20070422

Cat's Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut - Cat's Cradle

Betyg: 5

Var tvungen att läsa om lite Vonnegut. Fuck you, Fox News.

This is a re-read. I first read it about 15 years ago, and it still holds up. On the one hand, this is a hilarious satire on the cold war and the atom bomb; the weapon everyone wants, but whose use can only mean everybody loses. It certainly has "Dr Strangelove Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb" - the idea of a doomsday weapon that can't NOT be set off - for a cousin. The Cuba crisis looms large.

At the same time, it's a bit more than that. Despite the fact that it's obviously more than 40 years old, Cat's Cradle still feels quite relevant; both in its discussions on American foreign policy


The highest possible form of treason (...) is to say that Americans aren't loved wherever they go, whatever they do.

and on the whole debate of rationality vs irrationality, science vs religion. People on both sides could do well to read this. As dismissive as Vonnegut is of the idea that science will always make the world perfect - the main target of the satire - his wish isn't a return to superstitoin but an advance to humanism. A large part of the narrative is carried by the fictional religion of Bokononism, a religion that claims as its first gospel that all religions are lies, especially Bokononism, and that the only thing holy is man. Of course it's a crackpot religion, but then again, it's a crackpot mankind.

It wouldn't be Vonnegut if all this wasn't delivered as an absolute farce, where everything goes to hell and nothing's as bleakly funny as the end of the world. The image that has always stuck with me is the one for which the book is named:


Newt remained curled in the chair. He held out his painty hands as though a cat's cradle were strung between them.

"No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X's . . ."

"And?"

"No damn cat, and no damn cradle."

In a world where the alternatives seem to be either blind faith or blind progress, Cat's Cradle is a pratfall of a novel saying HEY! It's just a piece of string! LOOK at it! Look at how the world is made up of PEOPLE, and we've in our infinite wisdom arrived at a point where we need to recognize each other for the fuck-ups we are or we'll be laughing ourselves into an early grave. 44 years on, I see no reason to pronounce him wrong.

Etiketter:

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