23 August 2015

Deadeye Dick & Bluebeard

I did manage to finish the other two Vonnegut novels.

If Hocus Pocus has the most clever ending, Deadeye Dick has the most clever beginning. A very fair warning that I certainly never got:
To the as-yet-unborn, to all innocent wisps of undifferentiated nothingness: Watch out for life. 
I suppose the consolation for death is that despite how little control you may have over dying, it certainly is more than what you had for your birth. 

The next quotation relates to what I've been thinking inertia in the non-physics sense. I was thinking of how much luck is involved in the starting of relationships, all it takes is some off-hand comment from a friend and the rest I attribute to confirmation bias, aka inertia.
I wonder if it mattered much that it was I who. Was in the cage in the basement of the old courthouse so long ago. A curiously carved bone or stick, or a dried mud doll with straw hair would have served as well as I did, there on the bench, as long as the community believed, as Midland City believed of me, that it was a package of evil magic.
Everybody could feel safe for a while. Bad luck was caged. There was bad luck, cringing on the bench in there.
See for yourself.
 The final quotation ties nicely into Bluebeard:
I identified a basic mistake my parents had about about life: They thought that it would be very wrong if anybody ever laughed at them. 
Joker's famous quotation "why so serious?" is a good summary of the message I got from Bluebeard. Vonnegut says the following in the author's notes:
May I say, too, that much of what I put in this book was inspired by the protesters prices paid for works of art during the past century. Tremendous concentrations of paper wealth have made it possible for a few persons or institutions to endow certain sorts of human playfulness with inappropriate and hence distressing seriousness. I think not only of the mud pies of art, but of children's games as well - running, jumping, catching, throwing.
Or dancing.
Or singing songs.

Other truths:
She had figured out that the most pervasive American disease was loneliness, and that even people at the top often suffered from it, and that they could be surprisingly responsive to attractive strangers who were friendly.

"That's the secret of how to enjoy writing and how to make yourself meet high standards," said Mrs. Berman. "You don't write for the whole world, and you don't write for ten people, or two. You wrote for just one person."

A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communicates put him or her into daily competition with nothing but worlds champions.

But he lacked the guts or the wisdom, or maybe just the talent, to indicate somehow that time was liquid, that one moment was no more important than any other, and that all moments quickly run away.

I had made her so unhappy that she had developed a sense of humour.
and the best imagery I've read yet:
Back to the past I go again, with the present nipping at my ankles like a rabid fox terrier

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