Today marks the one-year anniversary of the death of a favorite writer of mine, Kurt Vonnegut. Best known for his books Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, Cat’s Cradle, and many, many more, Vonnegut had a way of creating alternate realities, while at the same time saying something important about our own.
Here are ten of my favorite quotes from Vonnegut, some applicable to travel and some just applicable to life.
10. “We are here on Earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.”
9. [In a Baptismal speech, from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater]: “Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies– God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
8. “History is merely a list of surprises… It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again. Write that down.”
7. “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”
6. [When Vonnegut tells his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope] “Oh, she says well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.”
5. “Do you think Arabs are dumb? They gave us our numbers. Try doing long division with Roman numerals.”
4. “The highest treason in the USA is to say Americans are not loved, no matter where they are, no matter what they are doing there.”
3. [After Kilgore Trout tracks mud onto a nice carpet in Breakfast of Champions]: “It was Trout’s fantasy that somebody would be outraged by the footprints. This would give him the opportunity to reply grandly, “What is it that offends you so? I am simply using man’s first printing press. You are reading a bold and universal headline which says ,’I am here, I am here, I am here.'”
2. Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterwards.”
1. “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”