Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt

I've read two Vonnegut books now, and I'm not really sure what I've gotten from them. Honestly, having the author comment on the characters within the exposition about them is, to me, like waking up from a dream; no matter how hard you try to get back to the feeling you had inside that original context, it's difficult (if not impossible) to believe in it again.

But there was one passage that I can't forget. This is months now since I've read it, and it keeps coming back to me:

"America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, "It ain't no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be." It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters."

"Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue... Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times."

"Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves."

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