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Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.

Cat's Cradle

Title: Cat's Cradle.
Author: Kurt Vonnegut.
Genre: Literature, fiction, satire, humour, science fiction, post-apocalyptic.
Country: U.S.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1963
Summary: An apocalyptic tale of this planet’s ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist, a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer, and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny. Vonnegut was awarded a Masters in Anthropology from the University of Chicago for the novel.

My rating: 9.5/10


♥ Oh, a sleeping drunkard
Up in Central Park,
And the lion-hunter,
In the jungle dark,
And a Chinese dentist
And a British queen -
All fit together
In the same machine.
Nice, nice, very nice;
Nice, nice, very nice;
Nice, nice, very nice -
So many different people
In the same device.

♥ Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, "Why, why, why?"
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.

♥ So I said goodbye to the government,
And I gave my reason:
That a really good religion
Is a form of treason.

♥ A lover's a liar,
To himself he lies.
The truthful are loveless,
Like oysters their eyes!

♥ Someday, someday, this crazy world will have to end,
And our God will take things back that He to us did lend.
And if, on that sad day, you want to scold our God,
Why go right ahead ans scold Him. He'll just smile and nod.

♥ "Gott mate mutt," Crooned Dr. von Koenigswald.

"Dyot meet mat," echoed "Papa" Monzano.

"God made mud," was what they'd said, each in his own dialect. I will here abandon the dialects of the litany.

"God got lonesome," said Von Koenigswald.

"God got lonesome."

"So God said to some of the mud, 'Sit up!'"

"So God said to some of the mud, 'Sit up'"

"'See all I've made,' said God, 'the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars.'"

"'See all I've made,' said God, 'the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars.'"

"And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around."

"And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around."

"Lucky me, lucky mud."

"Lucky me, lucky mud." Tears were streaming down "Papa's" cheeks.

"I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done."

"I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done."

"Nice going, God!"

"Nice going, God!" "Papa" said it with all his heart.

"Nobody but You could have done it, God! I certainly couldn't have."

"Nobody but You could have done it, God! I certainly couldn't have."

"I feel very unimportant compared to You."

"I feel very unimportant compared to You."

"The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn't even get to sit up and look around."

"The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn't even get to sit up and look around."

"I got so much, and most mud got so little."

"I got so much, and most mud got so little."

"Deng you vore da on-oh!" cried Von Koenigswald.

"Tz-yenk voo vore lo yon-yo! wheezed "Papa".

What they had said was, "Thank you for the honor!"

"Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep."

"Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep."

"What memories for mud to have!"

"What memories for mud to have!"

"What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!"

"What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!"

"I loved everything I saw!"

"I loved everything I saw!"

"Good night."

"Good night."

"I will go to heaven now."

"I will go to heaven now."

"I can hardly wait..."

"I can hardly wait..."

"To find out for certain what my wampeter was..."

"To find out for certain what my wampeter was..."

"And who was in my karass..."

"And who was in my karass..."

"And all the good things our karass did for you."

"And all the good things our karass did for you."

"Amen."

"Amen."

♥ "And you think things will be better in San Lorenzo?"

"I know damn well they will be. The people down there are poor enough and scared enough and ignorant enough to have some common sense!"

♥ "Are you an aspirin salesman?"

"No."

"Too bad. Father's low on aspirin. How about miracle drugs? Father enjoys pulling off a miracle now and then."

"I'm not a drug salesman. I'm a writer."

"What makes you think a writer isn't a drug salesman?"

♥ "One time," said Castle, "when I was about fifteen, there was a mutiny near here on a Greek ship bound from Hong Kong to Havana with a load of wicker furniture. The mutineers got control of the ship, didn't know how to run her, and smashed her up on the rocks near "Papa" Monzano's castle. Everybody drowned but the rats. The rats and the wicker furniture came ashore."

That seemed to be the end of the story, but I couldn't be sure. "So?"

"So some people got free furniture, and some people got bubonic plague."

♥ "I see." I knew I wasn't going to have an easy time writing a popular article about him. I was going to have to concentrate on his many saintly deeds and ignore entirely the satanic things he thought and said.

♥ He faced the sheet of water that curtained that cave. "Maturity, the way I understand it," he told me, "is knowing that your limitations are."

He wasn't far from Bokonon in defining maturity. "Maturity," Bokonon tells us, "is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything."

♥ "What hope can there be for mankind," I thought, "when these are such men as Felix Hoenikker to give such playthings as ice-nine to such short-sighted children as almost all men and women are?"

And I remembered The Fourteenth Book of Bokonon, which I had read in its entirety the night before. The Fourteenth Book is entitled, "What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?"

It doesn't take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period.

This is it:

"Nothing."

♥ "I was fired for pessimism. Communism had nothing to do with it."

"I got him fired," said his wife. "The only piece of real evidence produced against him was a letter I wrote to the New York Times from Pakistan."

"What did it say?"

"It said lots of things," she said, "because I was very upset about how Americans couldn't imagine what it was like to be something else, to be something else and proud of it."

"I see."

"But there was one sentence they kept coming back to again and again in the loyalty hearing," sighed Minton. "'Americans,'" he said, quoting his wife's letter to the Times, "'are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be. It must have something to do with the vanished frontier.'"

..."What was so awful about the letter?" I asked.

"The highest possible form of treason," said Minton, "is to say that Americans aren't loved wherever they go, whatever they do. Claire tried to make the point that American foreign policy should recognize hate rather than imagine love."

"I guess Americans are hated a lot of places."

"People are hated a lot of places. Claire pointed out in her letter that Americans, in being hated, were simply paying the normal penalty for being people, and that they were foolish to think they should somehow be exempted from that penalty. But the loyalty board didn't pay any attention to that. All they knew was that Claire and I both felt that Americans were unloved."

♥ "My soul insists that I mourn not a man but a child.

"I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame, they do die like men, thus making possible the manly jubilation of patriotic holidays.

"But they are murdered children just the same.

"And I propose to you that if we are to pay our sincere respects to the hundred lost children of San Lorenzo, that we might best spend the day despising what killed them; which is to say, the stupidity and viciousness of all mankind.

"Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.

"I do not mean to be ungrateful for the fine, martial show we are about to see - and a thrilling show it really will be..."

He looked each of us in the eye, and then he commented very softly, throwing it away, "And hooray say I for thrilling shows."

♥ I walked away from Frank, just as The Books of Bokonon advised me to do. "Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before," Bokonon tells us. "He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way."

♥ I do not intend that this book to be a tract on behalf of Bokononism. I should like to offer a Bokononist warning about it, however. The first sentence in the Books of Bokonon is this:

"All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

My Bokononist warning is this:

Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either.

So be it.

♥ "..There are lots of other good anecdotes about the bomb and Father, from other days. For instance, do you know the story about Father on the day they first tested a bomb out at Alamogordo? After the thing went off, after it was a sure thing that America could wipe out a city with just one bomb, a scientist turned to Father and said, 'Science has now known sin.' And do you know what Father said? He said, 'What is sin?'

♥ The painting on which Newt had been working was set on an easel next to the aluminum railing. The painting was frames in a misty view of the sky, sea, and valley.

Newt's painting was small and black and warty.

It consisted of scratches made in a black, gummy impasto. The scratches formed a sort of spider's web, and I wondered if they might not the sticky nets of human futility hung up on a moonless night to dry.

♥ If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who.

♥ "Not me." Miss Pefko was not used to chatting with someone as important as Dr. Breed and she was embarrassed. Her gait was affected, becoming stiff and childlike. Her smile was glassy, and she was ransacking her mind for something to say, finding nothing in it but used Kleenex and costume jewelry.

♥ A winded, defeated-looking fat woman in filthy coveralls trudged beside us, hearing what Miss Pefko said. She turned to examine Dr. Breed, looking at him with helpless reproach. She hated people who thought too much. At that moment, she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.

The fat woman's expression implied that she would go crazy on the spot if anybody did any more thinking.

♥ "Man told me," He said, "that these here elevators was Mayan architecture. I never knew that till today. And I say to him, 'What's that make me - mayonnaise?' Yes, yes! And while he was thinking that over, I hit him with a question that straightened him up and made him think twice as hard! Yes, yes!"

"Could we please go down, Mr. Knowles?" begged Miss Faust.

"I said to him," said Knowles, "'This here's a re-search laboratory. Re-search means look again, don't it? Means they're looking for something they found once and it got away somehow, and now they got to re-search for it? How come they build a building like this, with mayonnaise elevators and all, and fill it with all these crazy people? What is it they're trying to find again? Who lost what? Yes, ye

♥ "I just can't help thinking what a real shaking up it would give people if, all of a sudden, there were no new books, new plays, new histories, new poems..."

"And how proud would you be when people started dying like flies?" I demanded.

"They'd die more like mad dogs, I think - snarling and snapping at each other and biting their own tails."

I turned to Castle the elder. "Sir, how does a man die when he's deprived of the consolations of literature?"

"In one of two ways," he said, "petrescence of the heart or atrophy of the nervous system."

"Neither one very pleasant, I expect," I suggested.

"No," said Castle the elder. "For the love of God, both of you, please keep writing!"
Tags: 1960s - fiction, 1st-person narrative, 20th century - fiction, american - fiction, apocalyptic, eschatology (fiction), fiction, humour (fiction), kurt vonnegut, literature, my favourite books, poetry in quote, post-apocalyptic, satire, science fiction
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