing since has justified any
belief in a supernatural being who created this world and interacted in any way
with the population. 

My first experience with Vonnegut was Slaughterhouse 5.  Knocked me away! 
Not an uncommon experience I gather.  But then I had been weaned on Orwell
so I was in a way prepped for Vonnegut.  What I wonder is if these minds had
such an insight into the folly of humankind, why do we not learn from their
most obviously sage words?  I cannot forget Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 and how
books were memorized for the sake of posterity.  That whole Idea was
shocking to me too!

For an idea to ripple through the entire world of people, all 6.7 billion has to
be next to impossible.  I guess it just has to affect a certain percentage before
any change is possible.  The inherent problem as I see it is how the idea is
constructed.  Sort of like an artwork that has to display the principles and
elements of art in such a fantastic way that the results become worthy of the
name art.  Is it possible to craft the world to be beautiful?  There are some who
are trying.  I saw not too long ago a musician who is traveling the world and
making composite videos of musicians all playing the same song then piecing
the performances together to make a coherent and truly beautiful work of art. 
I’m glad you and Sepharad connected.  I have Zinn’s book about not being
neutral.

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By NYCartist, December 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous,
  Good wishes for the New Year to you,too.  Sepharad and I have exchanged messages on various articles on TruthDig.  I tend to feel mellow at the various New Years.  I’m always adding different New Years to my list to be celebrated.  If you, or anyone, can add one or more, please do.

  I only celebrate the various New Years of many cultures, as I learn.  I’m an atheist Jew.  It’s because of having been a child and watching my Bubbie (grandma in Yiddish, E. Europeanized by adding the “ie” sound to Bubba - yes, I love its similarity to the southern word bubba) cry nearly every day,

  that I am very public about being a Jew.  An atheist since age 16, but very much a Jew. Vonnegut had such a wonderful sense of the absurd, as did Lenny Bruce (who was fab on religion…)
Vonnegut was friends with Howard Zinn, who is Jewish and from Brooklyn, who was a bombadier during WWII.  “You Can’t Be Neutral on A Moving Train”, his autobio/memoir is a thing of beauty and handbook for organizing.

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By Shenonymous, December 30, 2009 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

On Truthdig, I don’t know if it could still be done, they used to have a inter-site
feature of emailing if you linked to your member page (by clicking on your name
upper right of the page, then navigating from the columns on the left there is an
email feature, I haven’t used it for a couple of years) you could communicate
directly with other members by typing in their member ID.  Anyway that is the way
it used to be.  Reason why I am even saying all of this is because NYArtist there is
someone you might be interested in communicating with.  Her ID name is
Sepharad and is or was a professional journalist brilliant of mind and greatness of
heart.  I hope you two can meet somehow, electronically or whatever.

Shalom and much happiness and good fortune is hoped for you in the New Year. 
To you and all on these forums.

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By NYCartist, December 30, 2009 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

Johannes,
  Happy New Year.  You are being very polite, which I appreciate.  As an older woman, a Jew, I shall use both terms: the “Holocaust deniers” and the one you prefer, “doubters”. It is done in the interest of the New year of the Common Era (as contrasted with the Jewish New Year or the Chinese New Year) and world peace.

Please google “Constantine’s Sword”, the documentary movie or James Carroll’s book of the same title.  There’s a long history, about 2000 years, behind the “doubters” or the word I used.

  I have a large world view.  It is not surprising for a Jew, from European background,Warsaw and Paris, all city people, to have a view that likes diversity. I grew up among Italian Catholics and Jews in Brooklyn, NYC - not far from the famous Coney Island.  One of my college roommates was from a Norwegian Lutheran family (she was from another part of Brooklyn).
NYC’s greatness is its diversity.  I live in racially and economicly diverse apartment housing and have worked with people of all races and geography background.  I am now a disability rights/human rights activist as well as artist (of over 40 years career).

  My spouse’s brother received a graduate degree from a university in Stockholm and had a Swedish wife. I have a brother married to a Japanese Buddhist.  I enjoyed Europe and visiting Mexico.  Illness cut short my travels.

  Again, good wishes for the New Year. We shall disagree, but politely.

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By NYCartist, December 30, 2009 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

Johannes,
  Happy New Year.  You are being very polite, which I appreciate.  As an older woman, a Jew, I shall use both terms: the “Holocaust deniers” and the one you prefer, “doubters”. It is done in the interest of the New year of the Common Era (as contrasted with the Jewish New Year or the Chinese New Year) and world peace.

Please google “Constantine’s Sword”, the documentary movie or James Carroll’s book of the same title.  There’s a long history, about 2000 years, behind the “doubters” or the word I used.

  I have a large world view.  It is not surprising for a Jew, from European background,Warsaw and Paris, all city people, to have a view that likes diversity.

