Friday, April 13, 2007

After the semicolon: Kurt is up in Heaven now

“Do not use semicolons. They stand for absolutely nothing.”
-Vonnegut speaking with OSU students in his last official speaking engagement

"When Hemingway killed himself he put a period at the end of his life; old age is more like a semicolon.”
-Vonnegut talking with AP

There’s little I can say that hasn’t already been said in recent articles. Kurt Vonnegut was and is one my favorite authors, and he’s one more person I’m sad to have never met or known. Eighty-four is certainly a good run, and I’d felt for some time that he was ready to go after he’d ceased writing. He was fond of saying that writing stories made one’s soul grow. I suppose his soul was fully grown. So he stopped. So it goes.

I’ll miss the way he saw the world, and I’m glad he affixed as much as he did to paper. I only wish I’d had a chance to shake his hand and say, “Thank you for taking the piss out of most everything. And for caring. Thanks most of all for that.”

"Do you know what a Humanist is? I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that functionless capacity. We Humanists try to behave well without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. We serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any real familiarity, which is our community.

“We had a memorial services for Isaac a few years back, and at one point I said, 'Isaac is up in Heaven now.' It was the funniest thing I could have said to a group of Humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, 'Kurt is up in Heaven now.' That's my favorite joke. "

-Kurt Vonnegut for “In These Times,” 11/6/03

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