Kurt Vonnegut · 215 pages
Rating: (0.9M votes)
“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”
“And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”
“How nice -- to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.”
“And Lot's wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.”
“I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.”
“Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.”
“America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, 'It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.' It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: 'if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?' There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.
Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.”
“All this happened, more or less.”
“- Why me?
- That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?
- Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”
“All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist.”
“There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.”
“The nicest veterans...the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who'd really fought.”
“That's one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones.”
“Trout, incidentally, had written a book about a money tree. It had twenty-dollar bills for leaves. Its flowers were government bonds. Its fruit was diamonds. It attracted human beings who killed each other around the roots and made very good fertilizer.”
“She was a dull person, but a sensational invitation to make babies.”
“People aren’t supposed to look back. I’m certainly not going to do it anymore.”
“It was a movie about American bombers in World War II and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this: American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.
The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers , and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans though and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.
When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.”
“It is just an illusion here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone, it is gone forever.”
“I think you guys are going to have to come up with a lot of wonderful new lies, or people just aren't going to want to go on living.”
“There is one other book, that can teach you everything you need to know about life... it's The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, but that's not enough anymore.”
“Everything is nothing, with a twist.”
“If I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I'm grateful that so many of those moments are nice.”
“It is so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds. And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like "Poo-tee-weet?”
“All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber.”
“There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters.”
“It was very exciting for her, taking his dignity away in the name of love.”
“But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned to a pillar of salt. So it goes. People aren't supposed to look back. I'm certainly not going to do it anymore.”
“When everything was beautiful and nothing hurt...”
“No, no, no, no. Don't get carried away, man. One thaw is not the summer.”
“Coming back to your native land after an absence of many years is a surprisingly unsettling business, a little like waking up from a long coma.”
“And it came to her that the pleasure and stability of dining rooms had always occurred against such a backdrop, against the catastrophic background of universal chaos; such moments of calm were things as fragile and transitory as soap bubbles, destined to burst almost as soon as they blew into existence. Groups of friends, rooms, streets, years, none of them would last. The illusion of stability was created by a concerted effort to ignore the chaos they were imbedded in. And so they ate, and talked, and enjoyed each other’s company; this was the way it had been in the caves, on the savannah, in the tenements and the trenches and the cities huddling under bombardment.”
“Man does not suffer so much from poverty today as he suffers from the fact that he has become a cog in a large machine, an automaton, that his life has become empty and lost its meaning.”
“Baby, Heaven doesn't want me yet, and Fuck if Hell can handle me, so you're kinda stuck with me.”
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