Timequake

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To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.
Confucius
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Timequake (1996), a novel by Kurt Vonnegut.


  • There is no way a beautiful woman can live up to what she looks like for any appreciable length of time.
  • All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental.
  • Xanthippe thought her husband, Socrates, was a fool. Aunt Raye thought Uncle Alex was a fool. Mother thought Father was a fool. My wife thinks I am a fool. Wild again, beguiled again, a whimpering, simpering child again. Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I.
  • I am too lazy to chase down the exact quotation but the British astronomer Fred Hoyle said something to this effect: The believing in Darwin’s theoretical mechanisms of evolution was like believing that a hurricane could blow through a junkyard and build a Boeing 747. No matter what is doing the creating. I have to say that the giraffe and the rhinoceros are ridiculous. And so is the human brain, capable, in cahoots with the more sensitive parts of the body, such as the ding dong, of hating life while pretending to love it, and behaving accordingly: Somebody shoot me while I’m happy!
  • If you really want to hurt your parents, and you don’t have nerve enough to be a homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts.
  • I say that anybody whose life keeps tangling up with yours for no logical reason is likely a member of your karass, a team God has formed to get something done for him.
  • Slaughterhouse Five has been turned into an opera by a young German, and will have its premiere in Munich this June. I’m not going there either. Not interested. I am fond of Occam’s razor, or the law of parsimony, which suggests that the simplest explanation of a phenomenon is usually the most trustworthy.
  • And I now believe, with David’s help, that writer’s block is finding out how lives of loved ones really ended instead of the way we hoped they would end with the help of our body English. Fiction is body English. Whatever.
  • You want to know why I don’t have AIDS, why I'm not HIV-positive like so many other people? I don’t fuck around. It’s as simple as that.
  • If your brains were dynamite, there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.
  • If there is a god, he sure hates people. That’s all I can say.
  • Literature is all those la-di- da monkeys next door care about. “Those artsy fartsy twerps next door create living, breathing, three-dimensional characters with ink on paper”.
  • As though the planet weren’t already dying because it has three billion too many living, breathing, three-dimensional characters.
  • We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”
  • I like to sleep. I published a new requiem for old music in another book, in which I said it was no bad thing to want sleep for everyone as an afterlife.
  • I will say too, that lovemaking, if sincere, is one of the best ideas Satan put in the apple she gave to the serpent to give to Eve.
  • The best idea in that apple, though, is making jazz.
  • All male writers, incidentally, no matter how broke or otherwise objectionable, have pretty wives. Somebody should look into this.
  • I told her on the telephone that a sunburned, raffish, bored but not unhappy ten year old boy, whom we did not know, would be standing on the gravel slope of the boat-launching ramp at the foot of Scudder’s lane. He would gaze out at nothing in particular, birds, boats, or whatever, in the harbor of Barnstable, Cape Cod. At the head of Scudder’s Lane, on Route 6A, one tenth of a mile from the boat- launching ramp, is the big old house where we cared for our son and two daughters and three sons of my sister;s until they were grownups. Our daughter Edith and her builder husband, John Squibb, and their small sons, Will and Buck live there now. I told Jane that this boy, with nothing better to do, would pick up a stone, as boys will. He would arc it over the harbor. When the stone hit the water, she would die.
  • I always had trouble ending short stories in ways that would satisfy a general public. In real life, as during a rerun following a timequake, people don’t change, don’t learn anything from their mistakes, and don’t apologize. In a short story they have to do at least two out of three of those things, or you might as well throw it away in the lidless wire trash receptacle chained and padlocked to the fire hydrant in front of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
  • Artists are people who say I can’t fix my country or my state or my cite, or even my marriage. But by golly, I can make this square of canvas, or this eight and a half by eleven piece of paper, or this lump of clay or these twelve bars of music, exactly what they ought to be.”
  • If you really want to know whether your pictures are, as you say, art or not, you must display them in a public place somewhere, and see if strangers like to look at them. That is the way the game is played. Let me know what happens. People capable of liking some paintings or prints or whatever can rarely do so without knowing something about the artist. Again, the situation is social rather than scientific. Any work of art is half of a conversation between two human beings, and it helps a lot to know who is talking to you. Does he or she have a reputation for seriousness, for religiosity, for suffering, for concupiscence, for rebellion, for sincerity, for jokes? There are virtually no respected paintings made by persons about whom we know zilch. We can even surmise quite a bit about the lives of whoever did the paintings in the caverns underneath Lascaux, France. I dare to suggest that no picture can attract serious attention without a particular sort of human being attached to it in the viewer’s mind. If you are unwilling to claim credit for your pictures, and to say why you hoped others might find them worth examining, there goes the ball game.
  • Pictures are famous for their humanness, and not their pictureness. There is also the matter of craftsmanship. Real picture- lovers like to play- along, so to speak, to look closely at the surfaces, to see how the illusion was created. If you are unwilling to say how you made your pictures, there goes the ball game a second time.
  • Let me note that Kilgore Trout and I have never used semicolons. They don't do anything, don't suggest anything. They are transvestite hermaphrodites.
  • Many people need desperately to receive this message: "I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people don't care about them. You are not alone."
  • That there are such devices as firearms, as easy to operate as cigarette lighters and as cheap as toasters, capable at anybody's whim of killing Father or Fats [Waller] or Abraham Lincoln or John Lennon or Martin Luther King, Jr., or a woman pushing a baby carriage, should be proof enough for anybody that, to quote the old science fiction writer Kilgore Trout, "being alive is a crock of shit."
  • "If I'd wasted my time creating characters," [science fiction writer Kilgore] Trout said, "I would never have gotten around to calling attention to things that really matter: irresistible forces in nature, and cruel inventions, and cockamamie ideals and governments and economies that make heroes and heroines alike feel like something the cat drug in"

