I Evoke Brow XIII: Brought to You By the Number “Q”

Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without a Country

This one goes on my list "Required Reading List." That is, books that no one should get a diploma (or a voters card or driver's license) without finishing, instead of fucking "Jane Eyre" and "Algebra." A blazing fast read, it is by turns funny, cute, and enraging (at the current state of affairs, not the author). Many, many choice quotes—two I flagged:

"By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many lifeless bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for christmas."

"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."

Vonnegut points out that our current leaders trick people into thinking they are wise when really they are just decisive. Interestingly, this afternoon I read an interview with Stephen Colbert where he makes pretty much the same point.

AVC: You're saying appearances are more important than objective truth?

SC: Absolutely. The whole idea of authority—authoritarian is fine for some people, like people who say "Listen to me, and just don't question, and do what I say, and everything will be fine"—the sort of thing we really started to respond to so well after 9/11. 'Cause we wanted someone to be daddy, to take decisions away from us. I really have a sense of [America's current leaders] doing bad things in our name to protect us, and that was okay. We weren't thrilled with Bush because we thought he was a good guy at that point, we were thrilled with him because we thought that he probably had hired people who would fuck up our enemies, regardless of how they had to do it. That was for us a very good thing, and I can't argue with the validity of that feeling.

But that has been extended to the idea that authoritarian is better than authority. Because authoritarian means there's only one authority, and that authority has got to be the President, has got to be the government, and has got to be his allies.

It's a good meme: I think it's fair to say that many people liked Bush over Gore and Kerry because while they rationalize (and let's admit, waffle), he is single-minded and he sticks to his guns. Sure, he's either simple-minded or grotesquely devious, but he does project confidence. I hate this country. Sometimes.
The rest of the Required Reading List, so far:

  • The Cartoon History of the Universe (particularly Vol. 1)
  • Animal Liberation (the New Edition)
  • A Man Without a Country, Vonnegut

More will occur to me, I'm sure.
Listening to: Assembly of Dust 2005-12-09 Truck Farm, Sinner, Man With A Plan, Amplified Messiah, Speculator (!)

Explore posts in the same categories: Book Reviews, Politics

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