  My spouse’s brother received a graduate degree from a university in Stockholm and had a Swedish wife. I have a brother married to a Japanese Buddhist.  I enjoyed Europe and visiting Mexico.  Illness cut short my travels.

  Again, good wishes for the New Year. We shall disagree, but politely.

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By Shenonymous, December 29, 2009 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

Keeping the greatest of respect for commenters here, there are all kinds of
deniers.  Those who deny global warming, those who deny the holocaust, those
who deny the harsh realities, those who deny earthquakes!  So it seems to be
very important to narrow down what exactly is being denied.  Vonnegut denied
the existence of God which he wrote into an address for his own funeral.  He
also denied the value of war and he stated it in literary terms in his books.  But
as a POW he lived through the burning of Dresden incarcerated in a slaughter
house which is the scene of one of his most famous books, and so he
understood first hand the horrors of war.

Deniers are different than doubters and skeptics.  Deniers say unequivocally
things did not and cannot happen.  Doubters and skeptics question that things
happened but leave a crack for the possibility that they did.


There are plenty of good reasons for fighting,” I said, “but no good reason ever
to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with
you, too. Where’s evil? It’s that large part of every man that wants to hate
without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side.
Mother Night
Page 43

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By johannes, December 29, 2009 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

TO NYCartist,

I think deniers is not the good word for some people, bether is doubters.

No body, real no body knows the excact facs about how many and where and why.

But I do not want Kurt Vonnegut in this kind of question to name, or appoint.

May he rest in peace.

Salutations

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By NYCartist, December 29, 2009 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

I liked the writing of Vonnegut (and appreciate the quotes in the comments), and the “review”.  I liked that Vonnegut seemed to have a good opinion of women, as he wrote about them/us as characters and his family in his intros.  I also liked Lenny Bruce, who I saw in live performance.  Both writers and I share a certain view of this society, bizarre as it is.  I am fascinated by the deniers who find a way to get into any vaguely related content, in order to minimize the destruction of European Jews.  (See the nonfiction near classic “Constantine’s Sword” by James Carroll who offers some insight via history.)  I wonder if Vonnegut ever wrote of the deniers.

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By johannes, December 29, 2009 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

Not One More,

Thank you for this very nice writing about Vonnegut.

As you know I am an Europeên, lately we are loosing lots of fine people al growen up in Amsterdam, in the flowerpower pot happening era.

Writers, poets, and simpel art of enjoying life, their wash an special name for all this, THE PROVOS, who like Vonnegut bij sarcastic and provocation, to start people to think about the situation in their live.

Yes people like this are missed everyday in this onreal onhuman world.


Salutations

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By Shenonymous, December 29, 2009 at 5:46 am Link to this comment

In comparison with you NOM!, you could say I am a novice and just beginning to
appreciate Kurt Vonnegut’s insights even though I have loved him for decades, in
the way you loved him.  I did enjoy your anecdotal essay and saved it, and printed
it out to stick in my small collection of Vonnegut books and articles.  I would
disagree with you on one thing.  I don’t think he would be disappointed in the
way things turn out, because I think he knew change in the human project is
farcically glacial.  In our buffoonery individually we are too impatient and are
unable to see in an overarching way our behavior and cannot see the world
epochally.  This was something for which I think he had the talent.  It was
generous of you to furnish the Vonnegut website.

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By Not One More!, December 29, 2009 at 12:32 am Link to this comment

Ah, Mr. Vonnegut rises from the ashes, or from the planet Tralfamador, to leave again utterings of words of merit.

I’ve seen Vonnegut a few times and I’ll say this, he was one of the most depressing (but truthful) people that you would share a belly laugh with. He was insightful, witty, cynical, and knew the score and was willing to share it thought his writings to anyone willing to listen.

A remembrance I wrote shortly after he passed called Page 13 Missing. Some Vonnegut fans may enjoy it.

http://www.wordsareimportant.com/kurtvonnegut.htm

I think he would be disappointed if he were still alive, seeing how things have not changed after Bush.

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By DieDaily, December 28, 2009 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment

johannes, yes, you are right, only 136K civilians and POW friendlies were killed in Dresden. Alas. As for the “fictims” (I love it!) of the “holocaust”, we’re talking about somewhere in the order 120K to perhaps 360K at a stretch. Or so found the Canadian Courts in the famous JDL-debunking trial of Ernst Zundel in Toronto in the early 80’s. And according to the extremely brave Jews who have dared to speak out against the bazaarly exaggerated claims of the Holocaust Industrial Complex:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysJFJ4K8oJ8

This kid in particular was not only courageous, but he took us on a walk through Auschwitz and debunked nearly every claim made by the holocaust profiteers, S-C-I-E-N-T-I-F-I-C-A-L-L-Y (oh no, not the S-word, exclaims some JDL troll reading this about now). He and his family paid a terrible and bloody price for his honesty, liberality of mind, openness of expression. Let’s honour him and all the brave Jews who have been willing to break ranks with the JDL thought police and their brutal thugs. He concludes the same things that the Canadian courts and media did, namely that there is no evidence to support the key holocaust claims and much, much, much evidence to unequivocally debunk them. He points out that this is by no means some sort of self-hating holocaust denial, but rather a simple exercise in the application of science and evidence-based deduction, and I agree with him that it has nothing to do with emotion (sorry JDL). This video was a touching, healing, and beautiful coming together of Jew and Gentile in the name of scientific and historical truth and freedom of expression.