    Trout might have said, and it can be said of me as well, that he created caricatures rather than characters. His animus against so-called mainstream literature, moreover, wasn't peculiar to him. It was generic among writers of science fiction.
  • I thank [Kilgore] Trout for the concept of the man-woman hour as a unit of measurement of marital intimacy. This is an hour during which a husband and wife are close enough to be aware of each other, and for one to say something to the other without yelling, if he or she feels like it. Trout says in his story "Golden Wedding" that they needn't feel like saying anything in order to credit themselves with a man-woman hour. [...]

    [A character in Trout's story] calculates that an average couple with separate places of work logs four man-woman hours each weekday, and sixteen of them on the weekends. Being asleep with each other doesn't count. This gives him a standard man-woman week of thirty-six man-woman hours.

    He multiplies that by fifty-two. This gives him, when rounded off, a standard man-woman year of eighteen hundred man-woman hours. He advertises that any couple that has accumulated this many man-woman hours is entitled to celebrate an anniversary...

  • Science never cheered up anyone. The truth about the human situation is just too awful.
  • In real life, as in Grand Opera, arias only make hopeless situations worse.
  • You were sick, but now you're well again, and there's work to do. (Kilgore's Creed)
  • Listen: we are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
  • I am eternally grateful.. for my knack of finding in great books, some of them very funny books, reason enough to feel honored to be alive, no matter what else might be going on.
  • I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did'.
  • There is a planet in the solar system, where the people are so stupid, they didn't catch on for a million years that there was another halve to their planet. They didn't figure that out until 500 years ago.
  • "She was a widow, and he stripped himself naked while she went to fetch some of her husband's clothes. But before he could put them on, the police were hammering on the front door with their billy clubs. So the fugitive hid on top of a rafter. When the woman let in the police, though, his oversize testicles hung down in full view."
    Trout paused again.
    "The police asked the woman where the guy was. The woman said she didn't know what guy they were talking about," said Trout. "One of the cops saw the testicles hanging down from a rafter and asked what they were. She said they were Chinese temple bells. He believed her. He said he 'd always wanted to hear Chinese temple bells. "He gave them a whack with his billy club, but there was no sound. So he hit them again, a lot harder, a whole lot harder. Do you know what the guy on the rafter shrieked?" Trout asked me. I said I didn't. "He shrieked, 'TING-A-LING, YOU SON OF A BITCH!' "
  • "At Xanadu in 2001, I asked Kilgore Trout for his ballpark opinion of John Wilkes Booth. He said Booth's performance in Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., on the night of Good Friday, April 14th, 1865, when he shot Lincoln and then jumped from a theater box to the stage, breaking his leg, was 'the sort of thing which is bound to happen when ever an actor creates his own material'"

See also

Kurt Vonnegut

External Links

Wikipedia
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