I never “got into” Vonnegut, or “dug” his work like my “buds,” several of whom pronounced his work as “intense,” so I am not particularly bothered to find he applauds suicide bombers, and thinks they experience “an amazing high.” In the literal sense, perhaps; it’s possible that skull fragments may reach the third floor before they carom off a balcony and patter back to earth.Wonker actually taught Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" back in his liberal university phase, before the professoriat decided that Wonker might be hazardous to the complacency of America's English Departments as they morphed into propaganda mills promoting unintelligible theories and turgid writing. Even at that point, however, one had to wonder at the hollowness of Vonnegut's content-free little books, of which "Five" was merely the most hyped.
I should note that Mr. Vonnegut’s comments, reported in the Australian, were made while touring to promote a collection of anti-Bush essays, and as such all attempts to refute them are intended to suppress his freedom of speech. It goes without saying he will be spending his senior years naked in a cell, fighting rats for a scrap of bread, writing brave quatrains on the wall with a shoelace-tip dipped in rat’s blood, awakened daily at 4 AM with bright lights and the national anthem. Such is life in Chimpsuit McHallihitler’s America...
A senior professor, and noted Vonnegut scholar at the time, came to the sage conclusion that "Slaughterhouse Five" was really the apotheosis of Vonnegut's profound social message, which somehow conflated the revenge firebombing of Dresden by the allies with the evils of Naziism and Communism, a kind of prequel to today's monolithic moral relativism. The professor triumphantly concluded that Vonnegut's conclusion was: "Well, what can you really say about a war?"
Brilliant stuff. Wonker is certain that this brilliant insight alone will place Vonnegut right up there in the firmament with other great chroniclers of humanity like Tolstoy.
If Vonnegut is what passes for today's literary intelligence in America, it's clearly time that we start all over again with people who can think before they write. Vonnegut is yet another case of a scribbler who's career ended long ago and who is attempting to regain it by sucking up to the zeit geist of the New York Times and the few hundred remaining leaders who take the opinion of other has-beens like Maureen Dowd seriously. The pathetically myopic world of the American and European intellectual today differs little from the cliquish adolescent societies that impose, er, party discipline at particularly snotty high schools in affluent city and suburban neighborhoods. Be there, or be talked about.
But hey, Lileks sums this up a lot better. Catch the rest of his article here.