« "Hydroxychloroquine lowers COVID-19 death rate, Henry Ford Health study finds" Detroit News | Main | Fire Callout. By Walrus. »

03 July 2020


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Well, that was pretty sobering.


I've always thought this Vonnegut work was well known. I read it in my teens and have come across many references to it since. One of the points of the story is to discard the fiction we all like to believe, or at least espouse, that most everyone has the same capacity to materially succeed if given the opportunity. But the real value of life is living a meaningful existence and that isn't necessarily proportional to some measure of native intelligence. For some it's inversely correlated.

Terence Gore


Damn racist elk


Memory lane moment: wasn't it the extreme conformity of the 1950's, the post WWII Silent Generation, that produced the youth rebellions in the 1960's?

What was the Rebel Without a Cause actually rebelling against - was it not his father's weakness and conformity to a matriarchal world- a world of Karens, post WWII? What was Holden Caufield's complaint anyway in Catcher in the Rye - phonies and enforced conformity.

Why did these two stories from the 1950's resonate so strongly with these prior generations? (I personally never got their point, but many I knew did and still claim they were the best book or movie ever. Only much later did I get Salinger's later work "Franny and Zooey" see below.)

We are experiencing another wave of high conformity- following "experts" and the universal demand to wear masks as symbols of our allegiance to these higher authorities and faceless conformity. And also witnessing another generation of rebels without a cause - the antifa and boogaloo crowds. Rebels without a cause, because it is certainly not BLM driving them.

Is history repeating itself- or is this simply the wheel of life constantly turning, turning, turning. Rollo May in his 1960's "Love and Will" presciently claimed the Age of Aquarius would ultimately become the Age of Addition because life affirming passions were being traded for life-destroying lusts. How did he know this?


A question going around in education today: do we prepare the child for the road; or the road for the child?

When they stopped taking a chair out in each round of musical chairs in pre-school games, so children would not feel left out, we should have seen this coming. Everyone must be treated equally; no winners and no losers. No competition, no survival skills obtained. Just everyone run around and laugh together.

The next clue was the proliferation of tattoos among middle class young people - screaming - look at me, I am different. I am me. Until they all started looking the same.

Society has been demanding mass conformity for a long time - wearing masks, look at me, I care - you don't wear a mask, you must not care, you must be eliminated - is just one more step in the mass conformity continuum that started several decades ago.

Trump 2016 represented a silent scream. Trump 2020 - the battle lines are drawn - to a very dystopian future no matter who is the winner. Hang on. We will need to surf the waves of the next few years. There is another generational shift going on. Problem this time is there are too many of us still alive who have longer memories, than those in prior generational shifts.

How radical it was to see a man born in the 20th Century elected President when the generational torch was passed to JFK. Thus it is, watching the torch pass to those born in the 21st Century.

Heck, I am not even a Boomer, so that puts me in the very narrow top part of the current demographic pyramid of life. Out numbered; and increasingly outflanked. Wondering only if I will live long enough to see how this all turns out.

What exactly will this new generation do with their Boomer and pre-Boomer parent's estate, inheritance, once they get their hands on the long fruits of their parent's labors? Will they donate it all to BLM, sniff it up their nose, shepherd it for their own dotage or spend it all in one grand blast. Or will they passively step aside and let the "government" take it all.


@ Mr. Gore
I don't have much truck with Elk; but Moose can get a little rowdy when the apples have fermented.

Barbara Ann

Larry, many thanks for posting this. I am a fan of Vonnegut, but had not come across this marvelously disturbing work. Your timing in posting it is impeccable.

It strikes me that there are two basic kinds of reaction people have to dystopian literature of this kind: 1) Incomprehension or horror & rejection on the basis of the patent impossibility of such a world coming into being, or 2) understanding that the comic effect of taking concepts to extremes only reinforces the deadly serious underlying message; that all ideologies result in insane dystopias if taken far enough by the zealots.

Is the concept of a United States Handicapper General so hard to imagine? A few months ago I would have given a different answer to the one I'd give now. Doubtless the system Vonnegut describes would be created by youthful idealists with the knowledge and expertise to make things work. Why is it that dystopias can only be made by utopians?

Diana Croissant

This story was common in some junior high literature texts. I remember it in one I used when I was assigned to teach the "remedial reading class for seventh and eighth graders.

That was years (decades) ago. I thought it was frightening then because, for one thing, I had been protesting then about he "levelling" of studens: i.e., you belong in remedial classes, you belong in regular classes, you belong in advanced classes.

All that did is KEEP students in those groups. And I noticed the advanced students were not really that much brighter. They were just proviede farmore interesting and complex matieals.

I haven't thoughto fhat story for a long time. Thanks for posting.

Deirdre O´Sullivan

Fascist dictatorships always try to eliminate art, especially music and literature, so as you can not think or dream of something better....


