Kurt Vonnegut – RIP
From an interview with Joel Bleifuss in In These Times, January 27, 2003:
My feeling from talking to readers and friends is that many people are beginning to despair. Do you think that we’ve lost reason to hope?
I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka “Christians,” and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or “PPs.”
To say somebody is a PP is to make a perfectly respectable medical diagnosis, like saying he or she has appendicitis or athlete’s foot. The classic medical text on PPs is The Mask of Sanity by Dr. Hervey Cleckley. Read it! PPs are presentable, they know full well the suffering their actions may cause others, but they do not care. They cannot care because they are nuts. They have a screw loose!
And what syndrome better describes so many executives at Enron and WorldCom and on and on, who have enriched themselves while ruining their employees and investors and country, and who still feel as pure as the driven snow, no matter what anybody may say to or about them? And so many of these heartless PPs now hold big jobs in our federal government, as though they were leaders instead of sick.
What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they cannot care what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!
I had the unique privilege of having my copy of Slaughterhouse-Five taken away by a substitute English teacher, who felt it was not appropriate reading material for a 14-year-old girl. She wouldn’t let me have it back at the end of the year (as was done with so many other confiscated items) and instead told me I should consider reading material that was more feminine and wasn’t so “inflammatory”.
In what can only be considered the height of irony, she later became my mother-in-law, and I liberated my book from her living room bookshelf the night of my wedding rehearsal “dinner”. (Brownies and a corn-flake-encrusted cheese log do not constitute a dinner, ever. On any planet. Not even when the brownies are deliciously-chewy.)
Requiem in pace, Mr. Vonnegut.
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