Friday, June 26, 2015

My Friend Kurt Vonnegut (who I never met)

Kurt would come out of his spider hole occasionally to deliver some in-your-face philosophy disguised as coming from one of the cabbage and noodles genres. He took a maitre d's stiff stance when confronted by trouble makers, and I think he arranged his imaginary pedestal so as to rise up to where he could see himself above them. Kurt strove hard (but not tirelessly) to validate the Vonnegut brand, a substantial rubber stamp name stirred into the German white sauce of Indianapolis, Indiana. As a World War Two participant, Kurt was a recon scout who endured part of the war as a POW in Germany. As one to march against others and against causes in civilian life, Kurt Vonnegut was a Lieutenant. He led by enticing readers to do as he did, to rebel behind a curtain of his words. I've wished that I could meet the General who commanded Lieutenant Vonnegut to understand the genesis of Kurt's motivation. As an inventor, Kurt was not an Edison, but more of a salad chopper salesman. I'd believe it if you told me he wore an apron with “Slap This” embroidered on the front. I have been convinced for a long time that Kurt's inventive vein was instinctive, a DNA node created by parents and other ancestors who thought about family and other things, both good and necessary. I've wondered if Kurt might have earned a payday if he had tried direct sales of his work without the publishing industry's publicity machine. He tried to convince us that he despised the machinery of powerful enterprises, but his success was anchored beneath fathoms of infra-business. I worry that this usury may have crossed his mind and that he paid an extortioner's fee to stifle his own conscience. But, ordinarily, he was not a stifler. There are shots and flares that marked the location of Kurt Vonnegut's vocational lifeboat. He seemed to be both a rescuer and a victim. With little words, Kurt's non-fiction drew me into a close brotherhood, and I agreed with the selection of garden vegetables he used to bulk his sentimental simplicity. With bolder talk, Kurt left bigger bread croutons that floated on top of his word stew, garlic with onion. Hard to chew. Not easy to swallow, but nourishing for metabolisms able to handle the fiber.

11 comments:

Ernest Hemmingword said...

What Vonnegut did you read?

Ed Slater said...

"Letters" with introduction by Dan Wakefield

Bert O. Lucci said...

If you want some notoriety, write something so flagrantly prurient that it gets banned by lots of high schools. Instant fame. Freedom of speech is a good and profitable thing, Vonnegut bragged.

Voltaire's ghost said...

If Kurt had been my friend, I'd have encouraged him to be more candide. Haha.

Robt. Oppenheimer said...

This Vonnegut writes explosive stuff. I know.

Dean Kauffman said...

I must admit that I don't fully grasp the full meaning of your exposition Ed. Kurt is also my would be friend. I have read just about everything of his published and really enjoyed reading his Letters edited by his Indianapolis friend Dan Wakefield. I recently contributed to a Kickstart campaign to help finish a Vonnegut Documentary based on many hours of interviews with him over many years. From the little clips they have shared I believe it will be quite good. I first read one of his stories, The Report on the Barnhouse Effect, in a bound copy of Colliers Magazine in the Goshen Indiana Public Library in 1959 or 1960 but didn't know who he was and only made the connection many years after reading his books.

Ed Slater said...

It's possible you and I are friends of different sides of Vonnegut. I like the guy who was able to plainly express his feelings using written words both real and fictional, clearly chosen speech both literal and figurative, body language, innuendo, and to weave science fiction into his explanations. As far as his point of view, I think he was unable to imagine the rational side of offense as a humane defense.

Party Mouth said...

The modern Kurt Vonnegut is John Stewart

Mont said...

Eyh! A defender
Velvet rose and lavender splendor
Bluster with verbs
Manufactured in 'burbs
A sanctified peoples' pretender

Stewart and Vonnegut

Shelly said...

I like the poetry. It seems to fit both the men.

Lone Drinker said...

I'm gonna take a shower ASAP. My oxygen tubing got wound around my feeding tube when I read that part about velvet splendor and my monitor went off. Vonnegut makes me want to get chummy with one of the nurses.