Mark Gaughan

http://www.sacredfools.org/crimescene/casefiles/s2/shipoffoolsstory.htm This seems fitting.

SoCal Rhino

One of his best known short stories I’d thought. Maybe less so today. I recall he thought some misinterpreted its intended message but I couldn’t find a link. I think he opposed many of the same tendencies that Ayn Rand did but from a very different place, summed up by the famous quote from God Bless You Mr. Rosewater : “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

Terence Gore

"This video, which features people (council members) who are Jewish, white Gentile, Latino, East Asian, and South Asian, is an absolute disaster of racialism and ideological policing. If you want to know what post-liberalism looks like in a pluralistic society, there you have it. For all its problems, I can’t see any governing system available to us in our pluralistic, multiracial democracy than classical liberalism. Just drop in on any of the clips I’ve embedded or linked to above, and see what a freaking catastrophe the race-conscience, post-liberal progressives bring about."


Videos are in the article. I watched a couple of minutes and wondered what school business they were handling. They all seem to be trying their hardest to virtue signal.

"Broshi says here that if the accuser is a person of color, then the accusation is true, even if the white person claims to be innocent."

I don't know where we are headed. Upon watching this I would think they could never unite enough to organize a birthday party never-mind a country. Maybe a virtue seeking blob doesn't need a competent executive, it just randomly destroys whatever it's pseudopod attaches to.

Barbara Ann

Twitter seem to be using Harrison Bergeron as an instruction manual. These people are absolutely insane.


Babak makkinejad

Dierdre O'Sullivan

You are jesting?

John Merryman

Ideals are aspirational, while absolutes are elemental. It goes to the premise of monotheism, that a spiritual absolute would be an ideal of wisdom and judgement, from which we fell. Rather than the essence of sentience, from which we rise.
The long shadow of God plays across every ideology that seeks to replace it.
Ideals. Are. Not. Absolutes.
The last several centuries, no, millennia, of philosophers are morons, for not asking the real questions.
Time is also not the point of the present moving past to future, as it is change turning future to past. Tomorrow becomes yesterday, because the earth turns. There is no literal dimension of time, because the past is consumed by the present, to inform and drive it. Causality and conservation of energy. Cause becomes effect.
I've spent my life farming and avoided school as much as possible and if I can figure out where the cracks are in the models, why can't the smart people?


Barbara Ann,

Of course the left is using this as a manual of operations. The same with Dr. Helms' work, Nationless States, Staleless Nations, that was mentioned here multiple times. I refered a copy to an acquaintance of mine, a recently minted U Mich history professor, back around 2013-14 time frame. He told me that was the exactly what needed to be done to our past. Sadly I had not learned early enough just how far left he was before hand.


Thanks for that short story. Vonnegut, somebody to be proud of. I wonder if he had a statue -I doubt it- but if he did its been torn down, just like Cervantes.
But let me warn you, if you make use of the vast fund of knowledge now available to educated persons, you are going to be lonesome as hell. The guessers outnumber you—and now I have to guess—about ten to one.

Deirdre O´Sullivan

@Babak Makkinejad,

No, why would I?

Music and dance are always right, as part of human expression, there is no way they could be deemed evil by well intentioned people...

In the most adverse cirscumstances, sensible human people missed just music...Music acts as encouragement of hope and remembers us humanity is also able to produce beauty...


( watch at least to 49´footage...)


scott s.

Today I constantly read in the general media, often from quoted politicians or bureaucrats, that what's needed is "equity". I've only seen this in widespread use in the last couple of years, though I suppose it has been out there for a while. So, in the demand of equity if one child lacks the IT infrastructure for online instruction, no child can get online instruction so all must be uneducated.

It's interesting in Hawaii as a dominant metaphor is "we are all in the canoe together". You use that and throw in a couple of Hawaiian words like aloha and malama to shut down any dissent. If you do dissent you are dismissed as a "mainland haole".


As an aside, Mark Vonnegut, Kurt's kid, wrote an excellent book: "The Eden Express" about his descent into and recovery from schizophrenia. He later became a pediatrician. A Cousin of Kurt was also my college girlfriend. Small world.

Yeah, Right

Anyone else seen the movie Idiocracy?

A box office bomb - for what should have been obvious to the producers - but I laughed at the absurdity of it.

Now I'm not so sure I should have laughed.

Babak makkinejad

Deride O'Sullivan

There are contrarian views to yours in Islamic Tradition.

For example, in post-Revolutionary Iran, for example, soli performances by female vocalists are banned.

As for dancing, don't even think about it.

These are only contemporary examples.


Another example of life imitating literary prophecy is Fletcher Knebel’s Night of Camp David.


Babak, melding western and eastern constructs, eminent Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung concluded the human psyche consists of four dimensions in search of balance: (1) the intellect; (2) the sensations; (3) the intuition and (4) the spiritual. Music and dance access all four dimensions.


For your listening pleasure

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad