Lileks on Vonnegut
Back in my younger days there were some (not myself) that near-adored Kurt Vonnegut’s works. I didn’t, mostly because I probably was in the wrong demographic. I found his books midly interesting, midly amusing (for instance, his *), nothing more. Now he’s joined the crowd of self-deluded old codgers that think terrorists are “sweet and honourable”.
Lileks says, At Least Ezra Pound was Nuts
If these comments are reported accurately – if they didn’t remove the part where he says “nevertheless, they are horrid madmen who willingly slaughter children in the service of a depraved concept of God and human society” – then this ought to be a deal-breaker. This ought to be the point where the man is shunned, not feted, and held to account in every subsequent mention of his name and works. As in “Vonnegut, whose early works exposed the madness and nihilism of war, would later support the ‘sweet and honourable’ nature of men who set off nailbombs in public squares in the name of the organization that killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11.” But this will be regarded as nothing more than a beloved old uncle letting off a fart at a wedding and grinning widely when people turn around. Which is more likely: a book review that says Vonnegut’s criticisms of the Bush Regime must be considered in light of the author’s support of suicide bombers, or a review that says Vonnegut has made statements lauding bombers, BUT he brings up troubling issues / confronts the hypocrisy inherent in Washington / speaks truth to power / speaks Hindu to houseplants / etc.
I’m guessing you’ll see the latter more than the former. Not because the book reviewer necessarily agreest. But there is nothing to be gained from pointing out that Vonnegut is an addled old fool whose brain has rusted in the antiestablishment default position for so long he cannot distinguish between suicide bombers and people who stage a sit-in at a Woolworth’s counter. There is nothing to be gained from attacking the messenger when his other message is so delicious. Of course, all it would take is a few book editors in a few magazines to say “to hell with the old coot; I have a cousin serving in Iraq, and I’ll be goddamned if I give this hairy old fool a pass because he wrote a book my brother loved in college. What’s the matter with us? Do we excuse everything because it kicks Bush in the nuts? If Madonna puts on a suicide belt in her next video and sashays into St. Peters to protest, oh, I don’t know, popery, do we give her a f*$*#ing golf clap for pushing the envelope again?”
Read the rest: Lileks even throws in a quote from Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride.
(If you’re waiting for a link to Vonnegut’s books, fugeddaboutid).