I just finished Cat’s Cradle (again, I hadn’t read it since I was a kid). It’s hard to get over just how clever a writer Kurt Vonnegut is. I happened to pick up the soft cover version last week because it was on the banned books list at the library. I suppose the Bokonon religion stuff may offend some who dislike alternative religious views.

I’m not good at literary criticism, but I think it is safe to say that the book deals with the limitations of pursuing scientific thought and scientific questions for their own sake, and that real wisdom is more likely to come from a more humanitarian view of the world. Basically, the book wonders what the point of scientific truth is, if it doesn’t really improve the human condition. A damn good question.
It also has a few witty things to say about human nature. Here’s a few more snippets that caught my fancy this time:

A poem:
Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, “Why, why, why?”

Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”Maturity,” Bokonon tells us, “is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.”

The last rites of the Bokonon:
God made mud.
God got lonesome.
So God said to some of the mud, “Sit up!”

“See all I’ve made,” said God, “the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars.”

And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.
I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.
Nice going, God!
Nobody but You could have done it, God! I certainly couldn’t have.
I feel very unimportant compared to You.
The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn’t even get to sit up and look around.
I got so much, and most mud got so little.
Thank you for the honor!
Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.
What memories for mud to have!
What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I meet!
I loved everything I saw!
Good night.
I will go to heaven now.
I can hardly wait To find out for certain what my wampeter was …
And who was in my karass

And all the good things our karass did for you.
Amen.

“I’m thinking of calling a general strike of all writers until all mankind finally comes to its senses. Would you support it?”

“Do writers have a right to strike? That would be like the police or the firemen walking out.”

“Or the college professors.”

“Or the college professors,” I agreed. I shook my head. “No, I don’t think my conscience would let me support a strike like that. When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed.”

“Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before,” Bokonon tell us. “He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.”