Evolving Peace

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kilgore Trout is Dead

The fictional character named Kilgore Trout has died, well almost. Waking up this morning I gazed outside my window with the view of the snow falling down while glancing at my computer screen and saw the news that Kurt Vonnegut had died. The man known as Kurt Vonnegut may have just left the planet, but his words and characters will be around for a long while. With his passing, I hope his vision will spread and wake up a culture that has gone mad.

I have been asked many times of what influenced me to become the way I am and as the question has resonated through me many times, I see the many routes and influences to my own being. To my partner, Sarah upon meeting my family she thought I was adopted since lined up against my “conservative” parents I am quite different and not a spitting image of my folks or my brother. There is not one influence to my soul, for there are many influences, from the captivating writers, to enchanting musicians, to gravitating artists and to the passionate humanitarians. For Kurt Vonnegut, I would say he was my favorite all time writer. There have been many others that enhanced my living but captivating me with Vonnegut’s words opened up new possibilities and for that I pay great homage to his memory.

At a bookstore in New York1997, I once met Kurt Vonnegut. It was a book signing for his book TimeQuake. He gave a brief talk and afterwards, a long line of individuals waited to meet him and have him sign his book. Although, I too waited, it appeared as if a bunch of lemmings were lined up waiting to here some prophetic advice from this aging writer. By the time I got to him, I cordially expressed my gratitude for his writings and he looked at me with a blank stare as if to say “what am I doing here.” It reminded of his book Breakfast of Champions in which the whole town shut down for its celebration of the “Arts.” What was I there for, making this old man sign books for hours? Does it make my copy of TimeQuake anymore special or valuable? Well anyway, he signed the book in an illegible manner with his trademark asterisk, symbolizing the human asshole.

I first read Kurt Vonnegut when I was a computer science major in college, when the book Player Piano materialized into my possession. Player Piano outlines the development of machines replacing the need for man. For readers who are unfamiliar with it, that is where Vonnegut got his label as a science fiction writer. At the time, I felt as if computer sciences were teaching me to become a machine with little room for personal thought and exploration, and how right the timing was to be introduced to Vonnegut’s words. Yeah, like I said there were other influences that pulled me away from that path, but here it was on paper exactly as I felt in mind.

I passionately enjoyed all of his other books. The one-time banned book, Slaughterhouse Five catapulted my interest in historical knowledge. Barely written at the time, Vonnegut documents the ghastly firebombing of the city of Dresden, Germany. Dresden a city that had virtually no military significance, but untold the “Allies” bombed the hell out of the town at the near end of World War II and without mercy killed innocent women and children. I had already begun to have series reservations with the United States military policy throughout the world and to read horrific stories of the “last good war” invoked my passions of peace.

Vonnegut’s writing steered me into a different direction and for that I am grateful that he existed on this planet. If you have not read any of his works, I suggest you do, well quite frankly you learn more with one book than a month of television and maybe just by chance you will see what a crazy world we live in, besides we must keep Kilgore Trout alive.

Robb Kidd

“Still and all, why bother? Here's my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.” Kurt Vonnegut


At April 12, 2007 10:33 AM, Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Somewhat true, though Vonnegut did create the Trout Character, Venus on the Half Shell was actually written by Philip José Farmer.


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