Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Just this morning I came across a quote, from a 2002 interview with Kurt Vonnegut, that beautifully illuminates the previous post's discussion of Bleak Chic and the role art plays in our lives:  "You know," Vonnegut said, "the arts are supposed to ideally make people like life better than they had before."

Vonnegut could hardly be accused of having a rosy worldview, but his best stories and essays were marked by profound compassion and a belief in the power of simple human kindness.  My favorite of his books—one of my favorite novels by anyone, actually—God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, bears testament to the great beating heart at the center of Vonnegut's work.  

"The arts are supposed to ideally make people like life better than they had before."  To which I can only say, amen.  And thanks, Kurt.


  1. It's been years since I've read Vonnegut, but what's funny is that I don't remember the cynicism. All I remember is the quirky wonder that sent my young mind down previously unknown paths. I'm also now remembering that the movie version
    of Slaughterhouse Five ('71?) gave me a huge sense of Possibility.
    And that's what's missing in so much popular art right now--Vision, and a sense of
    And that's also why the genres of fantasy and science fiction are often so life-giving. They ask the writer to imagine endlessly and expansively, and just that creative act, by its nature, flies beyond darkness and death. YAY!

    Mike Freed

    1. I think you hit it right on the head, Mike: the unleashing of the imagination is, in and of itself, a resounding affirmation, shouted to the universe. (I think there's a Bradbury quote that addresses the very same idea.)

      "Flies beyond darkness and death' indeed!

    2. Thank you for the replies. Two more things. I also would really like to see your Spectre run in a book; it seems like a really important work.
      The other thing is that I've noticed that the Beatles are here to stay. Recently I've been in three coffee shops where the 20-year-old hipster baristas, dressed in black, have played the following: Sgt. Pepper's, Abbey Road, and Harrison's All Things Must Pass. The Beatles are still happening! So I think there's hope in all kinds of little places if we keep our eyes and ears open!

    3. I suspect the Beatles will never go away, Mike. Well, never say never—but their songs will be playing on long after we're all gone. NASA beamed "Across the Universe" out into space, so the music is rocketing to the far end of Creation.

      Thanks for the kind words re: THE SPECTRE. I would love to see my run collected.