‘So it goes’

This is how Kurt Vonnegut, who passed away earlier this week in Manhattan at the age of 84, described dying in his anti- war classic Slaughterhouse Five.

What the Englishman said about survival was this: “if you stop taking pride in your appearance, you will very soon die.” He said that he had seen several men die in the following way: “They ceased to stand up straight, then ceased to shave or wash, then ceased to get out of bed, then ceased to talk, then died. There is this much to be said for it: it is evidently a very easy and painless way to die.” So it goes.

Going by this, Kurt is very much alive. He never ceased to talk and apply his acerbic wit to contemporary events.

In These Times, where he was a senior editor, states:

With the April 11 death of Senior Editor Kurt Vonnegut, In These Times lost a dear friend. And the world lost a man who kept his moral compass always pointed in the right—excuse me, left—direction.

Kurt never ceased to be outraged by man’s inhumanity to man. And while he could always find a corner of joy in the world—the fate of which he often despaired—he was ever ready with a droll, one-line quip that would eviscerate the pretensions of the powerful.

The Nation states, and links to two of his articles:

But like Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln, even when he’s funny, he’s depressed. His has always been a weird jujitsu that throws us for a brilliant loop.

The Guardian has an obituary by Phil Baker:

Vonnegut’s father once complained that there were no bad guys in his books, and Vonnegut attributed his largely blame-free world view to having studied 1940s anthropology, with its total relativism and deliberate lack of value judgments, as well as its sense of human cultures and religions as arbitrary artifacts and “Rube Goldberg inventions”. He received a less friendly complaint while speaking at the Library of Congress in the early 1970s, when a man stood up during his speech and asked “What right have you, as a leader of America’s young people, to make those people so cynical and pessimistic?” Vonnegut had no ready reply, so left the stage. He later commented: “The beliefs I have to defend are so soft and complicated, actually, and, when vivisected, turn into bowls of undifferentiated mush. I am a pacifist, I am an anarchist, I am a planetary citizen, and so on.”

As he remarked every time a character in Slaughterhouse Five died: So be it.

Visit his expansive website, from where the image is taken.

More at NPR, including a tribute by Peter Segal.

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5 thoughts on “‘So it goes’

  1. bajinder

    “if you stop taking pride in your appearance, you will very soon die.”
    :Posted on Vaisakhi, what significance does it hold for the Khalsa?

  2. If you ask the Englishman, a lot. Stephen Cohen has pointed in an essay in Eric Hobsbawm’s The Invention of Tradition, how it was the British who introduced the standard turban and some other aspects of the Sikh appearance.

  3. Kurt Vonnegut was great writer!! He was always referred to as a humorist, infact- he was one of the rarest breed – one who always spoke about the reality.

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