Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, RIP

So it goes.

This is what he gave me:

To Mr. Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the madness and apparent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness. The title character in his 1965 novel, "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater," summed up his philosophy:

"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.' "

Kindness, in the deep sense, in the sense of truly seeing another human being or an animal as a sentient suffering and rejoicing entity, that is the kind of kindness Vonnegut wrote about. His kindness was not the politeness that we call manners or a prescription not to criticize or not to fight against injustice. It was something more or something different: a spiritual attitude. How odd that it is from a humanist we got this prescription.