I have mixed feelings about bringing this topic up. No doubt a ton of latent programming is going to detonate on me and I’ll be called all sorts of horrible racist things. Alas, such was the fate of everyone who dared the speak about what they have scientifically observed, form Galileo to Einstein to Steven Jones.

Well, bring it on I guess. I’ll try and head off the worst of it by saying that I’ve got nothing but respect for the 90% to 99% of Jews that were never aware of nor complicit in any of this evil, and that I abhor racism and racists and am clearly not one. Not that this will help, probably. And above all, I guess I should get it out there at the outset that I seek nothing more than to help them free themselves from the Zionist yoke that will lead to another pogrom against them if it isn’t exposed, aired out, and dismantled in time to avert it. It’s this, or else let the radical, reactionary right-wing haters dominate the discussion—and that would be criminally stupid.

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By johannes, December 28, 2009 at 3:58 am Link to this comment

Dresden whas the Florence of the north, it whas burned and exploded with about 1000 degrè heat, afther the war it where about 136 000 citizen burnd, but now to make every thing looking bether it are less than 30 000 citizen, its the same with the Jewisch Holocaust fictims, the number is going down, who knows the real numbers please.

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By DieDaily, December 28, 2009 at 3:02 am Link to this comment

Ah, Dresden, one of our better genocides…well to use the technical term “holocaust” since that word pertains directly and exclusively to burning people. How many did we do that night, 400K civilians? Something like that. Sure Nagasaki and Hiroshima were pretty cool, and we did kill and poison tens of millions in Vietnam, which was awesome in it’s way. But Dresden was special. It took a lot of ordinance and personnel to get the air to burn in Dresden, what with the inferior technology of the day. Of course times are better for us now, we can kill that many in a minute, remotely. God I love America and Britain. We’re so just and holy and good. Not like those nasty terrible Germans were.

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By Shenonymous, December 27, 2009 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to
be.
Introduction
Mother Night

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By johannes, December 27, 2009 at 3:09 am Link to this comment

When and where, books like this keep me going, to what I do not no.

He could have been an Europeên humanist, I wish I could speak with him in person, just 5 minutes.

A from origine Dutch, American writer, other stile but also sober with his words, not with his feelings.

Feike Feikema, best books about your country.


Salutations Johannes

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By Jane Ciabattari, December 26, 2009 at 8:06 am Link to this comment
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Yes, this new collection is such a find. The illustrations, too. His work will be reissued soon with his own drawings on covers.

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By Shenonymous, December 25, 2009 at 11:01 pm Link to this comment

Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to
Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules — and still there are some misfits who insist
that there is no such thing as progress.

Also from The Sirens of Titan
Dedication page

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By iremembervonnegut, December 25, 2009 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Not least, he tried to alert us to PPs, Psychopathic Personalities.  He was a great humanitarian and teacher.  We need more like him.

http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/kurt_vonnegut_vs_the/

He recommended “Mask of Sanity” to all, http://www.cassiopaea.org/cass/sanity_1.PdF (complete book)

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By M Henri Day, December 25, 2009 at 10:12 am Link to this comment

A great writer - once one was able to rid oneself of the prejudices of the 19th century Bildungsroman and a great humanitarian - he is sorely missed, not least by me….

Henri

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By Pilgrim, December 25, 2009 at 9:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can hardly wait to read this!  Thank you for bringing it to my attention.  I’ve been busy busy busy and it slipped right past me.  Who else could actually make me consider the possiblity that when I get to the other side, it could turn out to be a turkey farm??

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By Simon, December 25, 2009 at 7:07 am Link to this comment
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He was even better in person.

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By Shenonymous, December 25, 2009 at 5:51 am Link to this comment

Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself.
    But mankind wasn’t always so lucky.  Less than a century ago men and women
did not have easy access to the puzzle boxes within them.
    They could not name even one of the fifty-three portals to the soul.

The Sirens of Titan
Chapter 1, Page 1

And so it goes…

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By montanawildhack, December 25, 2009 at 4:10 am Link to this comment

The gods love Kurt Vonnegut and so do I..

          the Money Tree

  Its leaves were 20 dollar bills
  Its fruit was diamonds
  Its flowers were government bonds
  It attracted human beings who killed each
  other around its roots which made
  for very good fertilizer…....
     
          So it goes….....

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