Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vonnegut at 84

I just don't do heroes. I admire many people for their deeds and their character, but I stop short of making them heroes.

I like to think I'm doing them a favour.

Once someone is placed upon that hero's pedestal it's easy for someone else to push them off. Better that they stay on the ground, able to quickly regain balance and, should they fall, getting back on one's feet is less of a climb.

When I first read Slaughterhouse Five I never understood it. That was probably what Kurt Vonnegut intended. Years later, after reading it again, I understood it all too well. And for the life of me, I cannot explain why.

There will be editorials and obituaries, eulogies and testimonials to mark the passing of Kurt Vonnegut. There will also be, because of the times in which we now live, attempts to knock the late Kurt Vonnegut off his pedestal. Those attempts will fail because Vonnegut, while accepting of admiration for his work and opinions, never took a place above others. He stayed on the ground.

Thousands of news items and thousands of blogs, just like this one, will attempt to say goodbye to Kurt Vonnegut.

I would do that too if it wasn't for one thing which keeps niggling at the back of my mind. He would probably laugh at the concept. He would probably tell us that we aren't saying goodbye to him as much as we are saying it to ourselves.

He would probably tell us that we should have said "goodbye" when he possessed the ability to answer.

He doesn't. So I won't.

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