1. Aleph Arcane
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    Aleph Arcane Member

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    A Man Without A Country

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Aleph Arcane, Oct 30, 2007.

    Now that Kurt Vonnegut is dead, I feel a slight despair within me. He said he wasn't going to write again, then, before his death, he wrote, "A Man Without A Country". It was a memmoir of sorts, mostly describing and becoming more intimate with Kurt as a person. I read it in a few hours, maybe one, last year and I don't believe I'll ever forget about it. I was entranced by how he hysterically represented the world and thrashed it's immoralities with the grace that could be compared to Mark Twain's more political short stories. However, then he went to say, just like Einstien and countless other greats, that he had given up on the world. The second I read the line of that surprising confession, I became vehement with the question, "why?" Why give up on the world? To me, an affcianado of philosophy, this was expected of Poe or Hemmingway, but why people like Vonnegut, who was always so full of life.

    I realized, being that this dilemma drove me insane, that perhaps, he meant something else. When I set the book down I was eager to figure out why, in his last book, he'd say that. Why, knowing his death was near and he'd never publish again, did he feel the need to give up. He obviously put a lot of effort into explaining why so many of the things going on needed change, he gave you strength throughout the book, he gave a will to fight, and then he left it all hanging in the darkness, telling us it was worthless and a lost cause. I couldn't believe it, and I think that was the secret; to make us stronger, to make us say no, to make us fight for what we believe in and never give up. He wanted us to carry on what so many have failed. Is this something used with a lot of writers, was it even the purpose of Vonnegut, I don't know, but everytime I think of that book, it brings a bit of brightness in my life. So, if you ever get the chanc to read it, read it. I'd like to know what someone else thinks.
     
  2. Funny Bunny
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    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

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    I kind of understand him in a sense. He was in Dresden when the fire-bombings happened. He was Billy Pilgrim. That was autobiographical. He was bombed by his own people, and he really became a "shaman" (idiot phrase, I know). Slaughter house 5 actually happened. (except for the tralfamadorians)

    That is where his writing life started as well. He was not always filled with life-- I must disagree with you. His works, Slapstick, Breakfast of the Champions, Mother Night and etcetera were about people sucking the blood out of others. None of it is funny and it is all pretty tough to read. I spent my teens and twenties reading Kurt Vonnegut when he was still writing and he was always a very interesting "downer," not "up" in the least. He and Hunter S. Thompson and other "Beats" (usually WW2 vets) were on the same wavelength.

    I actually don't know why a person needs to be morbid to say they have given up on the world. I think most people do in their 3rd quarter or 4th.

    I personally don't think he was trying to act as an inspirational writer to make anyone "be stronger" or what-ever. I don't consciously think a writer goes out to create a book that will make someone feel better about themselves. Philosophy is not always "feel-good." I mean most people feel better about themselves when they watch someone else used as a punching bag. Better him than me, eh? I mean, in order to win the battle, you had to burn alive a hundred thousand civilians? And that makes someone feel good? I can see why Vonnegut might be bitter.
     
  3. Aleph Arcane
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    Aleph Arcane Member

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    I'm sorry, but you've taken much of what I've said out of view, perhaps my explanation wasn't perfectly adequate.

    I understand that not all philosophy is optimistic. Philosophy is my favorite form of literature, and there are endless possibilities within it. I understand that he was in Dresden, and I've read more than my fair share of works by him, as well as many of his short stories. He's a man that tackles the immoralities and faults of man, but still contains a lively attitude while doing so. He is after all, a man of satire and humor, almost above all else. If you think he didn't have a serious optimistic and hysterical quality to him, then you should read with more observation. He's an author known for being that way. One of the first of his kind. Most people were either always stern about the bad or good qualities of man, as he liked to poke fun at the idea; a very wonderful part of post-modernism. I never said you had to be morbid to give up on life, nor do most writers pro and morally conductive to the world give up on it. Remember he said he gave up on the world. To give up on the world, you would of had to of once believed in the world. And that he did.

    You cant say "a writer" in this, because " a writer," is not all writers, and if I'm not mistaken, plenty of writers write for the people. Honestly, I have no clue why anyone would say what you just said.

    Kurt wasn't anywhere near bitter about Dresden. He was bitter about the world, in general. He didn't even remember much about Dresden, as he wished he could, and he said that his individual scars from the episode were faded. Either way, none of this has anything to do with a book printed in 2005.

    My point was that in his last book, after saying he was done publishing, after all those years of attempting to get the world to change, after all of those books, he tells the world, after explaining logically why it's terrible in a manner that it makes you angry at it, that it's worthless. To someone like me who writes their own intricate philosophies with only the hope to better the world and do whatever they can to work-up logic, it's quite despairing within itself. It made me angry, sad, frustrated. Then it made me say, "No, it's not worthless. Kurt, you are wrong." Then I was vehement, but with will, and then I thought, what if he meant that will. What if he meant for me to get angry. Why else would he throw something else in, if his only point was to make people see the world was a horrible place? Lastly, he sure as hell didn't seem any different in the novel. He was still full of life and making jokes, and in a way, you could tell; you could tell nothing about him had changed, you could tell he still believed. That is why I came to my conclusion, which still is, only hypothesis. I had wished to send him a letter about the book, but to my expense, he died before I could and therefore, I'll never really know. However, in the end, it depends on whether or not, you believe.
     
  4. Funny Bunny
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    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

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    Whatever. I'm sure someone else can reply to suit your ideas.
     
  5. Aleph Arcane
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    Aleph Arcane Member

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    Well, perhaps, if you've read the book, you'd understand my side more.
     
  6. tehllas
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    tehllas New Member

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    I've read the book and I enjoyed it very much.

    My favorite line of the book was something to the effect of when he asked his son what he thought the meaning of life was (I'm VERY loosely paraphrasing here) and his son said something like, "to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is."

    I don't believe any single set of lines in any book, song, or movie have changed my life as much as that.

    About what you're talking about, I think maybe it was written because Kurt Vonnegut was a very funny mind. Perhaps he was laughing to himself and saying, "this'll really throw them off."

    Probably not though.
     

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