Tag Archives: Kurt Vonnegut

Helpless and vile

Consider: We were at the center of the lives of those who cared for us.  They could be heroically Christian in their own eyes only if Eliza and I remained helpless and vile.  If we became openly wise and self-reliant, they would become our drab and inferior assistants.  If we became capable of going out into the world, they might lose their apartments, their color televisions, their illusions of being sorts of doctors and nurses, and their high-paying jobs.

So, from the very first, and without quite knowing what they were doing, I am sure, they begged us a thousand times a day to go on being helpless and vile.

There was only one small advancement they wished us to make up the ladder of human achievements.  They hoped with all their hearts that we would become toilet-trained.

– Dr. Wilbur Swain, Slapstick (Kurt Vonnegut)

Anything it is supposed to be

When I became a pediatrician, practicing rural medicine in the mansion where I was raised, I often told myself about this childish patient or that one, remembering my own childhood:  “This person has just arrived on this planet, knows nothing about it, has no standards by which to judge it.  This person does not care what it becomes.  It is eager to become absolutely anything it is supposed to be.”

– Dr. Wilbur Swain, Slapstick (Kurt Vonnegut)

This meat hates pain

I am fonder of my middle name, which is “Daffodil-11.”  And I have written this poem about it, and about life itself, of course:
“I was those seeds,
“I am this meat,
“This meat hates pain,
“This meat must eat.
“This meat must sleep,
“This meat must dream,
“This meat must laugh,
“This meat must scream.
“But when, as meat,
“It’s had its fill,
“Please plant it as
“A Daffodil.”

– Dr. Wilbur Swain, Slapstick (Kurt Vonnegut)

A little less love

Love is where you find it.  I think it is foolish to go looking for it, and I think it can often be poisonous.

I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, “Please – a little less love, and a little more common decency.”

– Kurt Vonnegut, Slapstick