Notas sobre: “A Man Without a Country” por Kurt Vonnegut

Por si os apetece echare un ojo rápido… Compradlo, no os arrepentiréis.

A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

Do you realize that all great literature—Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, A Farewell to Arms, The Scarlet Letter, The Red Badge of Courage, The Iliad and The Odyssey, Crime and Punishment, The Bible, and “The Charge of the Light Brigade”—are all about what a bummer it is to be a human being? (Isn’t it such a relief to have somebody say that?)Read more at location 120

 

 

I am one of America’s Great Lakes people, her freshwater people, not an oceanic but a continental people. Whenever I swim in an ocean, I feel as though I am swimming in chicken soup.Read more at location 133

Karl Marx’s statement that “religion is the opium of the people.” Marx said that back in 1844, when opium and opium derivatives were the only effective painkillers anyone could take. Marx himself had taken them. He was grateful for the temporary relief they had given him. He was simply noticing, and surely not condemning, the fact that religion could also be comforting to those in economic or social distress. It was a casual truism, not a dictum.Read more at location 149

 

I did get to know one socialist of their generation—Powers Hapgood of Indianapolis. He was a typical Hoosier idealist. Socialism is idealistic. Hapgood, like Debs, was a middle-class person who thought there could be more economic justice in this country. He wanted a better country, that’s all. After graduating from Harvard, he went to work as a coal miner, urging his working-class brothers to organize in order to get better pay and safer working conditions. He also led protesters at the execution of the anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in Massachusetts in 1927. Hapgood’s family owned a successful cannery in Indianapolis, and when Powers Hapgood inherited it, he turned it over to the employees, who ruined it. We met in Indianapolis after the end of the Second World War. He had become an official in the CIO. There had been some sort of dust-up on a picket line, and he was testifying about it in court, and the judge stops everything and asks him, “Mr. Hapgood, here you are, you’re a graduate of Harvard. Why would anyone with your advantages choose to live as you have?” Hapgood answered the judge: “Why, because of the Sermon on the Mount, sir.” And again: Hooray for our team.Read more at location 159

 

 

I am from a family of artists. Here I am, making a living in the arts. It has not been a rebellion. It’s as though I had taken over the family Esso station.Read more at location 171

 

 

I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.Read more at location 188

 

First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.Read more at location 223

 

 

The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.Read more at location 229

 

Now let me give you a marketing tip. The people who can afford to buy books and magazines and go to the movies don’t like to hear about people who are poor or sick, so start your story up here [indicates top of the G-I axis]. You will see this story over and over again. People love it and it is not copyrighted. The story is “Man in Hole,” but the story needn’t be about a man or a hole. It’s: Somebody gets into trouble, gets out of it again [draws line A]. It is not accidental that the line ends up higher than where it began. This is encouraging to readers.Read more at location 239

Another is called “Boy Meets Girl,” but this needn’t be about a boy meeting a girl [begins drawing line B]. It’s: Somebody, an ordinary person, on a day like any other day, comes across something perfectly wonderful: “Oh boy, this is my lucky day!” … [drawing line downward]. “Shit!” … [drawing line back up again]. And gets back up again.Read more at location 244

 

One of the most popular stories ever told starts down here [begins line C below B-E axis]. Who is this person who’s despondent? She’s a girl of about fifteen or sixteen whose mother has died, so why wouldn’t she be low? And her father got married almost immediately to a terrible battle-axe with two mean daughters. You’ve heard it? There’s to be a party at the palace. She has to help her two stepsisters and her dreadful stepmother get ready to go, but she herself has to stay home. Is she even sadder now? No, she’s already a broken-hearted little girl. The death of her mother is enough. Things can’t get any worse than that. So okay, they all leave for the party. Her fairy godmother shows up [draws incremental rise], gives her pantyhose, mascara, and a means of transportation to get to the party. And when she shows up she’s the belle of the ball [draws line upward]. She is so heavily made up that her relatives don’t even recognize her. Then the clock strikes twelve, as promised, and it’s all taken away again [draws line downward]. It doesn’t take long for a clock to strike twelve times, so she drops down. Does she drop down to the same level? Hell, no. No matter what happens after that she’ll remember when the prince was in love with her and she was the belle of the ball. So she poops along, at her considerably improved level, no matter what, and the shoe fits, and she becomes off-scale happy [draws line upward and then infinity symbol].Read more at location 256

 

I have just demonstrated to you that Shakespeare was as poor a storyteller as any Arapaho. But there’s a reason we recognize Hamlet as a masterpiece: it’s that Shakespeare told us the truth, and people so rarely tell us the truth in this rise and fall here [indicates blackboard]. The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is. And if I die—God forbid—I would like to go to heaven to ask somebody in charge up there, “Hey, what was the good news and what was the bad news?”Read more at location 301

 

 

Our government’s got a war on drugs. That’s certainly a lot better than no drugs at all.Read more at location 316

 

 

I am, of course, notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.Read more at location 328

Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn’t the TV news is it? Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.Read more at location 335

Don’t spoil the party, but here’s the truth: We have squandered our planet’s resources, including air and water, as though there were no tomorrow, so now there isn’t going to be one.Read more at location 355

most of us, if we get married nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it’s a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it’s a man. When a couple has an argument nowadays, they may think it’s about money or power or sex or how to raise the kids or whatever. What they’re really saying to each other, though without realizing it, is this: “You are not enough people!” A husband, a wife and some kids is not a family. It’s a terribly vulnerable survival unit.Read more at location 367

 

Do you know what a Luddite is? A person who hates newfangled contraptions. Ned Ludd was a textile worker in England at around the start of the nineteenth century who busted up a lot of new contraptions—mechanical looms that were going to put him out of work, that were going to make it impossible for him with his particular skills to feed, clothe, and shelter his family. In 1813 the British government executed by hanging seventeen men for “machine breaking,” as it was called, a capital crime.Read more at location 407

 

Woodstock, New York, which you know was where the famous sex and drugs event in the ’60s got its name from (it actually took place in the nearby town of Bethel and anybody who says they remember being there wasn’t there.)Read more at location 418

Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power.Read more at location 512

Abraham Lincoln said this about the silenced killing grounds at Gettysburg: We cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.Read more at location 520

 

We humanists try to behave as decently, as fairly, and as honorably as we can without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. My brother and sister didn’t think there was one, my parents and grandparents didn’t think there was one. It was enough that they were alive. We humanists serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any real familiarity, which is our community.Read more at location 562

Human beings have had to guess about almost everything for the past million years or so. The leading characters in our history books have been our most enthralling, and sometimes our most terrifying, guessers. May I name two of them? Aristotle and Hitler. One good guesser and one bad one. And the masses of humanity through the ages, feeling inadequately educated just like we do now, and rightly so, have had little choice but to believe this guesser or that one.Read more at location 575

 

We must acknowledge that persuasive guessers, even Ivan the Terrible, now a hero in the Soviet Union, have sometimes given us the courage to endure extraordinary ordeals which we had no way of understanding. Crop failures, plagues, eruptions of volcanoes, babies being born dead—the guessers often gave us the illusion that bad luck and good luck were understandable and could somehow be dealt with intelligently and effectively. Without that illusion, we all might have surrendered long ago.Read more at location 582

 

 

Comentarios

tu texto...

Deja un comentario